Energy & Environment

Updated at 4:32 p.m. ET

Barry reached Louisiana's central coast, near Intracoastal City, on Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said, before weakening to a tropical storm.

The storm has already brought flooding to New Orleans, where tornado warnings have been issued.

Residents across other parts of Louisiana have also been bracing for flooding — forecasters predict up to 25 inches of rain across much of southern Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, leading to dangerous, life threatening flooding.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

In Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives passed amendments to end military use of toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in firefighting foam and food packaging, and to expand efforts to monitor for PFAS pollution.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than a hundred coal miners and family members gathered Wednesday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in an attempt to get their pay from failed mining company Blackjewel. The country’s sixth-largest coal company filed bankruptcy last week, and many of Blackjewel’s 1,100 workers across Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia are suddenly out of work. As Brittany Patterson reports, most are still waiting for back wages as well as answers about the company’s future.

Laid-Off Employees Of Bankrupt Blackjewel Mining Seek Pay, Answers

Jul 10, 2019

 

Patrick Fitchpatrick has worked at Blackjewel’s D-11 coal mine in Cumberland, Kentucky, for a year and a half. He says he enjoyed the work right up until he was told not to come in last Monday. 

“Everything was fine,” he said. “Everything was smooth sailing and then one day it just all goes to hell.”

The country’s sixth-largest coal company filed bankruptcy last week, and many of Blackjewel’s 1,700 workers in Wyoming and across Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia were suddenly out of work.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, despite legislation passed in 2017 that allowed cannabis to be legal for medical use in West Virginia, officials say they’re still years away from the first sale. That’s -- at least in part -- because of a hangup with finding a banking solution to get around federal law.

State health officials say they also have to implement permitting and licensing for patients and those who want to start businesses within the industry. Dave Mistich gives us a look at the stalled program and what’s needed to get it off the ground.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, living in the Appalachian mountains, the nature that surrounds us often becomes a mere backdrop. We expect it to be there, so we forget about it. 

In the new book “Mountains Piled upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene”, nearly 50 writers focused on the natural world of Appalachia using place-based fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry. Glynis Board has more.

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will decide over the next six months whether to follow through with a Trump administration executive order that would dramatically change federal protections for such streams and wetlands.

The proposed revision would roll back an expanded Clean Water Act rule from the Obama administration, that included protections for ephemeral streams and wetlands in something called the “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS. 


Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

This story was updated on 7/5/2019 at 11:15 a.m.

A federal bankruptcy court in West Virginia has granted a request by West-Virginia based coal company Blackjewel LLC to borrow $5 million to stay afloat, on the condition the company’s president and CEO, Jeff Hoops, resigns.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 

When life long Valley Head resident Melissa Wilfong first heard that the 600-mile Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline was going to be constructed just a few miles from her community, she wasn’t happy. 

“My first thought was, ‘oh no, they're going to just tear up everything and be a nuisance,’” she said. 

Her opinion quickly changed after she had an opportunity to meet some of the hundreds of workers who soon flocked to Valley Head.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the state’s growing natural gas industry has expanded beyond drilling rigs during the past few years. Two multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline projects are under construction in West Virginia. If completed, they will transport billions of cubic feet of natural gas out of the Appalachian Basin to the East Coast.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

In what is the latest sign of problems for the U.S. coal industry, one of the country’s largest coal producers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

West Virginia-based Revelation Energy LLC and its recently-formed affiliate, Blackjewel LLC, began the bankruptcy reorganization process in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Monday. 

A solar array installed this month at housing nonprofit, HOMES, Inc. Solar Solution
Photo courtesy of HOMES, Inc.

Joe Oliver and Tony Brown peered into the dark crawl space beneath a Letcher County, Kentucky, home. Already, they could see problems. The crawl space had been blocked off with just a thin sheet of plywood; the posts supporting the house rested on uneven blobs of poured concrete; the whole place reeked of mold.

In this Dec. 9, 2015, file photo, the company name of Dupont appears above its trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
AP file photo

The DuPont Co. massively downplayed the cost of environmental liabilities with which Chemours would be saddled when DuPont spun off its former performance chemicals unit in 2015, according to a lawsuit unsealed Friday.

The maximum liability exposure figures that DuPont certified prior to the spinoff have proven to be “systematically and spectacularly wrong,” Chemours alleges.

Solar panels arriving in Fayette County.
Colleen Laffey

For the first time in the United States, renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydropower generated more electricity than coal, a trend the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts will continue. 

 

Mine-safety regulators say the March 2019 death of a West Virignia miner occurred because the mine operator didn't identify the place where the miner was standing as an area that should be avoided.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says the operator also didn't train miners to avoid such areas. Media outlets report MSHA released details of Adam DeBoard's death in an investigation report.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday released its long-awaited final replacement for the Obama administration's signature climate change regulation, which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by one-third by 2025.

The Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, or ACE, tasks states with developing plans that rely on the use of efficiency technologies to reduce carbon emissions at existing power plants.

Inside one section of the Entsorga facility in Martinsburg. Most of this garbage could become fuel.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Today, most of our trash ends up in landfills. In the United States, we produce more than 200 million tons of trash every single year. But what if we could turn some of that trash into fuel? Well, it turns out a large portion of Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County residents’ garbage is being turned into fuel as we speak – even if they may not realize it.

Coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have agreed to a settlement covering millions of dollars in overdue property taxes in four eastern Kentucky counties: Harlan, Knott, Magoffin, and Pike.

Gov. Justice takes the oath of office as his son James C. Justice III (center) looks on.
Office of the West Virginia Governor

Federal prosecutors have agreed to drop a motion seeking to hold West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his son, Jay Justice, personally accountable for a $1.23 million civil penalty levied against one of the family’s coal businesses, Justice Energy Company, Inc.

In an order filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, attorneys for Justice Energy proposed that another Justice company, Bluestone Resources, Inc., will pay the fine.

 

In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed to withdraw a motion seeking a court ruling that the Justices be held personally responsible for the civil contempt fine levied on Justice Energy because the company is, in effect “a shell corporation with no real independent and separate corporate existence.

 

Adobe Stock images / WVPB illustration

The West Virginia Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of landowners’ claims that a company had no right to drill on their property to access oil and gas on other lands.

Del. Sammi Brown, D-Jefferson, speaks on the House floor during the 2019 regular West Virginia Legislative session.
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Rockwool has become a household name in the Eastern Panhandle, and it sparks a flurry of discussion and debate.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Sierra Club and a coalition of West Virginia-based environmental groups took the first step Tuesday toward taking legal action against companies operating 15 coal facilities and one chloride plant in West Virginia and Pennsylvania for violating the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the days get longer, a familiar sight has returned to the skies at dusk: bats. Bats help farmers -- and the rest of us -- by eating about a million bugs a year, per bat. But because of white nose syndrome, there are fewer bats these days. In Pennsylvania, the disease has pushed some species to the statewide endangered list. As the Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier of  reports, scientists are testing a new method to try to save these animals.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the West Virginia Senate is set to put a long, sweeping and controversial education reform measure to a vote today. Yesterday, the upper chamber considered amendments to Senate Bill 1039, which has been touted by Senate President Mitch Carmichael as the Student Success Act.

Senior reporter Dave Mistich joins Teresa Wills to discuss the measure, what changes have been made to the bill and what is expected moving forward.

Head of the Ohio Regatta, Ohio River
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Conservation Agency Thursday announced it is now taking public comment on a new rule that would create a grant program for conservation projects across the state.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 


On a recent Monday, students at James Monroe High School in Monroe County eat french bread pizza, corn, beans and mixed fruit. They also have three, locally sourced salad options to choose from: a spinach salad with bright red cherry tomatoes, a pre-made salad or a make-you-own salad bar.

"We hear that these foods look so much better, put together," said Kimberly Gusler, the high school's head cook. She said that since the school began using local salad greens and vegetables and fruits when available, students appear to be eating more of them.

"They love the way the salads look.”

Update: Sunday, May 26, 2019

A massive natural gas storage tank fire in West Virginia is out.

News outlets report the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a statement that the blaze was extinguished around 5 a.m. Sunday after all-night efforts by local fire departments and state agencies.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the world waits for resolution from the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, it’s a tough time to be a farmer -- especially a soybean farmer. Soybeans are a $40 billion business in the U.S. But the crop price plummeted last year because of the trade war. Farmers are desperate for anything that can help keep their profits up. Like weedkillers.

Gov. Justice takes the oath of office as his son James C. Justice III (center) looks on.
Office of the West Virginia Governor

In apparent anticipation of a federal lawsuit seeking recovery of overdue penalties, coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have filed a lawsuit of their own against federal surface mining regulators.

 

 

The suit, first reported by WV MetroNews, is an apparent preemptive strike against the federal government, which is preparing to sue the companies over over unpaid fines associated with more than 100 environmental and reclamation violations at mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The site near Ashland, Ky., where Braidy plans a new aluminum facility.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A group of Congressional leaders asked the Trump administration to review a Russian company’s investment in a new Kentucky aluminum mill. 

The request comes from eight prominent Democratic lawmakers with leadership roles in committees with oversight, banking and national security responsibilities, including Ohio Sen.Sherrod Brown and House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff.

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