Energy & Environment

This year at the Legislature, energy and environment issues will no doubt be hot topics of debate. From water quality regulations to natural gas to the state's coal industry — tell us what YOU want to know more about.

Your question might be selected as the topic of a news report during this legislative session.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Resourceful. Self-reliant. These are some of the values many people who live in the mountains pride themselves on. But could we sustain ourselves?

Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., Ky.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A group of Kentucky coal miners who blocked a railroad track for three days over unpaid wages have ended their protest, claiming victory with their paychecks.

Miners and their families began standing on the tracks leading from Quest Energy in Pike County on Monday, preventing a train loaded with coal from leaving. The miners said they hadn’t been paid since Dec. 16.

It was a lifesaving mission as dramatic as any in the months-long battle against the wildfires that have torn through the Australian bush.

But instead of a race to save humans or animals, a specialized team of Australian firefighters was bent on saving invaluable plant life: hidden groves of the Wollemi pine, a prehistoric tree species that has outlived the dinosaurs.

More Unpaid Appalachian Miners Stage A Coal Train Blockade

Jan 14, 2020
Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., Ky.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

For the second time since summer, eastern Kentucky coal miners are blockading a railroad track to protest unpaid wages. The new blockade, which was started Monday afternoon by Quest Energy miners, echoes the months-long blockade by Blackjewel coal miners over the summer and speaks to a growing discontent in Appalachian coal country.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia’s governor says a technology company has agreed to open a research facility in the state to look into using coal to make carbon-based products.

Gov. Jim Justice gave additional details about the agreement with Ramaco Carbon on Thursday after mentioning the research center in his State of the State speech.

Proponents of increasing renewable energy generation in the Mountain State are once again urging West Virginia lawmakers to legalize a common financing method — power purchase agreements, or PPAs. 

Kenn W. Kiser / morguefile.com

 


  A new study finds the closure of coal-fired power plants and transition to natural gas generation across the United States over a decade saved an estimated 26,610 lives due to a reduction in air pollution, with about a fifth of those avoided deaths in the Ohio Valley. 

Empty CSX rail cars derailed on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Courtesy Washington County, Md.

Two incidents in the Eastern Panhandle that occurred over the Christmas holiday have seen some resolution.

The Ohio Valley’s Decade In Data

Jan 2, 2020
Ohio Valley ReSource

The year: 2009. A Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama has just made history upon taking the presidential oath of office. The national economy is at a low point of the Great Recession. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.

Ten years later, as 2019 gives way to a new decade, the country is a radically different place, and the Ohio Valley is no exception.

Berkeley County Public Safety via Google Maps

Updated on Jan. 2, 2019 at 1:40 p.m.

The evacuation for the .5 mile radius surrounding the Sewage Treatment Plant at 500 E. John St. was lifted on Dec. 24, 2019.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, floodwalls, earthen levees and pump stations in the Ohio River basin protect more than $120 billion in property and about 720,000 people from the prospect of rising waters. Yet many of these protection systems are more than 50 years old. Some are in deteriorating condition and rely on archaic equipment. Liam Niemeyer reports scientists predict climate change will increase the severity and frequency of future flooding. And Ohio Valley communities have little means to prepare for that future.

Natural Gas, Compressor Station
Glen Dillon / wikimedia Commons

 

Language included in the federal spending deal Congress passed this week could imperil a major natural gas storage project planned for the Ohio Valley that is seeking a $1.9 billion federal loan guarantee, according to environmental advocates. 

Aging Levees, Climate Change And The Challenge To Hold Back The Ohio River

Dec 19, 2019
Jim Casto stands up against the tiled river height gauge along the entrance of the floodwall in Huntington, West Virginia.
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

When 78-year-old Jim Casto looks at the towering floodwalls that line downtown Huntington, West Virginia, he sees a dark history of generations past. 

The longtime journalist and local historian is short in stature, yet tall in neighborhood tales. On Casto’s hand shines a solid gold ring, signifying his more than 40 years of reporting at the local paper. “It was a lot cheaper to give me a ring than to give me a pay raise,” he said with a chuckle.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, celebrations in the Northern Panhandle have been ongoing this year in the town of Wheeling – where the state of West Virginia was born. Also, in this show, we bring you a report from StateImpact Pennsylvania on shale gas imports to Scotland.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, mountaintop removal coal mining has profoundly changed Appalachia’s landscape and people. The controversial practice blows the tops off mountains to get the coal below, and it sparked a wave of protests from affected communities. One group in the heart of West Virginia’s coal country recently marked 20 years of activism against mountaintop removal. Reporter Brittany Patterson visited Coal River Mountain Watch as the organization takes stock of two decades of work.

Wikimedia Commons

A group of Democratic West Virginia lawmakers announced plans Monday to introduce legislation to regulate a group of toxic, man-made fluorinated chemicals. 

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

The head of natural gas driller EQT Corporation told members of the West Virginia Legislature the company intends to ramp up the size of drilling projects to hedge against projected low natural gas prices. To accomplish that, the company may need help from lawmakers when it comes to "fractured mineral interests."

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

Coal River Mountain Watch’s history of resistance to mountaintop coal mining is plastered across the wood panelled walls of the group’s modest office in Raleigh County, West Virginia. 

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Accessing Better Health.

About Michael Hendryx's TED Talk

For over a decade, Michael Hendryx's research has shown mountaintop removal is connected to cancer and other diseases in nearby towns. He says awareness is key for changing policy around the practice.

About Michael Hendryx

Bill Beatty

 


Volunteers are needed across West Virginia to help count birds this holiday season. This Saturday marks the start of the National Audubon Society’s 120th annual Christmas Bird Count. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Us & Them host Trey Kay talks with Bob Garfield. Garfield is co-host of the NPR program “On the Media.” He is also co-founder of an initiative called “The Purple Project for Democracy.” Its goal is to help people believe in democracy once again and show them ways to get involved and re-engage.

Study Shows Surface Coal Miners Are Exposed To Toxic Dust That Causes Black Lung

Dec 10, 2019
Vivian Stockman / Southwings

Appalachian surface coal miners are consistently overexposed to toxic silica dust, according to new research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and surface mine dust contains more silica than does dust in underground coal mines.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear about a 70-year-old music festival serving a different kind of Christian music. Also, we hear the latest on the debate over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a new study on the risks of black lung disease.

December 8, 1984: Naturalist Earl Core Dies in Morgantown

Dec 8, 2019
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia & Regional History Collection

Naturalist Earl Core died in Morgantown on December 8, 1984, at age 82. The Monongalia County native received a Ph.D. from Columbia University and served on West Virginia University’s biology faculty for nearly a half-century: from 1926 to 1972. 

As an undergrad at WVU, Core had collected thousands of specimens for the WVU herbarium, of which he became the longtime curator. On his first botanical expedition, Core discovered a new species—at the time considered the rarest plant in the world. In 1936, he organized the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club.

Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

Adding plants and trees to the landscape could reduce air pollution by an average of 27 percent, according to a new study. Specialists in environmental science, engineering and geography spent three years analyzing thousands of counties across the country. They found that adding more plants is cheaper than most technologies at reducing air pollution. One of the lead researchers is an engineering professor at Ohio State University named Bhavik Bakshi.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the abundant drilling of our region's Marcellus and Utica shales has created a glut of natural gas. That means prices are at an all-time low. Producers eager to find new markets now ship gas overseas.  StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Susan Phillips traces the path of natural gas from the forests of northern Appalachia to Japan, where cheap Pennsylvania shale gas provides energy in the wake of a disaster.

InciWeb / Monongahela National Forest

Wet, cool conditions are helping to slow a wildfire in Pendleton County that broke out on Thanksgiving.

The Dry Hollow Fire was first reported early Thursday in the Monongahela National Forest near the community of Upper Tract. 

Flight cancellations and delays continued Monday as the winter storm that tore across the United States reached the Northeast, bringing several inches of snow and coastal floods. Travel disruptions are likely, with the National Weather Service warning of hazardous driving conditions.

Neville Island, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ohio River
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Ohio River is an important ecological and economic force in the region. It provides drinking water for 5 million people, but it’s also one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. A new regional journalism collaborative is digging into what it means to live in the Ohio River watershed. 

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