Energy and Environment

Annetta Coffman

This story was updated on June 16, 2020, at 4:50 p.m. to include a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The rain poured down for hours on Sunday, slamming the valleys of Fayette County with water. As the earth became saturated, local streams swelled. 

Minden resident Marie Collins said the water washed out the underpinning of her house.

“We had to sleep in the car last night,” Collins said on Monday. 


Jesse Wright / WVPB

With kids cooped up inside their homes and classroom instruction happening remotely, we thought it would be a great time to take another listen to an episode of Inside Appalachia that originally aired in 2019. We explore the power of getting children outside to learn, a topic that’s perhaps even  more important now than ever. 

Howard Berkes / NPR

Ten years ago, on April 5, 2010, 29 men who worked at an underground coal mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, lost their lives. The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group, Inc. has placed wreaths at the monument in Raleigh County on April 5 every year since. But this year, they aren’t encouraging family members to visit, due to the spread of COVID-19.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Stories about Appalachia tend to fall into two camps-- quaint stories about cultural oddities, or reports about grim health and economic statics that our region struggles with. And while those stories have merit, they aren’t the only stories that matter.

Eric Douglas / WVPB

Inside Appalachia Associate Producer Eric Douglas began his journalism career in Matewan, West Virginia nearly 30 years ago. He recently revisited the town and sat down with Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly to discuss what has changed and efforts to revitalize the town with tourism. 

The downturn of the coal industry hurt Matewan, like much of southern West Virginia. Government records show that there were 3,000 people working in coal mining 30 years ago in Mingo County, bringing in $130 million dollars in wages. Coal accounted for about one-third of all the jobs in the county and more than half of the total income. 


Eric Douglas / WVPB

Eric Gardner has a different perspective than most about the rivers in central Appalachia. That’s because he spends most of his time in them. 

Gardner is a commercial diver. He works in the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, maintaining tow boats, barges, pipelines and spillways. 

“I started out with some older gentleman that ran the company. [They]  took a liking to me and taught me a lot of the trades that I still use to this day,” he said. 

Sanders: Support Coal Country While Combating Climate Change

Aug 26, 2019
Bernie Sanders
David Becker / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has told voters in coal-producing Kentucky that it's possible to be a friend of coal miners and a believer in climate change and the need for cleaner energy sources to combat it.

In blunt terms rarely heard in Kentucky's political circles, the Vermont senator said Sunday on a stop in Kentucky that bold action is needed to confront the dangers from climate change. That course of action should include turning away from fossil fuels to curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, he said.

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across Appalachia, thousands of coal miners have suffered from black lung disease. In the 1960s, miners organized a movement to end the chronic condition. They convinced Congress to pass new laws that were supposed to make black lung a thing of the past. Today, conditions underground have changed, and the disease has come roaring back. For this episode of Inside Appalachia, we are taking another listen to this show which aired in the spring. 

Courtesy: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The recent rise of oil and gas drilling across West Virginia has raised questions about industry regulation and taxation. Many bear a striking resemblance to similar questions raised about the coal industry in years past. 

Ken Ward Jr. is a reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He’s been writing about the coal industry his entire career. He sees a number of similarities between the coal and natural gas industries and how those industries are regulated. 

Historical Photos Courtesy of the Nitro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There’s a town in Kanawha County, West Virginia where some locals say living there is a "blast."

As part of our occasional series, "What’s in a Name," we take a look at the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places. The town in question, Nitro, West Virginia, grew out of the explosives industry and was home to a factory that helped supply the U.S. Army with gun powder during World War I. Ken Thompson volunteers at the World War I museum in the city of Nitro.

Charleston's Yeager Airport
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Authorities at a West Virginia airport say a passenger's carry-on bag ignited as it was going through a security checkpoint.

F. BRIAN FERGUSON / CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL

For many families in parts of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water is part of daily life.

Blaine Taylor, a 17-year-old resident of Martin County, Kentucky, struggles to manage basic hygiene when his water comes out with sediment in it.

“I had to use a case of water last night just to get enough water in my bathtub just to get myself cleaned up for today at school,” he said. “It’s rough.”


Jessica Lilly / WVPB

Across Appalachia, thousands of coal miners have suffered from black lung disease. In the 1960s, miners organized a movement to end the chronic condition. They convinced Congress to pass new laws that were supposed to make black lung a thing of the past. Today, conditions underground have changed, and the disease has come roaring back.

AllVoices.com

Police in West Virginia say two men are accused of stealing equipment from an electrical transformer at a coal mine.

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

A West Virginia journalist recently received a MacArthur Fellowship, a prestigious award that comes with a stipend of $625,000. Investigative reporter Ken Ward Jr. was one of only 25 people named for this honor that’s often called the “genius” award. The website said Ward was recognized for his work that reveals, “…the human and environmental toll of natural resource extraction in West Virginia…” Ward recently talked about his work with West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Listen to hear part of that conversation.