Energy & Environment

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in his State of the State address to the West Virginia Legislature last week, Gov. Jim Justice outlined a series of policy proposals, including one that seemed to come out of the blue.

“We need to develop multiple lakes within West Virginia,” Justice said.

Energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson wanted to find out more about the history of this idea and what it would take to add lakes to the Mountain State.

Ohio Valley Senators Again Aim to Shore Up Shaky Pension Plan For Coal Miners

Jan 9, 2019
UMWA retirees talk pension protection with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Courtesy office of Sen. Brown

Following a failed attempt to address a looming crisis in many multi-employer pension programs, two Ohio Valley lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress to shore up the shaky pension plan for coal miners. The bill also aims to protect health benefits and restore funding for the federal trust fund providing benefits for thousands of miners sickened by black lung disease.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, two Ohio Valley lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress to shore up coal miners’ health and pension benefits and restore funding for the federal black lung trust fund. Becca Schimmel reports.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, three workplace deaths in late December 2018 provided a grim end of the year for the coal mining industry. As the Ohio Valley ReSource's Jeff Young reports, 12 people died in the nation’s coal mines even as mining employment dropped to a record low.

On this West Virginia Morning, thousands of visitors come to West Virginia every winter for outdoor recreation. The state is home to five ski resorts, and winter sports generate an estimated $250 million in economic benefits annually. But warmer, wetter winters are reducing the ideal conditions for producing and keeping snow on the ground. Energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson recently spent some time learning about how climate change will likely impact West Virginia’s winter sports.

A 43-year-old miner died when struck by equipment at a Metinvest Mine in Randolph County, W.Va.
U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration

Just a few months ago, the U.S. coal mining industry was on track for its safest year in history. But in an eleven-day span in late December, three miners died after separate incidents, bringing the total number of fatalities in 2018 to 12, even as coal mining employment continued its decline.

Eastern Panhandle Gas Pipeline, Mountaineer Gas, Protest, Pipeline
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A board of high-ranking Maryland officials on Wednesday rejected a proposed pipeline across the western part of the state that would carry natural gas produced in Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

Shayla Klein and Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broacasting

For our first installment of Wild, Wondering West Virginia, we tackled a question about West Virginia’s origins. Listener Nancy Taylor wanted to know what West Virginia was like during the ice age and whether the ancient time shaped the Mountain State’s topography.

On this West Virginia Morning, our Wild, Wondering West Virginia campaign to answer questions about the Mountain State led us to a question from Nancy Taylor. She wanted to know what the state was like during the last ice age. Environmental reporters Brittany Patterson and Glynis Board were really excited about exploring this idea. Research led them to a unique place in the state which is a remnant of the ice age - Cranesville Swamp. They went to experience it for themselves and brought back this report.

Wood County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

A West Virginia city is asking local leaders what can be done about the humming sound that's drifting across the Ohio River from a manufacturing plant in Washington County.

mountains, sunset, clouds, valley
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A nonprofit has bought nearly 19,000 acres of forest land in seven West Virginia counties aimed at increasing public access for hunting and wildlife-associated recreation.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

For many people the holidays signal the start of a joyous time — snow season. It means strapping on skis or hopping onto a sled to tear into soft, fluffy powder.

That’s the case for Greg Corio, who for almost two decades has been an avid ice climber.

"The only way to describe it is it’s magical," said Corio. "There’s so many features, and so many details and little knobs and little pieces and dripping water as you’re climbing up it. It’s like climbing up the side of Magic Kingdom’s castle.”

Bill Beatty

The National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count is, for many people, a holiday tradition. Every year, for a 24 hour period between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, citizen scientists look to the skies, trees and bird feeders to identify and count as many birds as possible. This year marks the 119th season. West Virginians have been participating for about 80 years.


Still, They Persist: Black Lung Advocates Demonstrate At McConnell’s Ky. Office

Dec 20, 2018
Teri Blanton speaks about watching her father die of black lung disease.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

With just days left before a Congressional deadline, advocates for black lung treatment are still pushing Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to secure funding for miners’ benefits.

About two dozen people demonstrated Wednesday near McConnell’s regional office in London, Kentucky, carrying placards reading “Black Lung Kills” and singing along with a banjo tune modified for the occasion.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear an excerpt from the latest episode of Us & Them, in which host Trey Kay responds to a cyclical flare up of social media comments related to a “War on Christmas.” Hubbub over politically correct holiday greetings, or nativity scenes on government property, traditionalists and secularists are often at odds.

In this excerpt, Trey speaks with a childhood friend who worries the religious aspects of Christmas are being eroded from the holiday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, NPR’s Howard Berkes reported this week that more than 2,000 coal miners are now suffering from the most severe form of black lung disease, called pulmonary massive fibrosis. And despite clear warnings, industry regulators did not stop it.
The investigation caps a nearly four-decade career for Berkes, who is retiring from NPR this month.
The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Jeff Young spoke with Berkes about how he reported this story, and why his reporting kept taking him back to Appalachia’s coal country.

What sort of creatures called Cranesville Swamp in WV home during the Ice Age?
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Exciting news! We at West Virginia Public Broadcasting have received some excellent questions during the inaugural kick-off of our Wild, Wondering West Virginia project. We want to know what questions you have about the Mountain State, and here are just a few of the great questions we've already received:

Greg Kelly's grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather's house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly's small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek.

Black Lung, Red Ink: Residents Press McConnell As Deadline Looms For Black Lung Fund

Dec 17, 2018
Black lung advocates hold a 'quilt' honoring those with the disease.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

On a cool but clear November day about a dozen residents from eastern Kentucky’s coal mining region crowded into the lobby of an office building in the small town of London, Kentucky. That’s where Kentucky’s powerful senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has his local field office.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A lawsuit in West Virginia is challenging a type of state incentive to attract industry.

The Exponent Telegram reports a nonprofit organization called Jefferson County Vision has filed multiple lawsuits to stop the construction of an insulation production plant in the Eastern Panhandle, including one that targets the state's Payment In Lieu of Taxes program.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as Congress nears the end of its session, the clock is ticking on a tax that supports the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. The fund provides benefits to tens of thousands of sick coal miners in the Ohio Valley. If Congress does not extend the tax, the fund will likely slide deeper into debt just as the region is seeing a surge in new cases of black lung.

As The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Becca Schimmel reports, the decision is largely in the hands of Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

Ryan Zinke is out as secretary of the interior.

Zinke will be leaving the Trump administration at the end of the year; his successor is expected to be announced next week.

On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted that Zinke is leaving after serving for almost two years. He said Zinke has accomplished much during his tenure and thanked him for his service.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, journalist and professor Bonnie Stewart joins us to talk about the recent 50th anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster.

Adobe Stock

Three people missing since last weekend were found alive Wednesday in an underground coal mine in West Virginia, authorities said.

The three were located Wednesday inside Elk Run Coal’s Rock House Powellton mine near Clear Creek, the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said in a statement. The mine was described as nonoperational.

Senator Joe Manchin will become the Democrats' top member on the Senate committee devoted to energy issues.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the petrochemical industry is promising economic development in many Ohio Valley towns where it’s sorely needed. Like East Liverpool, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. There, The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports, the town’s welcoming this new industry while still living with pollution from decades-old facilities.

Digging For Answers: New Report Points To Industry Obfuscation Of Mining’s Health Effects

Dec 10, 2018
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Jason Walker spends $50 per month on bottled water. He spends three hours each week standing by the small stream that runs near his house, pumping creek water into a thousand-gallon tank.

“You have to catch the creek at the right time, when it’s clear,” Walker said. “Whatever you pump, whatever the creek looks like, is what you’re going to pump, and that’s going to pump right into your house.”

Walker, 31, used to get water from a well he shared with his mother, Sherry Walker, who lives next door. But they noticed changes after mountaintop removal mining started nearby.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a growing body of research shows that people living near mountaintop removal coal mines face increased risks of disease linked to pollutants in air and water.

A new report from a human rights group argues that the mining industry has tried to suppress the science about health risks and has forced coalfield communities to take on the industry’s costs.

Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Sydney Boles visited residents who are hoping for clear answers and clean water.

Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader

HUNTLEYVILLE, Ky.-- Jessica and Tim Taylor’s prayers seem to have paid off.

The rain came. It filled the buckets that lined the outside of their home. It filled the small plastic pool by the barn they use to water the animals. But not knowing how long the rain will continue makes them anxious.

“It’s beyond stressful,” Jessica Taylor said.

Manchin Changes Mind on GOP-Confirmed Trump Energy Nominee

Dec 6, 2018
Joe Manchin
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal energy board despite a video that shows the nominee saying renewable energy “screws up” the nation’s electrical grid.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved Bernard McNamee’s nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a 50-49 party-line vote Thursday, Dec. 6.

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