Brittany Patterson

Energy and Environment Reporter

Brittany Patterson is the energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. A native of northern California, Brittany comes to West Virginia from Washington, D.C., where she spent three years covering public lands and climate change for E&E News, an outlet that's widely considered required reading for energy and environment professionals.

She covers a broad range of topics including the oil and gas industry, coal industry, utilities, conservation, water quality issues and climate change across West Virginia and the Ohio Valley.

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her master's from U.C. Berkeley, both in journalism. Her work has been published in Scientific American, E&E News, TheAtlantic.com, Mother Jones, KQED, Earth Island Journal, Verily, and Refinery 29.

When not reporting the news, you can find her baking, hiking or cuddling with her 85-pound American bulldog, Cooper.

Ways to Connect

Valerius Tygart / Wikimedia Commons

The Appalachian Regional Commission Monday began accepting applications for a new leadership and economic training program.

Mine Safety Debt For WV Gov. Justice’s Family Companies Grows to $4M

Apr 8, 2019
Courtesy WV Governor's Office

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in delinquent debt for mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts.

Janet Butler / USFWS

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s namesake is apparent upon stepping outside its visitors center in Williamstown, West Virginia. Gazing past bird feeders and the forested bank of the Ohio River, a skinny island looms large.

“So Buckley Island is right across the water from us,” says Michael Schramm, visitor services manager at the refuge.

Tim Reddinger, Ohio River, Beaver, Pennsylvania
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A multi-state commission charged with protecting the Ohio River heard testimony Monday evening in Pittsburgh that it should do more, not less to protect water quality.

 

In the first of three public hearings, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, heard from more than a dozen people about proposed changes to the commission’s pollution control standards for industrial and municipal wastewater discharges into the river.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Governor Jim Justice released justifications Friday for 15 bills passed by the West Virginia Legislature that he vetoed due to technical errors, including two that would have impacted the state's natural gas industry.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A collaborative art exhibit at West Virginia University focuses on one of the state’s most abundant resources -- water. It also celebrates the many women who protect it.

Featuring brightly colored panels covering wide swaths of the downtown campus library’s walls, “WATER: Exploring the Significance, Power and Play of Life’s Critical Resource” explores the state’s rivers and wetland ecosystems, celebrates the art and recreation opportunities afforded by water, and explores challenges and solutions facing the state’s water resources.


Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

A bipartisan group of West Virginia Senators has introduced a resolution that would task a legislative committee with studying the state’s black lung epidemic.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 59 was introduced Friday afternoon in the Committee on Health and Human Resources. The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Ron Stollings, a Democrat from Boone County, who is also a doctor.

 

Adobe Stock

A bill that would reduce the severance tax on coal used by power plants is one step closer to passing.

After much debate Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 3142. The measure, which has already passed the House, now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Adobe Stock

The West Virginia Legislature has passed a bill containing a set of environmental regulations, including a controversial water pollution rule that was pared down during the legislative process.

The House passed Senate Bill 163 on a 78-22 vote. The measure, which passed in the Senate last month, is now in effect.

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

More than 90 percent of the nation’s regulated coal ash repositories are leaking unsafe levels of toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, including ash sites at more than 30 coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House passed a bill Wednesday that would reduce the severance tax paid on coal burned for electricity

 

House Bill 3142 passed on an 88-11 vote after contentious debate on the floor.

Long sought by industry, the legislation would reduce the severance tax paid by coal companies on steam or thermal coal from 5 percent to 4 percent effective July 1 and to 3 percent effective July 1, 2020.

 

 

Sections of pipe sit in a storage yard outside Buckhannon, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting file photo

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to rehear a case over the legality of permits that allow the multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline to cross under national forest lands, including the Appalachian Trail.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

About 100 West Virginia University faculty and students gathered outside of Woodburn Circle Thursday afternoon to voice their concerns about a so-called “campus carry” bill making its way through the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Courtesy Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

Miners and advocates rallied Wednesday at the West Virginia Capitol in support of a series of bills aimed at preventing and treating severe black lung disease.

Five bills introduced by lawmakers would make it easier to make qualify for state benefits and provide benefits to miners who have early-stage black lung.

Adobe Stock

A West Virginia House committee on Tuesday, Feb. 19, voted down an amendment that would have restored the state’s water quality standards to the version originally proposed by state environmental regulators last summer.

Dave Mistich / WVPB

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will move forward with a series of actions to regulate toxic fluorinated chemicals, including proposing drinking water limits by the end of this year. But environment and public health advocates say that timeline is unacceptable.

 

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Economic development leaders from the Ohio Valley’s coal communities used a Congressional hearing on climate change Tuesday to say that their communities must be central to conversations about climate solutions.

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)

Natural gas driller EQT Corporation has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought by thousands of West Virginia gas owners.

 

In the preliminary settlement agreement approved today, the company said it will pay $53.5 million for failing to make proper gas royalty payments between 2009 and 2017.

Whiterwater Rafting Gauley River
AP Photo / Jeff Gentner

The U.S. Senate this week overwhelmingly voted to reinstate a popular program that uses revenue generated by offshore oil and gas drilling to protect public lands.

 

In a 92-8 vote, the Senate passed the "Natural Resources Management Act," a sweeping public lands package. In addition to permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the bill places more than 1 million new acres of wilderness under protection, including the the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in Randolph County.

 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The West Virginia Senate Thursday passed a rules bill that contains a controversial regulation that sets limits on the amount of pollution that can be discharged into the state’s rivers and streams.

 

The Senate voted 20-12 to approve Senate Bill 163. The bill contained a series of environmental rules including the state’s Water Quality Standards.

 

Joe Manchin
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will begin holding full hearings this week with a new top Democrat: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

 


 

 

Trump Rally Charleston Sign
Kara Lofton / WVPB

It’s been two years since President Donald Trump took office and began rolling back environmental regulations on the coal industry.

The creek where the WVU Stream Lab team dropped their sensors. Save the Tygart Watershed Association has been keeping tabs on the waterway since before the coal slurry pond was installed nearby.
Colleen S. Good / WVU Stream Lab Project

The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to remove a set of 60 proposed updates from Senate Bill 167, a rules bill that outlines a state regulation limiting pollution discharges into the state’s streams and rivers.

Natural Gas, Compressor Station
Glen Dillon / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility proposed for the Ohio Valley is a top economic priority for his office.

Speaking at the annual winter meeting of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia in Charleston Wednesday, Justice said administration officials spoke this week to a “major player” involved in the development of the Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub, although he did not offer specifics. Justice said he would be reaching out to federal officials shortly to continue advocating for its development.

Huntington, Ohio River
Youngamerican / Wikimedia Commons

The Senate Energy, Industry and Mining committee voted Tuesday evening to reinstate 60 updated human health standards into Senate Bill 167, a rules bill that outlines a state regulation limiting pollution discharges into the state’s streams and rivers.

 

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed the updates to the state's Water Quality Standards in a proposed rule released in July.

Tim Reddinger, Ohio River, Beaver, Pennsylvania
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A public meeting to gather additional information that may affect an embattled regulation to limit pollution discharged into the state’s rivers and streams yielded little new data, but prompted concerns by environmental advocates that the state agency tasked with protecting human health and the environment is prepared to side with industry.

 

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A coalition of environmental groups is challenging an air quality permit issued to a proposed petrochemical plant along the Ohio River.

U.S. Senate

During a sometimes contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday on his nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was pressed by members of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works about the impact of the government shutdown on the agency as well as his beliefs on climate change.

Wheeler noted one casualty of the ongoing partial government shutdown, now in its fourth week, is that a long-awaited long-awaited plan on regulating the PFAS group of chemicals has been delayed.  

 

 

 

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)

The West Virginia Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in an appeals case Tuesday that could have major implications for residents living near oil and gas operations.

Summersville Lake
Huntington District Facebook Page. / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

1/15/19 9:55 a.m. -- This story was updated with a statement from the WVDEP.

In his State of the State address to the West Virginia Legislature last week, Gov. Jim Justice laid out a series of policy proposals, including one to develop more lakes across West Virginia.

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