Energy & Environment

This winter has brought a lot of snow, and snowy owls.

Some southern West Virginia residents almost always have unusable water.

We visit an old general store with a new purpose.

And learn more about the world of crayfish research.

Baker Hughes

West Virginian environmentalists are concerned about a bill to overturn tonnage caps for landfills accepting gas well drill cuttings from hydraulic fracturing operations.
 

The bill passed both legislative chambers in special session and now awaits the governor's approval.
 

Near the beginning of February, public interest groups Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Mountain State Justice filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court against DHHR and DEP for not adequately responding to public concerns after the January 9 leak by Freedom Industries. In response to the petition, the two agencies now point to legislation passed in response to the spill.

Freedom Industries
AP

West Virginia regulators have issued notices of environmental violations to a company that cleaned up and hauled a chemical from the site of a spill which contaminated the tap water of 300,000 residents.
 
The Department of Environmental Protection said Friday it issued two violations to Diversified Services LLC in St. Albans after a sheen was detected in a drainage system that empties into a tributary of the Kanawha River.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has ordered a permit for an underground injection well in Fayette County to be revoked.

The DEP renewed the permit for a class two (UIC), or underground injection control disposal well owned by Danny Webb Construction on February 6.

The permit allows the company to accept fluids from oil and gas exploration, development drilling, and production fluids for another five years. 

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Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

The four-day West Virginia Girls state basketball tournament began Wednesday and many athletes and fans say they came to Charleston anxious about taking showers and drinking tap water.

After reading about the city's water issues since the Jan. 9 chemical  spill into the Elk River, which fouled the air with licorice-smelling water, those arriving from outside the spill zone are making their own decisions on bottled versus tap water at area hotels and restaurants.

Low-income West Virginians can get help paying heating bills through a state program.
 
The Department of Health and Resources will begin taking applications on Monday for the Emergency Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
 

JaGa / wikimedia Commons

A bald eagle has survived a collision with an Amtrak train in the New River Gorge.
 
Wendy Perrone with the Three Rivers Avian Center tells the Charleston Gazette that the female eagle is the mate of a male eagle that was hit by another Amtrak train in 2013.
 

Freedom Industries
AP

Freedom Industries has submitted the first phase of the Tank Decommission Plan for its Charleston facility, site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill of MCHM into the Elk River.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ten students from the University of San Francisco are in West Virginia this week, spending their spring break getting a first-hand look at the coal and gas industries.

This immersion trip is taking place through Wheeling Jesuit University’s Appalachian Institute. It began in Wheeling with an orientation then the group traveled to the Morgantown, W.Va. and Washington, Pa., area to visit the Center for Coalfield Justice and spend time with the Friends of Decker’s Creek collecting water samples.

Becoming Frack Finders

Climate Change, Coal, & The Thompson's Research

Mar 11, 2014
Lonnie Thompson
Byrd Polar Research Center

In Washington, Senate Democrats are pulling an all-nighter on Capitol Hill. They're on the Senate floor, talking about global warming. They started Monday night and plan to go until this morning.      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who's leading the dusk-to-dawn talkathon, says climate change is "a question of our own survival."

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is investigating a business in Poca after reports of a familiar smell that followed January's chemical spill.
 
The agency on Monday received reports of the strong licorice smell of MCHM coming from a business called Safety Kleen in the Poca industrial complex.
 

Bill Hughes

A bill to regulate the disposal of waste produced by gas-well drilling will likely be introduced by the governor in a special session.
 
Lawmakers who negotiated a version both sides could agree on were unable to get the measure passed before midnight Saturday, the deadline for the regular session.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

Crayfish are one of the most endangered animal groups in the country, but recently a scientist at West Liberty University discovered three new species--and says there may be more on the way. That's not a big surprise if you know Zachary Loughman. He's one of only nine crayfish biologists in the country and maybe the most enthusiastic.

“Any second of any day I will look for crayfish. Period," Loughman says.

He says Appalachia is the perfect place to research crayfish because it's such an ecologically diverse region.

National Transportation Safety Board

Federal investigators have determined the cause of a Colombia Gas Transmission pipeline explosion in West Virginia in December 2012.

In a report released Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the explosion was caused by external corrosion and a lack of recent inspections. The agency said the corrosion could have been discovered by the pipeline operator.

Kentucky launches a new education program with its federal Race to the Top grant.

Retired military members make a case for better climate change policy.

Calling all photographers! For help documenting Appalachia 50 years after the War on Poverty.

An Appalachian village ushers in the Lenten season West Virginia style.

C. W. Sigman

Federal agents have visited a company that cleaned up and hauled chemicals from the site of a spill that contaminated 300,000 West Virginians' water.
 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin confirmed that FBI investigators were at Diversified Services LLC in St. Albans on Thursday. Goodwin could not comment on why they were there.

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A law office in Fayette County says the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection violated state and federal law.

The Rist Law Office in Fayetteville wants the DEP to reverse a permit for an underground injection well the DEP granted for Danny E. Webb Construction Incorporated. Residents have been concerned about this site in Lochghelly for years.  

According to court documents, the Rist Law Office is representing the Natural Resource Defense Council, the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization, the Plateau Action Network and citizen Brad Keenan.

Twiter / @hansenevan

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works had a hearing Thursday in Washington that focused on improving chemical safety. Committee members heard about the recent water crisis in the Kanawha Valley from a West Virginia expert.

Panelists included representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Chemical Safety Board as well as authorities from communities that have witnessed recent chemical strife.

Alpha Natural Resources

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.
 
The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.
 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The winter of 2014 continues to break records in West Virginia.

The National Weather Service says a blast of arctic air on Tuesday broke low temperature records for March 4 in Wheeling, Morgantown, Elkins and Lewisburg.
 
In Elkins, the temperature dropped to minus-10 degrees. The previous record was minus-7 degrees in 1996.
 

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia company at the center of a January chemical spill is hiring experts to preserve emails and phone records for ongoing investigations.
 
Freedom Industries will pay Vestige Ltd. about $42,500 to maintain electronic evidence, which is needed for a U.S. Attorney's Office investigation and other chemical spill inquiries.
 

'Titan' Storm Closes Schools, Causes Delays in W.Va.

Mar 3, 2014
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Public schools across West Virginia are closed and some government offices are closing or delaying openings because of a winter storm.

The storm began Sunday as rain and changed overnight to sleet and then snow. Winter storm warnings remain in effect through Monday evening for most of the state.
 

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Politico

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is still skeptical about safety of drinking water for 300,000 Charleston-area residents.
 
At an appearance Friday in Charleston, the West Virginia Democrat said he would not drink tap water when he is visiting the capital city, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
 

Same sex marriage makes headlines again this week across the country and in Appalachia.

An outdoor classroom in Virginia addresses watershed issues.

Tourism professionals aren’t worried about the water at a conference in Charleston, W.Va.

And Traveling 219 makes another visit to the Tygart Valley Homestead in Randolph County W.Va.

Elk River Chemical spill
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has lifted a state of emergency for nine counties in West Virginia that were affected by a chemical spill into the Elk River by Freedom Industries that tainted the drinking water supply of 300,000 residents.

The site of a 1972 disaster along Logan County's Buffalo Creek is having new life breathed into it.
 

Buffalo Creek is rapidly becoming one of southern West Virginia's most popular trout streams.
 
This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the collapse of an earthen dam along Buffalo Creek after heavy rain. It unleashed a flood that killed 125 people, injured 1,100 and left about 4,000 homeless.
 

Each time you go to turn on the faucet, flush the toilet, or water the lawn, you’re connecting yourself to a complex water system with nearly two and a half thousand years of history. The structure of our modern network of reservoirs, pipes, and drains owes much of its influence to designs dating back to ancient Rome. 

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