Energy & Environment

In Southern W.Va., Residents Wary of Water's Health Effects

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

Joanna Bailey remembers crowding around the kitchen table with her family, carefully sticking stamps on the corners of her neighbors’ monthly water bills. Her dad managed water service in Glover, an old coal town along the Guyandotte River in Wyoming County.

Stirring the Waters: Investigating Why Many in Appalachia Lack Reliable, Clean Water

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

For many families in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water has become part of daily life.

They buy bottled water rather than drink what comes out of their taps. They collect rainwater in buckets, fearing there won’t be any running water at all the next day. They drive to natural springs on the sides of highways and backroads to fill up jugs for cooking and making coffee.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Molly Born and Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Caity Coyne have been working on a series of stories about water infrastructure issues in the southern coalfields. They’re both fellows with Report for America, an initiative that aims to strengthen local journalism.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Molly Born, Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Caity Coyne and Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Will Wright have been working on a series of stories about water infrastructure issues in the southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky coalfields.

Mine Workers Sue Federal Regulators Over Controversial Mine Safety Decision

Dec 5, 2018
This MSHA inspection photograph shows where Affinity mine shuttle operator John Myles was killed in 2013.
MSHA

The United Mine Workers of America is suing the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, after the agency reduced its heightened oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. 

U.S. Coal Consumption Drops To Lowest Level Since 1979

Dec 4, 2018
Superintendent Jackie Ratliff, a coal miner, holds coal running through a processing plant in Welch, W.Va.
AP file photo

Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration’s pledges to revive the U.S. coal industry.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

More than 100 people braved freezing temperatures to both listen and have their say in front of Ohio environmental officials at a recent hearing in Belmont County, Ohio. For the three dozen or so people who testified, the stakes were high.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the abundance of natural gas from fracking could soon fuel a new petrochemical industry in the Ohio Valley. A massive facility proposed for Belmont County, Ohio, brings both the promise of economic gains and environmental risks. Reporter Brittany Patterson attended a recent public hearing, where residents spoke up about what kind of future they want for the Ohio Valley.

climate change WVU College of Law
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

Teachers, scientists, longtime climate change communicators and others gathered Saturday at West Virginia University’s College of Law to talk about one of the greatest threats facing the world: climate change.

The theme of the 7th National Energy Conference centered on climate change communication. Speakers and attendees acknowledged that invoking the topic can be especially challenging in West Virginia because of the state’s history with coal.

 

For the next two weeks, leaders from around the world are attending a major climate conference in Poland. They will talk about how to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and how to support those communities that are already being affected by climate change.

Updated Nov. 26 at 3:12 p.m. ET

NASA's InSight probe landed successfully on Mars Monday shortly before 3 p.m. ET.

Two tiny spacecraft that flew with the lander to Mars were able to relay telemetry from the probe as it descended to the surface. As a result, mission managers knew immediately that the landing had worked. Unsurprisingly, the control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., erupted in cheers.

Fifty years ago this week, 78 men were killed when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia. The Farmington Mine Disaster devastated a small town and ushered in new health and safety laws nationwide.

George Butt was in the first grade in November 1968 when his father put in his two weeks' notice at the No. 9 mine. Harold Wayne Butt had worked as a coal miner but planned to switch careers, to become a postmaster.

"They came and got me out of class and told me I had to go home," George Butt said. "Ended up finding out the tragedy when I got there."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, it’s time to gather round the table with family, eat turkey, and talk. America’s political divisions seem to amplify during the holidays, as families across the country gather and either talk politics politely -- or avoid it altogether. In today’s episode of West Virginia Morning, we bring you another installment of “Red State Blue State.”

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

11/20/2018 8:55 p.m.: This story was updated with information from Diversified. 

 

The West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization is asking state environmental regulators for a hearing to discuss a proposed transfer of more than 3,800 oil and gas wells located across West Virginia.

 


 

Farmington No. 9: The West Virginia Disaster that Changed Coal Mining Forever

Nov 20, 2018
Jesse Wright / WVPB

In 1969, the world’s attention turned upward to the Moon, as Neil Armstrong took humankind’s first momentous step off Earth onto another world.

But that year also saw momentous federal legislation spurred by a disaster that riveted the nation’s attention downward, hundreds of feet below the Earth and the hills of West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning… Vultures usually get a bad rap. But that hasn’t always been the case – find out why. And we hear a story from the Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple about having tricky conversations over Thanksgiving dinner.

Brittany Patterson

When Jennie and Brian Kahly decided to move to a 150-acre family farm in West Virginia’s Preston County, they thought a lot about what type of farmers they wanted to be.

“We went ahead and made a list of values, and one of those values was to minimize our fossil fuel use,” Jennie said. “That doesn't mean we don't use fossil fuels. It means we make a conscious effort to minimize them.”

Installing solar panels was high on their wish list. After two years of planning, this fall Possum Tail Farm began running on sunshine.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, states in the Ohio Valley are cultivating economic benefits by embracing clean energy, and we remember the Farmington Mine Disaster that occurred 50 years ago this week.

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. 

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