Energy & Environment

The Scarborough Library on Shepherd University’s campus is home to the largest solar panel installation on a nonprofit in West Virginia. This photo shows half of its 189 panels.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


More than 180 solar panels are now on the roof of Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library. It’s one of the largest solar panel installations in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Shepherd University’s campus library is home to the largest solar panel installation on a nonprofit in West Virginia. As Liz McCormick reports, the staff who pushed for the installation are hopeful the achievement will inspire more organizations and homeowners in the state to turn to solar power.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Appalachia’s coal country is struggling to diversify its local economies amid the sharp declines in employment at mines and power plants. An eastern Kentucky organization called SOAR, or “Shaping Our Appalachian Region,” is trying to help.

The group is betting big on high-speed internet and industrial development. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Sydney Boles reports, those are proving tough items to deliver in the rural, coal mining region.

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

 

The federal judge presiding over coal operator Blackjewel LLC’s bankruptcy has set a timeline in the “hot goods” dispute over millions of dollars worth of coal sitting in railcars in Kentucky and Virginia.


courtesy Brandon Dennison

The founder of a West Virginia job-training organization called Coalfield Development has been awarded $250,000 from the Heinz Family Foundation. 


Brandon Dennison is being recognized for his work to help address generational poverty in central and southern West Virginia.

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Executives from three major chemical companies — DuPont de Nemours, Inc., The Chemours Company and The 3M Company — testified for the first time to Congress about widespread contamination from the group of nonstick, fluorinated chemicals broadly called PFAS.

The so-called “forever chemicals” persist in the environment, are linked to ill health effects, and have been found in numerous water systems in the Ohio Valley.

Daniel Breen

Last spring, we put out an episode called “Farm Wars.” It was about Arkansas farmers' never-ending battles with “pigweed” or as some call it “Satan’s Weed.” It’s incredibly hard to get rid of. There’s a controversy in that state over a herbicide called “dicamba” that’s used to keep the weeds at bay, but has divided the farming community. 

Lead-based paint was extremely popular in the early and mid-20th century — used in an estimated 38 million homes across the U.S. before it was banned for residential use in 1978.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, more than 200 mines are idled or not producing coal across central Appalachia. About half of them have been that way for three or more years, avoiding regulatory requirements for mine cleanup.

The Ohio Valley ReSource partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to learn more about how mine operators capitalize on this regulatory loophole.

In the second of two reports, energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson introduces us to a resident who lives below a coal mine that has been idled for years.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, more than 200 coal mines sit idle across central Appalachia. They have not produced coal for years. Those idled mines occupy a gray area in the regulations on mine cleanup and reclamation.

The Ohio Valley ReSource partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to learn more about how mine operators use a regulatory loophole. In the first of two reports, Brittany Patterson visited one such mine to see the effects on the neighboring community.

Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET

Hurricane Dorian has grown even more powerful, strengthening to a Category 5 storm as it approaches the Bahamas with what the National Hurricane Center warned would be "devastating winds" and a "life-threatening storm surge."

Maximum sustained winds for Dorian increased to 175 mph, with gusts above 200 mph, and further intensification is possible according to the NHC.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving to take a rare species of plant found in the Ohio Valley off of the endangered species list. Amid controversial proposals to change the law protecting rare species, the Running Buffalo Clover is an example of a successful recovery. It would join about 2.5 percent of threatened and endangered species (42 species) that have been taken off the list, or delisted, due to recovery. There are still 1,663  U.S. plants and animals on the endangered species list.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET

Hurricane Dorian, now a category 4 storm, was heading across the Atlantic toward the Bahamas and the Florida coast on Saturday — and the National Hurricane Center predicts tropical storm winds could reach the Bahamas as soon as Saturday night.

The NHC says "life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds" are possible in the northwestern Bahamas.

Led by production from its Powder River Basin, Wyoming produces 40 percent of U.S. coal.
U.S. Geological Survey

A U.S. bankruptcy court has ruled that a coal company may sell two large Wyoming mines separately from one in West Virginia.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy originally sought to buy all three mines from Milton, West Virginia-based Blackjewel in a deal held up while U.S. officials seek payment of federal royalties.
Contura would have paid $9.7 million for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, citizens are taking pipeline construction regulations into their own hands. We hear the latest on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and pipeline monitoring, and we hear reports on two rural hospitals and the epidemic of black lung disease.

Jesse Wright

 

Hotter, wetter and drier — this is what the climate of West Virginia could look like in the future. That’s according to new research by Nicolas Zegre, a professor at West Virginia University and director of the Mountain Hydrology Laboratory

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the climate continues to change, ongoing research considers how the Mountain State will have to adapt. We hear from researchers looking closely at the matter. We also hear a conversation with author Christy Smith on her debut novel "Killed It."

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

A federal judge Monday entered an order recommending former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's conviction for his role in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion be set aside.

Blankenship served a one-year prison sentence for a misdemeanor charge for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards. The April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 men.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

French President Emmanuel Macron says world leaders at the G-7 summit have come to an agreement to provide technical and financial help in combating massive fires that have swept through the Amazon rainforest.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign stop Thursday, May 5, at the Morgantown Event Center.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will visit Kentucky and West Virginia just days after releasing his plan to address climate change.

Sanders is scheduled to speak in Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday. He planned to visit Morgantown, West Virginia, Monday, but plans to visit the Mountain State have since been canceled.

Mines That Change Owners Have Worse Safety Record, Audit Finds

Aug 22, 2019
MSHA head David Zatezelo during a visit to West Virginia University.
Jesse Wright / WVPB file photo

A new federal government report shows that mines that changed ownership had worse safety records than mines where ownership did not change. According to an audit from the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, mines that changed ownership during a 17-year period were nearly twice as likely to have safety violations, and five times as likely to report severe accidents in the same period.

Brian Peshek/ The Allegheny Front

The economy of central Appalachia has long revolved around extractive industries: timber, coal, oil and natural gas. The jobs associated with these industries are often good paying jobs. They also can bring environmental and health issues to the region. 

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore how an increase in natural gas development has brought challenges and concerns, both for our health and our natural environment. But for some, the jobs and economic benefits that come with this increased activity are welcome, especially as so many jobs have left our region in recent years. 


Courtesty of the White House

President Donald Trump Tuesday toured Shell Chemical’s soon-to-be completed ethane cracker complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania, to tout his administration’s commitment to expanding energy production. The facility is part of what industry boosters hope will be a new plastics and chemical manufacturing base in the upper Ohio Valley, but many residents here worry about the heat-trapping gases and plastic waste such an industry would produce.

In this Thursday, May 3, 2018 photo, downed trees mark the route of the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline in Lindside, W.Va.
Steve Helber / Associated Press

Conservation groups have launched a new lawsuit aimed at the Mountain Valley Pipeline over its impacts on threatened and endangered species.

The petition for review filed Monday with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond challenges an approval for the natural gas pipeline that was issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Largest Pa. Power Plant to Shutter Early

Aug 13, 2019
FirstEnergy's Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

Bruce Mansfield Power Plant, for years the largest coal plant in Pennsylvania, will be closing even sooner than planned. 

FirstEnergy Solutions announced the plant will close in November, almost two years before its previously-announced retirement date of June, 2021. About 200 people work at the plant. In making the announcement, the company said the plant was closing because of “a lack of economic viability in current market conditions.”

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown just closed on its 29th season. The festival draws visitors from all over to West Virginia and has helped the state stand out in the professional theater scene. Liz McCormick sat down with Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen to talk about the festival’s legacy, impact and what’s ahead for its 30th season.

Blackjewel miners and supporters enter the federal courthouse in Charleston, W.Va.
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than a thousand coal miners left unpaid by the abrupt bankruptcy of Blackjewel mining could soon be getting some – but not all – of the money they are owed. 

Dozens of miners have staged a week-long protest on railroad tracks in Kentucky’s Harlan County, blocking delivery of a load of coal from a Blackjewel mine and demanding their pay.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a plea deal means there will not be a first degree murder trial for 65-year-old William Pulliam. The Charleston man was charged with killing James Means, who was 15. The case got national attention in 2016 partly because Pulliam is white and Means was black. Trey Kay of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s show Us & Them, reports the outcome of the case was a surprise to the victim’s family.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Janet Clayton is standing thigh-deep in a back channel of the Elk River. Clad in a wetsuit and knee pads, the silver-haired biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reaches into a bright orange mesh bag submerged in water.

Inside are a half dozen mussels she plucked from the rocky river bottom.

Pages