Kentucky could realize 34 percent of its energy demand from renewable sources by 2025, a new study shows. Authored by West Virginia-based Downstream Strategies and Kentucky-based Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, the report found that solar photovoltaic and combined heat and power, the simultaneous generation of mechanical power and thermal energy used for heating and cooling, comprise the two greatest sources of undeveloped renewable energy in the state.
The report specifies that while these renewables aren’t able to replace the amount of energy generated by centralized fossil fuels, existing resources and technologies would provide enough energy development to provide significant economic and environmental benefits. Among them would be more stable energy prices, fewer subsidies, increased efficiency, and reduced costs for infrastructure, pollution control, and new facilities. During an interview with Kentucky News Connection, lead study author Rory McIlmoil said that increased use of distributed renewables would minimize power outages while creating jobs. To read the study, visit downstreamstrategies.com/projects.html
In conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Appalachian Regional Commission announced federal technical assistance aimed at helping seven Appalachian communities achieve the goals of a “livable community.” ARC defines a rural “livable community” in Appalachia as a place with thriving town centers, protected working lands and natural resources, economic opportunities, and affordable transportation and housing choices. The grants were awarded to: Connellsville, Penn.; Brownsville, Penn.; Uhrichsville, Ohio; Independence, Va.; Spruce Pine, N.C.; Williamson, W.Va.; and Salamanca, N.
A study by the U.S. Forest Service found that trees in urban areas of Tennessee contribute a total of $80 billion in environmental benefits. By analyzing tree size and chemical composition, researchers were able to quantify the average amount of carbon storage and its value based on the estimated social costs of carbon dioxide emissions — over $350 million. Researchers also estimated that the urban forest provides over $204 million each year in pollution removal and $18.4 million in annual additional carbon sequestration. Comparing the value of summertime shade to the inconvenience of winter shade, researchers revealed that trees provide a net energy savings benefit of $66 million.
West Virginia, the state that ranked 48th by the League of American Bicyclists’ for bicycle-”friendliness” this year, is implementing a Statewide Bicycle Connectivity Plan to improve the state’s two-wheeled transportation opportunities. Planners hope to connect existing trails among different regions of the state and also provide access to trails in other states. West Virginia currently has 375 miles of former railbed that are converted to bike and pedestrian paths, and more are planned through this initiative, which is funded by a federal grant to the state’s Department of Transportation. The steering committee for the bike plan held public hearings this spring, and the committee’s recommendations are expected to be released in August.
Find out more about the proposed bike paths and submit comments at transportation.wv.gov
Following an 18-month lawsuit, federal regulators have set a 15-year deadline for the city of Chattanooga, Tenn., to complete approximately $250 million in sewer system repairs aimed at reducing the amount of untreated, raw sewage entering the Tennessee River. The court order also requires Chattanooga to pay a $476,400 civil penalty, implement a green infrastructure plan to divert stormwater runoff, and undertake a $800,000 stream restoration to improve water quality in a creek tributary. Customers of the Chattanooga system, both within and beyond city limits, will pay for much of the sewer repairs through rate increases.
Finding out which endangered plants and critters live where has never been easier. This summer the Fish and Wildlife Service launched a nationwide, interactive online map that allows users to search for endangered wildlife by state, county, and species. The site doesn’t just list plants and animals — it provides engaging multimedia that highlights the struggle of species like the Kentucky arrow darter or Swamp pink herb, and tells stories about partnership projects and rare endemic species. Visit: fws.gov/endangered
White nose syndrome, a disease that has killed an estimated 5.5 million bats since 2006, is now in 19 states and four Canadian provinces. In July, the Forest Service announced that 30 states will receive Endangered Species Recovery funds to address the problem, totaling nearly $1 million for state natural resource agencies to fund surveillance and monitoring of caves and mines where bats hibernate. Appalachian states receiving funding to fight the disease include Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. White nose syndrome is named for the white fungus that appears on the noses of affected bats, and the disease has spread to at least six species. Learn more at: whitenosesyndrome.org