Energy & Environment

Power Lines
Kreuzschnabel / wikimedia commons

Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power have filed a settlement agreement seeking to use tax reform funds to offset fuel and vegetation management costs, allowing customer rates to remain stable for two years.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, eight former coal mine employees in western Kentucky faced arraignment last week on federal charges that they conspired to falsify monitoring of coal dust, which can cause black lung disease. The unusual case comes amid a surge in black lung, and the fraud charges highlight the risks miners face. Miners say cheating on dust monitors is widespread. And a recent change in Kentucky law could make it harder for those with black lung to get benefits.

Also on today's show, strengthened stream protection regulations spurred a fight between unlikely foes -- environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs -- about whether those protections go too far.

And Gene Kendzior tells his daughter, Jennifer, about her grandfather, who died working in a coal mine in 1967.

Wikimedia Commons

Federal regulators have halted construction of two major natural gas pipelines that cross through Appalachia this month, following several federal court decisions.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) halted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Friday, Aug. 10. The agency issued a similar stop-work order earlier this month for the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline. Both orders followed decisions issued by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appeals court based in Richmond, Virginia.

Photo courtesy of Wood County 911

A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit in connection with an industrial fire in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll visit a plantation owned by a villainized African-American woman, and we’ll hear the latest on halted construction of both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Pipeline awaits construction.
SETH PERLMAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Federal regulators halted all construction of the 604-mile, interstate Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) following a federal court’s ruling this week that invalidated two major federal permits.

The Friday evening decision comes just a week after regulators issued a similar stop work order for another major interstate natural gas project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

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

Federal regulators have approved parts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline's plan to stabilize areas of the pipeline's route that are under construction and ensure that work already in progress does not become an environmental liability.

The document, mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after it halted all construction of the 303-mile pipeline earlier this month, drew criticism from environmental groups that said the plan effectively greenlights continued pipeline construction.

Hundreds gathered in Charles Town Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018 to protest a new manufacturing plant being built in nearby Ranson. The plant will manufacture stone wool insulation a few miles from public schools and neighborhoods.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 at 8:10 a.m. with additional interviews, plus reactions from local residents and the Jefferson County Commission, and FAQs from the W.Va. DEP.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is reconsidering how it permits stream crossings for natural gas pipelines and other federal projects approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, owning a dog is said to help improve self-esteem. Man's best friend can improve social lives, makes us less lonely, and even help keep us active.  In our next installment of our summer series Outside in Appalachia, health reporter and dog-lover Kara Lofton explores how to safely enjoy outdoor recreation to maximize the physical and mental benefits of pet ownership as well as explore local natural resources.

Win For Wetlands: Program Helps Farmers Conserve More Flood-Prone Land

Aug 4, 2018
The Relict darter is endemic to Bayou de Chien in west Kentucky.
Bec Feldhaus Adams

West Kentucky farmer Judy Wilson says her family is a bit of a sundry bunch.

“We love the farm, but we also love all the nature,” she said.

Wilson is driving down a back-country road that divides two fields, to the left is her soybean crop and to the right is 102 acres that she has placed in the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program, something her husband always wanted.

Pipeline awaits construction.
SETH PERLMAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Federal regulators have ordered all construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to temporarily cease.

In a letter sent Friday, Aug. 3, by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to pipeline officials, the agency ordered construction to stop across the pipeline’s entire 303-mile route.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an Ohio-based collaborative thinks journalists can play a bigger role in solving the region’s opioid crisis. Aaron Payne reports that the effort starts with listening to people in some of the hardest-hit communities.

Vivian Stockman and Southwings

An area roughly the size of Delaware has been mined for coal in Appalachia using mountaintop removal, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Cicadas have been seen doing some strange things, like moving around and mating despite having up to a third of their bodies missing. Researchers suspect that fungi are involved. Several scientists at West Virginia University took advantage of the 17-year cicadas that emerged about two years ago to dig a little deeper. So they investigated the relationship between cicadas and certain kinds of fungi by looking very closely at what kinds of compounds are in the fungus.

Two southern West Virginia communities will receive nearly $2 million in federal funding for water and wastewater projects.

Money, Cash
2bgr8 / Deviantart

Appalachian Power's plan to use federal tax cut savings to mainly offset program costs is being questioned by an agency that represents West Virginia ratepayers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, coal companies in central Appalachia have used mountaintop removal to mine coal for decades. The controversial process blows the tops off mountains to reach the coal seams below. Researchers and policy makers have struggled to understand the full extent of mountaintop removal across the region. Brittany Patterson reports on a new study that provides a big-picture view of the mining method’s impact.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Federal officials have announced a $2.2 million proposed settlement with CSX Transportation to resolve the company's liability for water pollution violations stemming from a train derailment that caused an oil spill in West Virginia.

Freedom Industries
AP

West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito say the state is receiving $1.2 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to battle surface water pollution.

A release from the two U.S. senators says the grant will also help West Virginia implement an "effective underground storage tank state regulatory program."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, with thousands of miles of new natural gas pipelines going in the ground in Appalachia and other regions, the government agency in charge of gas line infrastructure recently asked for input on how to improve the pipeline approval process. The comment period has been open since late April. As Nancy Andrews reports, hundreds of people and organizations have submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A pilot-scale facility that extracts valuable rare earth elements from coal waste byproducts officially opened its doors this week at West Virginia University.

Advocates of the project are hopeful that environmental waste left by Appalachia’s coal mining legacy could one day fuel an economic boom in the region while also providing some national security.

Nancy Andrews

Seventy-five-year-old farmer Curtis Johnson doesn’t object to pipelines, but does take issue with some of their construction practices.

Johnson sold easements to the nearly completed 713-mile Rover Pipeline, which originates in the Ohio Valley and is designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Michigan and Canada.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Moring, we hear a piece from our most recent episode of Inside Appalachia. The episode features one story about why pipeline protesters began scaling trees to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

Coal has dominated Appalachia’s energy economy for more than a century. But natural gas is emerging as a new economic force, bringing with it jobs, infrastructure needs and new environmental concerns.

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear why some are worried about the risk of water contamination from major gas pipelines being built through parts of West Virginia, projects which also promise jobs in the region.


A crater in the earth following a natural gas pipeline explosion as seen from the air.
Photo courtesy of Martin Dofka

A natural gas pipeline explosion that occurred last month in Marshall County was likely caused by land subsidence, or movement, according to federal regulators.

In a notice of proposed safety order, issued to TransCanada Corp. this week, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said shifting land likely triggered the explosion of the Leach Xpress pipeline.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the House Judiciary Committee has begun to examine evidence in the possible impeachment of one or more West Virginia Supreme Court justices. Members heard testimony Thursday from auditors on the improper use of state vehicles and rental cars, a justice’s possession of a historic desk and a fast spend-down of a budget surplus.

Federal Prosecutor Charges Coal Company With Faking Dust Samples Amid Black Lung Surge

Jul 11, 2018
An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

The U.S. Attorney for Kentucky’s Western District unsealed eight fraud indictments Wednesday against employees of the bankrupt Armstrong Energy coal company for falsifying dust monitoring samples in two Kentucky mines.

Jim Justice
Steve Helber / AP

A lawsuit charges that two coal companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice breached a contract with an exporting company.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia native Patrice Harris has been elected as the first black woman president of the American Medical Association. Harris spoke with reporter Kara Lofton recently about her new appointment and what she hopes to accomplish in the position.

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