Coal

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear an update from Gov. Jim Justice who is warning of mandating face masks in public. Also, in this show, we hear how colleges and universities in the state are reacting to financial challenges brought on by COVID-19; we hear the latest on the unprecedented numbers of unemployment claims in the region; we hear about a federal spending bill that may help improve infrastructure in coal-reliant communities, and we hear this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

coal
Mead Gruver / AP Photo

The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that includes two provisions that would specifically help coal-reliant communities in the Ohio Valley.

looney ridge surface coal mine
Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal production in the Ohio Valley has decreased by nearly 50 percent since 2009, according to federal data. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has flattened energy demand, which has struck another blow to the already struggling industry. Coal company bankruptcies continue to pile up.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a veteran reporter who covers the environment about the struggling system that makes sure that mining sites are cleaned up. Also, in this show, we hear about a resolution passed Tuesday in Shepherdstown calling on Gov. Jim Justice to require face masks across the state, and we hear how COVID-19 has affected worship for Muslims.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A federal judge has denied a request by coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to dismiss a lawsuit over selenium violations at a southern West Virginia coal mine. 

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

Executives with Indiana-based coal company American Resources Corporation will face daily fines of $2,500 if they continue to flout court orders, according to filings in the bankruptcy case of Cambrian Coal. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear two stories of challenges and resilience in Appalachia. We also bring you a report from the Ohio Valley ReSource on coal company American Resources Corporation.

coal truck
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broacasting

Coal company American Resources Corporation, which owns mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, is facing sanctions after failing to comply with a bankruptcy court’s orders, even after the company received $2.7 million in government aid meant for companies harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

 


coal
Mead Gruver / AP Photo

A federal investigation released Tuesday found that a lack of safety procedures at a West Virginia mine led to a contractor being fatally run over by a trailer earlier this year.

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

Environmental groups announced Monday that they plan to sue the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection over what they say is the agency's failure to adhere to federal reporting requirements for a coal mine reclamation fund.

Mackie Branham views a lung X-ray with Dr. James Brandon Crum, who was among the first physicians to note an uptick in black lung diagnoses.
Howard Berkes / NPR

Underground coal miners start their shifts getting changed in closely packed changing rooms. They ride rail cars to their worksite, shoulder-to-shoulder, sometimes for more than an hour. And once they’re underground, ventilation designed to tamp down coal dust blows air through the mine. All that makes a coal mine  the kind of place where the coronavirus could spread like wildfire. 

Bob Murray
Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

Last fall, Murray Energy — the largest privately-owned coal company in America with a large presence in the Ohio Valley — joined many of its peers in declaring bankruptcy. Murray faced mounting debt and a struggling coal market. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, tanking the global economy including energy markets. 

S&P Global Market Intelligence senior reporter Taylor Kuykendall has been following the bankruptcy case closely. Late last week, he spoke with energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson about the latest updates in the case.


Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

A West Virginia-based coal plant operator has announced that it’s filing for bankruptcy due to weak demand for electricity. Longview Power LLC, which operates one of the newest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the U.S. hailed by the Trump administration as a model for coal’s future, announced in a Tuesday press release that it would seek to restructure its debts and ownership structure under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. 

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from artisans from across Appalachia coping with the coronavirus. And it’s been about nine months since coal company Blackjewel suddenly declared bankruptcy. We check in on a father and son who are moving forward.

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Thursday filed a lawsuit against coal operator ERP Environmental Fund, Inc. alleging the company has racked up hundreds of violations, laid off employees, and walked away from its mining operations, leaving environmental obligations unfulfilled. 

According to documents filed with the Kanawha Circuit Court on March 26, ERP holds more than 100 permits at numerous mine sites across West Virginia. With the exception of one permit, all were acquired in 2015 from Patriot Coal Corporation during the company’s second bankruptcy. 

coal
Mead Gruver / AP Photo

As states across the Ohio Valley order the closure of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, coal mines will remain open. But as with many industries, the global pandemic is straining the coal sector, and some experts say the already struggling industry could face intense challenges in the months ahead as electricity demand flags and international exports stall. 

Just about a decade ago — April 5, 2010 at about 3:30 in the afternoon — an explosion fueled by methane and coal dust ripped through the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia and killed 29 miners. A new play at New York's Public Theater called Coal Country tells the story of what happened at Upper Big Branch in the words of miners who survived the blast and family members of those who didn't.

A bill that would create a utility solar energy program in West Virginia is one step closer to becoming law.

On Thursday, despite vocal opposition from some coalfield lawmakers, the House of Delegates passed an amended version of S.B. 583, 75 to 23 with two members not voting. The bill now heads back to the Senate to address two House amendments.

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Award-winning investigative, environmental reporter Ken Ward Jr. announced Monday was his last day at the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, there’s more and more conversation about what a transition away from a coal-heavy economy might look like in the state. But for many, it’s a hard reality to swallow.

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Engineers are increasingly concerned about locks and dams along the Ohio River in this day and age. We take a closer look at this issue and much more on this West Virginia Morning.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson returns to lead a conversation on West Virginia’s struggling coal industry. We’re also joined by senior reporter Dave Mistich and reporter Emily Allen to discuss the latest news from the Capitol.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Resourceful. Self-reliant. These are some of the values many people who live in the mountains pride themselves on. But could we sustain ourselves?

More Unpaid Appalachian Miners Stage A Coal Train Blockade

Jan 14, 2020
Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., Ky.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

For the second time since summer, eastern Kentucky coal miners are blockading a railroad track to protest unpaid wages. The new blockade, which was started Monday afternoon by Quest Energy miners, echoes the months-long blockade by Blackjewel coal miners over the summer and speaks to a growing discontent in Appalachian coal country.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia’s governor says a technology company has agreed to open a research facility in the state to look into using coal to make carbon-based products.

Gov. Jim Justice gave additional details about the agreement with Ramaco Carbon on Thursday after mentioning the research center in his State of the State speech.

Kenn W. Kiser / morguefile.com

 


  A new study finds the closure of coal-fired power plants and transition to natural gas generation across the United States over a decade saved an estimated 26,610 lives due to a reduction in air pollution, with about a fifth of those avoided deaths in the Ohio Valley. 

Eric Douglas / WVPB

It may be winter, but work on the waterways around Appalachia never stops. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we are listening back to an episode that originally aired over the summer about people who work on the rivers.

Our rivers are a vital part of our identity as Appalachians. We depend on them for survival, recreation and transportation. And we depend on rivers for economic reasons, too. 


Adobe Stock

A West Virginia coal miner died while working at a Murray Energy mine, Gov. Jim Justice’s office said Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Raymond Leonard Starkey Jr., 21, of New Martinsville, was fatally injured Monday while helping to repair a beltline at the Marshall County Coal Company Mine near Cameron, Justice’s office said in a news release.

December 14, 1857: Coal Operator Justus Collins Born in Alabama

Dec 14, 2019
Justus Collins started Greenbrier Coal & Coke and later opened the Whipple mine near Mount Hope.
E-WV The Humanities Council

Coal operator Justus Collins was born in Alabama on December 14, 1857. He got his start in coal mining in the Deep South but moved north about 1887 to pursue his fortune in the coalfields of southern West Virginia.

In Mercer County, Collins organized the Louisville Coal & Coke Company, one of the first mines to ship coal on the Norfolk and Western Railway. In 1893, he opened Collins Colliery at Glen Jean in Fayette County. About the same time, he started Greenbrier Coal & Coke and later opened the Whipple mine near Mount Hope.

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