Energy & Environment

Jesse Wright / WVPB

As President Trump attempts to revive the struggling coal industry, the administration’s top regulator for mine safety used a recent lecture at West Virginia University to lay out his priorities for the agency charged with keeping miners safe.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David Zatezalo outlined the Trump administration's priorities for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Donald Trump’s top mine safety regulator used a recent lecture at West Virginia University to lay out his priorities for the agency charged with keeping miners safe. 

David Zatezalo, a West Virginia native and former mine executive, focused on how the Mine Safety and Health Administration could use technology to reduce mining fatalities and injuries. But as Brittany Patterson reports, he offered few remedies for the shocking increase in black lung disease.

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Coal miners and their families in Appalachia take great pride in their work and the fellowship that surrounds coal mining. As Jeremy Brock, one former Kentucky coal miner, put it: "It's a culture. It's a brotherhood."

“Once you get used to it, I wouldn’t do nothing else," he told the documentary project, Humans of Central Appalachia, in 2016.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue our West Virginia baseball series. We’ll meet a Pocahontas County man who became a baseball umpire for 38 years. He’s retired now and lives in his hometown of Elkins. Roxy Todd met up with Virgil Broughton to find out what it takes to make a good umpire.

Protesters in downtown Charles Town, W.Va. on Aug. 2, 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that he fully supports the Rockwool development project in Jefferson County, despite the level of pushback to the project from local residents.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, federal regulators gave the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the green light to restart construction Monday. Brittany Patterson reports.

Also on today's show, in the 1976 film ‘Bad News Bears’, a down-and-out and Budweiser-swigging Walter Matthau coaches a group of ragtag little leaguers and tries to whip them into shape.

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Federal regulators gave the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the green light to restart construction Monday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted construction of the 600-mile pipeline last month after a federal court threw out two of the project’s federal permits.

Updated at 3:55 a.m. ET on Monday

Tropical Depression Florence is continuing to bring relentless, torrential rain to much of the South. Florence has already set a record for rainfall in the state of North Carolina, and thousands have evacuated to shelters in North and South Carolina to ride out the storm.

More than 500,000 remain without electricity in North Carolina.

Updated 11:40 a.m. ET Sunday

Florence weakened to a tropical depression Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, but flooding continued to be a major danger throughout the Carolinas.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the storm is more dangerous now than when it made landfall. "Flood waters are still raging across parts of our state, and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters," Cooper said in a news conference on Sunday.

"The threat of flooded roads keeps spreading," Cooper continued.

Updated at 5:20 a.m. ET Saturday

Tropical Storm Florence is still a slow-moving giant that poses danger to people in North and South Carolina, as its storm surge and intense rains bring high floodwaters to towns both on the coast and inland.

The storm has been linked to at least five deaths, a toll that is expected to climb.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission will hear public comment next month on a Mountaineer Gas Co. natural gas line proposal.

Updated at 5:10 a.m. ET on Thursday

The outer rain bands of Hurricane Florence were beginning to be felt in North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center, as the Category 2 storm, with sustained winds of 110 mph and the likelihood of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall," ranged closer to a landfall.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting


On this West Virginia Morning, pre-trial impeachment proceedings in the West Virginia Senate kicked off Tuesday with a roller coaster that still leaves all four impeached justices standing trial. An offer to publicly reprimand Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Beth Walker was ruled out of order. Additionally, a motion to dismiss articles of impeachment against now-retired Justice Robin Davis was rejected by the Senate. Dave Mistich reports.

Arbuckle Creek, Minden
Brittany Patterson

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add areas near the Fayette County town of Minden to its list of the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country.

In a news release Tuesday, the agency said it has determined the Shaffer Equipment site, as well as parts of nearby Arbuckle Creek, should be added to the Superfund National Priorities List.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

William Suan is no stranger to the problems abandoned oil and gas wells can cause.

“It's just an eyesore,” he said, standing inside a barn on his cattle ranch near Lost Creek, West Virginia. “I had to fence one off because it's leaking now.”

There are five inactive wells on his land, most installed in the '60s and '70s, and the companies that owned the wells have long since gone out of business.

Updated at 5 a.m. ET on Tuesday

Hurricane Florence is growing in size and strength as it barrels toward the Southeastern U.S. for an expected landfall in the Carolinas later this week as an "extremely dangerous hurricane," according to the National Hurricane Center.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the natural gas boom is transforming the Ohio Valley’s energy landscape. Development has also led to abandonment of thousands of older oil and gas wells, which often then pollute local air, land, and water.

water faucet
wikimedia

More than $1.1 million in federal funding has been announced for a West Virginia water project planned to replace outdated systems and improve service in several communities.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, gristmills weren’t just a place where people went to buy cornmeal and flour 100 years ago, they were also community gathering places. But supermarkets replaced the local gristmill economy, and few working mills are still in operation today.

The West Virginia Preservation Alliance placed Reed’s Mill on the list of its endangered properties last year. In the latest episode of Inside Appalachia, Roxy Todd visits Monroe County, where the millman, Larry Mustain, is wondering how long he can continue to keep his family’s business going.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court begins his Senate confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sept. 4. If confirmed, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will tip the court to the right and make overturning Roe versus Wade a possibility.

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Developers of a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility say they are one step closer to making construction a reality. The Appalachian Development Group announced in an Aug. 29 news release that it selected an outside development and engineering firm to help with project planning and construction.

Hundreds of Jefferson County residents and locals from nearby counties rallied outside the Jefferson County Community Center on Saturday Aug. 25, 2018 to protest the Rockwool company.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The European-based insulation manufacturing company Rockwool held a handful of community open houses last week at the Jefferson County Community Center. The aim was to better-connect with residents, many of whom don’t want the company to locate in the Eastern Panhandle. Rockwool’s final open house drew a crowd of hundreds who rallied outside to protest the plant.

courtesy of Nancy Stout

The region just lost a powerhouse of environmental science and advocacy with the death of professor Benjamin Stout. Stout’s work as an educator, an expert witness in the courtroom, as well as his work empowering citizens with science, made long-term impacts regionally and nationally.

Stout was a Wheeling resident and, for the past 26 years, a biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University. He was a stream ecologist who dedicated his life to science, nature, and above all, community. Ben died of cancer Aug. 3 at his home in Wheeling, surrounded by his family. He was 60.


West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talks about his budget proposal during a stop on his Save Our State Tour on Thursday, March 3, 2017, at Fairmont State University.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal court has ordered the U.S. Marshal to collect more than $1 million owed by two coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

Federal regulators today gave the Mountain Valley Pipeline the green light to restart the majority of construction.

In a letter sent to Mountain Valley Pipeline officials, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said the pipeline’s continued construction hiatus could cause more environmental harm than good. In order to “mitigate further environmental impacts” the agency said construction along rights-of-way could resume, except on federal lands.


Kara Lofton / WVPB

When President Trump wants to talk coal, he comes to West Virginia. So it was not surprising that the president visited Charleston just hours after his administration unveiled a long-awaited overhaul of the Obama administration's signature climate change regulation, the Clean Power Plan.

“We’re cancelling Obama’s illegal, anti-coal-destroying regulations. The so-called Clean Power Plan,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, when President Trump visited West Virginia last week, he hailed his administration’s new Affordable Clean Energy Rule as something that will fuel a coal comeback. 
The rule replaces an Obama-era regulation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. 
But as Brittany Patterson reports, industry experts say they don’t expect Trump’s new plan to change coal’s fortunes in the Ohio Valley -- and the administration’s own analysis agrees.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency says a West Virginia site is being deleted from the Superfund National Priorities List after being added to it in 1986.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, there’s been a lot of friction in recent weeks in Jefferson County between thousands of residents and a new Rockwool manufacturing plant. In response to the communitiy's pushback, the Denmark-based company has scheduled open houses through Saturday. Liz McCormick has more.

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