Energy & Environment

This is the first of a two-part series on water infrastructure in Appalachia, and possible solutions to problems at the federal and local level.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, energy companies in the Ohio Valley have looked to China as important customers and investors in coal and natural gas. But as Brittany Patterson explains, President Trump’s escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners could have a major effect on the region’s energy sector.

Still from White House video

President Donald Trump’s desire to help boost the Ohio Valley’s energy industry and bring back mining jobs could be stymied by the administration's escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners across the globe.

Department of Environmental Quality Firector, David Paylor walks along a retention pond for a spring near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline June 6, in Bolar, Va.
Steve Helber / Associated Press

Environmental advocates asked a federal court Tuesday to review a federal permit for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a law firm representing a coalition of environmental and citizen groups, filed a petition with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nancy Andrews

About 2,000 people gathered in Pittsburgh last month for two gas and petrochemical industry conferences. Despite those numbers, people noticed who wasn’t there: investors from China. Participants discussed the impacts of tariffs, best practices and hiring.

Adelina Lancianese / NPR

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we take a sneak peek at a new West Virginia musical written by Mountain Stage host Larry Groce. One song features a governor working hard to please constituents. Hear about it on this West Virginia Morning.

The tree sitters with their treetop perch are nearly level with the ridge top. They sit near the site where boring will be used to cross underneath the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. A notice from Mountain Valley Pipeline is taped to the tree trunk.
Nancy Andrews

Environmental advocates yesterday asked federal regulators to suspend construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

 

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday halted some construction of the natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.

The three-judge panel sided with conservation groups who challenged the pipeline’s water-crossings permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Glynis Board / WVPublic

A federal lawsuit filed this week by an environmental group alleges two protected crayfish species are being harmed by coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

The suit, filed Wednesday in West Virginia by the Center for Biological Diversity, alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has missed the one-year time frame set under the Endangered Species Act in which to designate habitat areas for the two crayfish species.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hazardous chemicals left over from coal-fired power plants are leaching into groundwater across Kentucky. This new look at coal ash pollution comes from the power plants themselves -- they were recently required to make public the data from groundwater monitoring. WFPL’s Ryan Van Velzer has the second story in the series, Coal Ash, Uncovered.

Curt and Debbie Havens’ ranch style home is the gathering place for their family. Their two boys grew up playing in the streets in this quiet neighborhood in West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Now, their grandchildren do the same.

“They played ball, all kinds of games,” Debbie recalled during a recent interview. Family photos and knick-knacks line the walls. One heart-shaped sign reads “May love be the heart of this home.”

“Everybody wants to come to grammy’s and pappy’s,” she added.

Coal Ash Uncovered: Polluted Groundwater Found At 14 Kentucky Sites

Jun 19, 2018
Erica Peterson

For decades, Kentucky’s own coal stoked the fires that generated most of its electricity. And while some of those power plants have shut down or switched to natural gas, their legacy remains today in the leftover coal ash that’s stored all over the commonwealth.

Now, new data show the coal ash buried in landfills and submerged in ponds at many of these sites has contaminated local groundwater.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, about 10 years ago, the National Park Service noticed that fewer kids and families were using the parks. And they wanted to change that. So in 2009, they partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to launch an initiative to help families unplug, get outside and connect with their local natural resources.

Kara Lofton reports that the initiative called Kids in the Park soon expanded to include pediatricians who are trying to combat childhood obesity, diabetes and excess screen time by writing “prescriptions” for kids to go outside.

Coal Ash Uncovered: New Data Reveal Widespread Contamination At Ohio Valley Sites

Jun 18, 2018
A 2011 aerial photo of Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash waste site in the country.
Robert Donnan

For generations, coal power has fueled American prosperity. But for each shovelful thrown into the furnaces, a pile of ash was left in its place.

Today, as coal’s dominance in the power sector wanes, those piles of ash have grown into mountains as coal ash became one of the largest waste streams in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West VIrginia Morning, coal has long powered the Ohio Valley. But it left behind a legacy of waste: dozens of massive coal ash disposal sites. As the Trump administration changes the regulation of coal ash, the Ohio Valley ReSource and partner station WFPL have analyzed new data from the region’s waste sites. The analysis found widespread evidence that coal ash sites are leaking contaminants into surrounding groundwater.

In the first of a three-part series, reporters Brittany Patterson and Ryan Van Velzer share what they found and what it might mean for nearby communities.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, NPR reporter and host Kelly McEvers and her colleague Chris Benderev spent more than a year exploring coal counties across Appalachia -- trying to understand our people and our history with coal.

The series, which recently aired on a podcast called Embedded, follows several people in central Appalachia, to find out how their lives changed during the first year-and-a-half of the Trump presidency. McEvers recently spoke with Roxy Todd. We'll hear part of that conversation and travel with McEvers as she goes a mile underground inside a coal mine.

Mirijana Beram

State regulators are fining the operators of the natural gas Rover Pipeline more than $430,000 for water pollution violations.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday that Rover Pipeline LLC, which is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, violated its permit and state laws on multiple occasions.

 


Still from White House video

President Donald Trump last week told the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to stop the closures of coal and nuclear power plants in the Ohio Valley region that are no longer economical to operate.

But a number of energy analysts say the administration’s unprecedented effort to prop up struggling utilities will do little to solve their underlying problems and will likely end up costing consumers more.  

J. Glover/AUTiger / Wikimedia Commons

A city in West Virginia is suing the owners of a towboat that spilled oil along the West Virginia-Kentucky border earlier this year.

The Herald-Dispatch reports the boat sank in the Big Sandy River on Jan. 10. The complaint, filed this week, seeks more than $150,000 in expenses and compensation for future related costs and attorney fees.

Darkone / Wikimedia Commons

Health officials say a raccoon has tested positive for rabies in West Virginia.

According to news outlets, the Monongalia County Health Department says the raccoon was found Monday in the National area of the county. Tests confirmed the disease in the animal.

Fracking, Fluid
Baker Hughes

A West Virginia University assistant professor has received a $450,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to look at how airborne particles that result from hydraulic fracturing affect human health.

In hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas are extracted from rock by injecting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals underground.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, for decades, the Cheat River and its tributaries were known for the tell-tale bright orange discoloration of acid mine drainage. Twenty-five years later, the river is on the verge of a nearly complete restoration. Much of the success is a result of a decision among regulators, scientists and a local conservation group to treat the pollution problem as an entire watershed, instead of mine by mine. Brittany Patterson takes us to Preston County to learn more.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

On a recent sunny Wednesday, Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute, was standing on a bridge looking out at Big Sandy Creek. It was a balmy afternoon, perfect for kayaking, and the creek running the Cheat River was clear. But 25 years ago, this water was a shocking orange color -- from acid mine drainage.

Elk
CommonsHelper2 Bot / Wikimedia Commons

A group of elk transported from Arizona to West Virginia in March have been set free from their holding pen.

News outlets report the Division of Natural Resources released 46 elk on Tuesday in Logan County.

Casting a line won't cost anything in West Virginia this weekend.

The state Division of Natural Resources is holding its annual free fishing weekend for both residents and nonresidents. It's part of National Fishing and Boating Week.

It was a close encounter in 2012 that made microbiologist John Jelesko take an interest in poison ivy.

Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County

Jun 7, 2018
A crater in the earth following a natural gas pipeline explosion as seen from the air.
Photo courtesy of Martin Dofka

 

No one was injured when the TransCanada natural gas pipeline exploded today in Marshall County, touching off flames that could be seen for miles.

Adobe Stock

A 43-yr-old coal miner from Barbour County died Tuesday after sustaining injuries in a Randolph County mining accident. 

Ronald R. Taylor was a shuttle car operator at the Carter Roag Coal Company, Morgan Camp Mine in Randolph County. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new study from the Government Accountability Office finds that the federal fund supporting coal miners with black lung disease could be in financial trouble without congressional action. As Benny Becker reports, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging.

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