Energy & Environment

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice says a federal court should not overturn the conviction of former coal baron Don Blankenship.

Bernard McNamee
U.S. Senate

The Trump administration’s nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission faced tough questions from lawmakers Thursday. It was over whether the longtime energy lawyer could impartially serve at the agency after helping the administration craft its coal and nuclear power plant bailout plan.

A surface mine in Letcher County, Kentucky. The reclaimed part of the mine is seeded with grass.
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

From solar farms in Virginia to a green energy subdivision in Kentucky, a new report by a group of regional advocacy organizations highlights 20 ready-made projects across the Ohio Valley that could give abandoned mining operations that were never cleaned up a second life, and create new economic opportunity across the region.

 

Jean Snedear.

The U.S. Department of Energy named a new director of the agency’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. The new director, Brian Anderson, comes from West Virginia University’s Energy Institute.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the mid-term election is behind us, but the implications of the election will be with us for some time. So news director Jesse Wright asked long-time West Virginia Morning contributor Dr. Robert Rupp, a professor of history and political science at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, to put this election in historical context and talk about what it might mean for the next state legislative session.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the state’s 3rd Congressional District is one of the country's most closely watched U.S. House races in the 2018 general election. Richard Ojeda, of Logan, is an Army veteran and Democratic state senator who became an advocate for striking teachers. He is running against Carol Miller, a Republican state delegate, bison farmer and small business owner from Huntington, who’s backed by Donald Trump. Molly Born reports.

Dozens of locals came out to rally before the W.Va. Public Service Commission's public hearing on the Mountaineer Gas Pipeline expansion into the Eastern Panhandle. October 24, 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Public Service Commission traveled to Shepherdstown this week for a public hearing to address concerns about a pipeline expansion project in the Eastern Panhandle. About a hundred people showed up to rally before the event. Dozens went on to speak during the hearing – and many took the opportunity to mention the controversial Rockwool manufacturing company.

Pipe ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A group of landowners along the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal in their eminent domain lawsuit against federal regulators and developers.

The plaintiffs filed a petition this week asking the high court to reverse a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court over the summer affirmed the ruling of a lower-court judge who didn't rule on the case's constitutional issues but dismissed them, saying she lacked jurisdiction.

StoryCorps

Longtime friends Elizabeth Dinkins, 45, and Kathy Zerkle, 57, visited the StoryCorps Airstream in Charleston earlier this fall to talk about their work as women river guides, the rafting community in West Virginia and how the river has influenced them.

McConnell Hints At Action To Preserve Tax Supporting Black Lung Fund

Oct 24, 2018
An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

Amid a surge in cases of black lung disease, concerns are rising about the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides federal benefits to some coal miners with the disease. A tax that supports the fund would be cut by half at the end of the year unless Congress acts.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, more than 35 percent of children ages 10-17 in West Virginia are overweight or obese, according to an annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report released today. The report outlines policy ideas for how to blunt the upward trend of obesity -- one of them is helping kids to be more physically active. Kara Lofton reports on a new grassroots program that helps kids get more active through mountain biking.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A major natural gas pipeline under construction in West Virginia and Virginia cannot continue construction under streams, rivers and wetlands across its entire 303-mile route, following the decision late last week by a federal agency.

In a letter sent Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Pittsburgh District told Mountain Valley Pipeline officials they were suspending the project's water crossings permit, also known as the Nationwide Permit 12, for Wetzel and Harrison counties. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a West Virginia journalist recently received a MacArthur Fellowship, a prestigious award that comes with a stipend of 625-thousand dollars. Investigative reporter Ken Ward Jr. was one of only 25 people named for the awards 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…” Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly, spoke with Ward about his work.

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. 


Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Can apples grow on an abandoned mine site? That’s a question the West Virginia National Guard is spending more than $5 million to find out.

West Virginia was given $30 million in 2016 to invest in economic development projects across the state. The money came from the 2015 omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress. There was a catch, though—groups would have to build their projects on former Abandoned Mine Land sites. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in the past, President Trump has written off science and called climate change a “total and expensive hoax.” This week, Trump said in an interview with 60 Minutes that the climate is changing, but it’s not “man-made”, it might reverse itself, and it’s not worth losing millions of jobs over. After all, Trump has promised to jumpstart the struggling coal industry. 

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."

Anti-Rockwool signs like this one can be seen throughout the Eastern Panhandle. Photo taken in Aug. 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Developers of a coal and gas-fired manufacturing plant that's under construction in West Virginia have been cited by state regulators for violating environmental regulations.

The results are in. And this year's winner in Katmai National Park and Reserve's annual "fattest bear" contest is 409 Beadnose.

"Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year's most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory," the national park posted on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of WVU

Watershed restoration group Friends of Deckers Creek has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor water quality.

The Morgantown-based nonprofit received the grant to help improve the health and water quality of the nearly 25-mile-long tributary of the Monongahela River, according to a press release by EPA.


Some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded that global warming is likely to reach dangerous levels unless new technologies are developed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says pledges from the world's governments to reduce greenhouse gases, made in Paris in 2015, aren't enough to keep global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial temperatures.

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.

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

Courtesy of ACEEE

West Virginia is almost dead last in a nationwide ranking of energy efficiency policies released this week by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The Mountain State tied for 49th place in a ranking of energy efficiency policies nationwide, down from 47th last year. 

A truck hauls coal away from the Coalfields Expressway site.
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to pave nearly nine miles along the Coalfields Expressway between Mullens and Slab Fork., according to a press release Wednesday from Governor Jim Justice's office.  Work also extends to include the Mullens Connector. The infrastructure project is nearly 30 years in the making.

On this West Virginia Morning, how do you prepare for a potential gas leak or explosion for a nearby pipeline? How are companies helping residents to prepare? We’ll find out more on this West Virginia Morning.

The West Virginia Supreme Court chamber.
West Virginia Judiciary

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on 10/4/18

Lawyers representing a handful of Harrison County landowners in an upcoming case set to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court are asking Justice Jenkins to recuse himself.

In the motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for the landowners argue Jenkins should remove himself from an an upcoming appeals case because of a potential conflict of interest.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a young woman who shares one of the most difficult experiences she’s faced – losing a loved one to a drug overdose; a conversation about loss, faith, and love as we continue hearing the conversations recorded by StoryCorps in West Virginia.

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