Coal

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday released its long-awaited final replacement for the Obama administration's signature climate change regulation, which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by one-third by 2025.

The Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, or ACE, tasks states with developing plans that rely on the use of efficiency technologies to reduce carbon emissions at existing power plants.

Jim Justice
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has agreed to pay a $1.23 million court-ordered sanction against one of his family’s companies.

Justice’s lawyers and federal prosecutors said in a joint court filing Thursday that they’ve reached a deal for Justice Energy Co. to clear the fine in three payments of $410,000. The sanction stems from an unpaid 2016 fine ordered over a contract breach.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

U.S. demand for coal to generate electricity will continue its slide in coming months despite efforts by the Trump administration to prop up the struggling industry, federal officials said Thursday.

Jessica Lilly

Robert Bailey was a coal miner for 36 years. He began working in McDowell County, and after it became too hard to breathe, he retired from a mine owned by Patriot Coal in Boone County. Bailey first told his story with WVPB in June 2014. He shared his final story with Inside Appalachia host, Jessica Lilly, on February 15, 2019. 

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hours ahead of a midnight deadline to take action on bills from the regular legislative session, Gov. Jim Justice has announced a final set of approvals and vetoes.

Of the 294 bills passed this regular session, Justice signed 266 pieces of legislation and vetoed 28.

Retired coal miner John Robinson displays his mining helmet at his home in Coeburn, Va., on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.
Dylan Lovan / Associated Press

The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue to pay benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding.

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West Virginia officials say a 38-year-old coal miner has died in an accident.

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said preliminary information indicates Adam DeBoard of Craigsville died of head injuries he suffered in a fall from a highwall mine.

Anne Li / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re wading into the American political divide and bringing you voices with distinct points of view from opposite sides of the country. It’s no secret that these days, we live in the divided states of America. Sometimes, it can feel like the only thing that unites us anymore is that now-nearly universal experience of sitting awkwardly around the Thanksgiving table with family members who have different political beliefs, trying to find a way to avoid politics altogether. 


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.

 

 

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Arch Coal Inc. says it plans to open a longwall mine in northcentral West Virginia and employ nearly 600 employees when it's fully operational.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, when President Trump delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday he’ll talk about job growth and it’s quite likely he’ll talk about coal. The coal industry and its out-of-work miners have been important symbols for Trump. 

But as Brittany Patterson reports, after two years under Trump more coal power plants are closing down and coal employment is at an all-time low.

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Authorities in West Virginia say they've arrested the four people who entered an idle coal mine earlier this month.

Kayla Williams and Erica Treadway surrendered to authorities Wednesday on charges including entering without breaking. Authorities say they entered the inactive Rock House Powellton Mine along with Eddie Williams Jr. and Cody Beverly.

Williamson, W.Va., seen across the border from Kentucky.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

If you want to understand why U.S. life expectancy is declining, West Virginia is a good place to start.

The state is a bellwether of bad health, portending major problems years before they became severe nationally.

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

Dec 14, 2018
Justus Collins, e-WV
E-WV / WV 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.

Mine Workers Sue Federal Regulators Over Controversial Mine Safety Decision

Dec 5, 2018
This MSHA inspection photograph shows where Affinity mine shuttle operator John Myles was killed in 2013.
MSHA

The United Mine Workers of America is suing the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, after the agency reduced its heightened oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. 

U.S. Coal Consumption Drops To Lowest Level Since 1979

Dec 4, 2018
Superintendent Jackie Ratliff, a coal miner, holds coal running through a processing plant in Welch, W.Va.
AP file photo

Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration’s pledges to revive the U.S. coal industry.

AllVoices.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has made three appointments to the state's Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Justice said in a news release that he appointed Eugene White to replace the retiring Greg Norman as the office's director.

Peabody Energy, Inc.
Wikimedia Commons

Bluestone Resources says it is hiring 290 more workers for its coal-mining operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

Brian M. Powell / Wikimedia

A major coal-fired power plant in Willow, Island West Virginia will not close in January 2019 as previous planned. Pleasants Power Station will remain open through May 2022 under a settlement agreement approved by a bankruptcy court last month.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jeannette Walls grew up poor in America. She wrote about it in her memoir "The Glass Castle," which has remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for more than eight years. She spent most of her childhood west of the Mississippi River, but her father, who was originally from West Virginia, eventually brought her family back to McDowell County, where she lived for four years. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll listen back to an interview Jessica Lilly did with Walls in 2017, just before the movie inspired by her book was released in theaters. 


Climate change and energy jobs are hot issues, but they spark very different reactions from folks in different parts of the country. Those reactions are the heart of this installment of “Red State, Blue State," our weekly chat between Trump Country and the Blue Bubble.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hundreds of miners have been laid off, effective Thursday, Oct. 18, following a mine closure in Wyoming County. As Molly Born reports, the news is a blow to the region -- and some miners are now considering getting out of the industry altogether.

This Feb. 15, 2017 photo shows railroad tracks along the West Virginia town of Matoaka, which once carried coal trains several times a day and at night.
Michael Virtanen / AP

A West Virginia coal mine that employs about 400 workers is closing after a deal to sell it fell through.

Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement saying the closing of the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County will displace a lot of miners. He says he is hopeful the mine "has not seen its last days."

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Westmoreland Coal Company, one of the oldest mining companies in the country, became the second major coal bankruptcy of the Trump presidency Tuesday when the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Texas court.

The company, which has a substantial presence in the Ohio Valley, has for years faced mounting difficulties as it continued to take on debt while many of the power plants that used its coal announced they intend to close or switch to cleaner fuels.

 

Office of the WV Governor, via Flickr

The Justice family companies’ difficulties paying taxes over the years are well documented. But tax collectors haven’t been the only ones trying to recover debts from companies once operated by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and now in control of his family.

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.

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

President Donald Trump picked West Virginia as the place to announce he'd roll back pollution rules for coal-fired power plants. But he didn't mention that coal country would be hit the hardest by the health impacts.

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.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

At a campaign rally in Charleston for state attorney general and senate candidate Patrick Morrisey, President Donald Trump touted the coal industry’s comeback in West Virginia.

“And it is really happening -- we are back,” Trump told the cheering crowd, many of whom were sporting hard hats and carrying “Trump Digs Coal” signs. “The coal industry is back.”

EPA Moves To Dramatically Cut Regulation of Coal Power

Aug 21, 2018
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The Trump administration moved to dismantle another major piece of President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy on Tuesday, proposing to dramatically scale back restrictions on climate-changing emissions from coal-fired power plants even as it acknowledged that could lead to more premature deaths and serious illnesses.

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