Energy & Environment

Sourtesy West Virginia Department of Commerce

West Virginia's elk restoration project has added at least 15 new calves to its herd this year, according to the state Division of Natural Resources.

Over the summer, wildlife managers for the WVDNR were able to confirm the births of about 15 calves, bringing the state total elk population to 85. 


Bob Murray speaking at an event in October 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

Coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. has emerged from bankruptcy with a new name and a commitment to rehire all of its former union employees, according to a news release from the United Mine Workers of America. 

Courtesy National Park Service

The‌ ‌National‌ ‌Park‌ ‌Service‌, the federal agency that oversees America’s national parks, monuments and other conservation lands, ‌got‌ ‌a‌ ‌new‌ ‌leader‌ ‌last month. West Virginia native Margaret‌ ‌Everson‌ ‌is taking the helm at the agency. Everson comes to the role with‌ ‌decades‌ ‌of‌ ‌natural‌ ‌resources‌ ‌experience.‌ ‌

On this West Virginia Morning, the National Park Service has a new person in charge, and she’s from West Virginia. We have a conversation with Margaret Everson, the organization’s new leader. Also, in this show, we hear about a new book titled “The Southern Wildlife Watcher: Notes of a Naturalist” written by author Rob Simbek.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice gives a speech during a Department of Tourism conference Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at the Morgantown Event Center.
Jesse Wright / WVPB

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A virtual trial pitting billionaire coal magnate and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and two of his family-owned coal companies against a Pennsylvania coal exporter is set to resume in Delaware next week after being interrupted by an anonymous letter containing purported whistleblower allegations against the Pennsylvania company.

Courtesy of Bobby Balthis

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is declining to issue an emergency temporary standard that could protect coal miners whose jobs make them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

That’s according to an Aug. 14 letter from Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. MSHA can issue emergency temporary standards only when it determines that miners are exposed to a grave danger. It has only issued a handful of such standards, MSHA said, typically in the aftermath of large-scale mining disasters.

In the letter, Wheeler writes, “At this time, MSHA has determined it lacks evidence that COVID-19 poses a grave risk specific to miners.”

National Weather Service

The remnants of Hurricane Laura are expected to make their way across West Virginia late Friday evening and into early Saturday morning, according to federal weather forecasters. 

 

The National Weather Service said the storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane along the Gulf Coast in Cameron, Louisiana, is expected to be significantly weaker when it travels through the Mountain State. 

 

Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday

Hurricane Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. ET Thursday with extreme winds and an expected "catastrophic" storm surge in parts of Texas and Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Courtesy of Bobby Balthis

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is declining to issue an emergency temporary standard that could protect coal miners whose jobs make them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

That’s according to an Aug. 14 letter from Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. MSHA can issue emergency temporary standards only when it determines that miners are exposed to a grave danger. It has only issued a handful of such standards, MSHA said, typically in the aftermath of large-scale mining disasters.

In the letter, Wheeler writes, “At this time, MSHA has determined it lacks evidence that COVID-19 poses a grave risk specific to miners.”

Joe and Jill Biden following the nominee's virtual convention address.
Courtesy DNC video

 


Democrats made their pitch to the American people during a largely virtual Democratic National Convention and addressing climate change emerged as a central tenet of the party’s plan. 

 

The party platform spells out a major investment in green energy jobs and infrastructure in order for America to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission no later than by 2050. Environmental justice is a key component of the Democrat’s climate plan and it references ensuring fossil fuel workers and communities receive investment and support during this clean energy transition. 

Kendra Waybright

On his family’s farm in Randolph County, W.Va. 20-year-old Collin Waybright has a hobby that’s very different from streaming TV shows or playing video games. Waybright is one of the state’s youngest falconers. To be a falconer, you have to love birds and Waybright fits the bill. 

“They all have different flight styles. And it's amazing,” Waybright said. “They're just so effortless. They can just soar on thermals. And whenever it gets a little windy, they just kind of tuck their wings back a little bit and go into it.”


Heather Niday/ WVPB

Ginseng, Goldenseal, Cohosh, Bloodroot, Ramps – all plants native to Appalachia and all appreciated around the world for their medicinal and culinary properties. In West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia, these plants have been harvested in the wild for generations. But over harvesting of these slow growing plants could diminish wild populations. The West Virginia Forest Farming Initiative takes a different approach. The program teaches residents how to raise botanicals on their own forested land for a source of income and as a way to preserve the forests. And for the folks involved, it’s doing way more than preserving plants.


Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

A proposal to repurpose a docking facility near Marietta, Ohio, to allow for the barging of oil and gas drilling waste on the Ohio River is drawing concern from environmental groups and local residents.

On this West Virginia Morning, ever wonder what it would be like to fly in a small plane around West Virginia? We hear another story about West Virginia’s airplane industry and its remaining airfields. Also, in this show, we hear more about an unregulated landfill near South Charleston, Kanawha County that has been polluting a creek in the area for decades.

On this West Virginia Morning, should we be worried about our kids and grandkids catching COVID-19? The short answer, according to experts, is it’s unclear. We get into the long answer of this question in this show. Also, we hear local reports in government and energy, and we learn about some natural springs in Southwest Virginia that may not be as clean as residents thought.

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

 


A major Ohio Valley coal producer announced last week it will speed up its exit from producing coal used to generate electricity. In a call with shareholders last week, Contura Energy, Inc., said the move is tied to the ongoing global transition away from fossil fuels. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about West Virginia’s only World War I flying ace. Also, in this show, we learn about an unregulated landfill near South Charleston, Kanawha County and we bring this you week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 


On a recent sticky July afternoon, Diana Green stands on the muddy bank of lower Davis Creek in South Charleston, West Virginia. 

Courtesy Animal Wellness Action

An animal rights advocacy group published a report Thursday that says Kentucky is “a center” for illegal cockfighting breeding that ships tens of thousands birds across the world to the Philippines, Mexico, and other countries.

Reducing Pollution In New River Gorge Through Community Volunteer Efforts

Jul 30, 2020
courtesy Molly Wolff

Rafters and kayakers who travel the New River Gorge go through water that feeds in from several sources. One such waterway is Piney Creek. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as far back as the 1970s Piney Creek has contained sewage and high levels of fecal coliform, aluminum and iron. In 2002, the DEP listed Piney Creek as one of the worst-polluted streams in the state. A group of citizens formed a non-profit, called the Piney Creek Watershed, to help clean up the pollution.


Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


It’s a quiet, foggy morning on Highway 119 in Cumberland, Kentucky. A railroad track runs along the highway, and here, Sand Hill Bottom Road crosses the tracks and turns to the right, leaving a rough triangle of gravel spattered with trash. 

You can hear crickets chirping, birds twittering, cars passing on 119. A billboard advertises Portal 31, a coal town tourist attraction. 

looney ridge surface coal mine
Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A federal judge has ruled a coal company owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is liable for more than 3,000 violations of federal clean water standards stemming from pollution discharged from a coal mine in southern West Virginia. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from a girl in Appalachia who’s bucking some trends and embracing old traditions in the process. Also, in this show, we hear how a recent arrest of the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives could impact future energy policy throughout the region.

NYSE

 


One of the country’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, with a large presence in the Ohio Valley, has emerged at the center of a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and coal plants.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky-based coal company Rhino Resource Partners LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, joining a growing list of Ohio Valley coal producers seeking financial restructuring as the U.S. coal industry continues to struggle. 

On this West Virginia Morning, while the coronavirus pandemic rages on, so does climate change. Some researchers say planting native species in our backyard is a step in the right direction. Also, in this show, we hear reports from around the state on challenges facing our region to provide adequate health care for both hospital access and those in recovery.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

A coalition of progressive policy and environmental groups has released a “blueprint” that provides a framework for how Ohio Valley communities could reap the benefits of federal action to address climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On this West Virginia Morning, the traditional start of the school year is coming like a freight train, and educational leaders are trying to prepare for the unknown. We hear from West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch and other officials. Also, in this show, we hear a story about efforts to save an endangered plant in Appalachia.

Gasoline, Gas, Fuel, Diesel
Pixabay

Leaders in West Virginia’s capital city are drawing attention to the local health and economic effects of the Trump administration’s rollback of federal fuel-efficiency rules.

On this West Virginia Morning, calling all geo-nerds! Earlier this week, we learned a little about Karst Topography in our region, and now we learn a little more. Also, in this show, we hear a report about a new proposed climate plan presented by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and we hear a conversation with author William Jolliff about his new book called “Heeding The Call: A Study of Denise Giardina’s Novels.”

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