Energy & Environment

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.



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

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.”

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Daelim Chemical USA, a major investment partner in a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, Ohio, across the river from Moundsville, West Virginia, announced on Tuesday that it is exiting the project. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about Karst Topography, which makes up parts of the Mountain State. Also, in this show, we hear updates on West Virginia’s special mine reclamation fund and efforts by the West Virginia House of Delegates to call a special session. We also hear from a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who discusses the importance of face masks.

Five barges full of coal being transported along the Kanawha River in Marmet, W.Va.
Eric Douglas/ WVPB

A new lawsuit brought by environmental groups raises the alarm over the solvency of a fund that can be used to clean up coal mining operations when mining companies walk away.

Three groups — the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club — filed the citizen’s suit Thursday against the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and its secretary, Austin Caperton.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

More than 50 Ohio Valley coal companies received loans totaling as much as $119 million through the Paycheck Protection Program meant to keep people employed during the pandemic’s economic downturn.

Pipeline awaits construction.


Developers of the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline announced Sunday they are canceling the project, citing ongoing delays and rising costs. 

In a news release, Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. attributed the decision largely to a barrage of legal challenges brought by landowners and conservation groups that have slowed down the project. 

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.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A new report by the Trump administration suggests the Ohio Valley’s growing petrochemical industry could be an unprecedented source of economic opportunity and growth when the county, and region, eventually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. But the assessment is drawing criticism from environmental groups and some financial analysts that warn the risk is growing for plastics and petrochemical manufacturers. 

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.

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

Environmental and economic advocacy groups from coal-producing parts of the country unveiled a policy agenda on Monday to help coal-reliant communities make a transition to a more sustainable future.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource


On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background — nature’s version of a white noise machine. 


For the tanned Currey, who also owns an industrial real estate company, being here, on the river, is as good as it gets. His goal is to share this slice of paradise with as many people as will listen. 

Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community members from Paden City, West Virginia, heard from federal and state officials Thursday about an ongoing investigation into the city’s contaminated water supply. 

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

The state agency tasked with regulating oil and gas permitting, inspections and the plugging of abandoned wells is facing a major budgetary shortfall and is expecting to cut staff by more than 35 percent. 

James Martin, director of the Office of Oil and Gas for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection told members of the DEP Environmental Protection Advisory Council Tuesday that permit requests from the industry were down substantially this year. The Office of Oil and Gas receives the bulk of its funding from permitting fees. 

Department of Environmental Quality Firector, David Paylor walks along a retention pond for a spring near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline June 6, in Bolar, Va.
Steve Helber / Associated Press


Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a victory to the 600-mile Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline.

The issue at hand was whether the U.S. Forest Service could allow the pipeline to be built underneath the iconic Appalachian Trail, which is managed by another federal agency, the U.S. Park Service.