Energy & Environment

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a West Virginia journalist recently received a MacArthur Fellowship, a prestigious award that comes with a stipend of 625-thousand dollars. Investigative reporter Ken Ward Jr. was one of only 25 people named for the awards that’s often called the “genius” award. The website said Ward was recognized for his work that reveals, “…the human and environmental toll of natural resource extraction in West Virginia…” Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly, spoke with Ward about his work.

Brian M. Powell / Wikimedia

A major coal-fired power plant in Willow, Island West Virginia will not close in January 2019 as previous planned. Pleasants Power Station will remain open through May 2022 under a settlement agreement approved by a bankruptcy court last month.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jeannette Walls grew up poor in America. She wrote about it in her memoir "The Glass Castle," which has remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for more than eight years. She spent most of her childhood west of the Mississippi River, but her father, who was originally from West Virginia, eventually brought her family back to McDowell County, where she lived for four years. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll listen back to an interview Jessica Lilly did with Walls in 2017, just before the movie inspired by her book was released in theaters. 


Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Can apples grow on an abandoned mine site? That’s a question the West Virginia National Guard is spending more than $5 million to find out.

West Virginia was given $30 million in 2016 to invest in economic development projects across the state. The money came from the 2015 omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress. There was a catch, though—groups would have to build their projects on former Abandoned Mine Land sites. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in the past, President Trump has written off science and called climate change a “total and expensive hoax.” This week, Trump said in an interview with 60 Minutes that the climate is changing, but it’s not “man-made”, it might reverse itself, and it’s not worth losing millions of jobs over. After all, Trump has promised to jumpstart the struggling coal industry. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hundreds of miners have been laid off, effective Thursday, Oct. 18, following a mine closure in Wyoming County. As Molly Born reports, the news is a blow to the region -- and some miners are now considering getting out of the industry altogether.

This Feb. 15, 2017 photo shows railroad tracks along the West Virginia town of Matoaka, which once carried coal trains several times a day and at night.
Michael Virtanen / AP

A West Virginia coal mine that employs about 400 workers is closing after a deal to sell it fell through.

Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement saying the closing of the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County will displace a lot of miners. He says he is hopeful the mine "has not seen its last days."

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Developers of a coal and gas-fired manufacturing plant that's under construction in West Virginia have been cited by state regulators for violating environmental regulations.

The results are in. And this year's winner in Katmai National Park and Reserve's annual "fattest bear" contest is 409 Beadnose.

"Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year's most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory," the national park posted on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of WVU

Watershed restoration group Friends of Deckers Creek has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor water quality.

The Morgantown-based nonprofit received the grant to help improve the health and water quality of the nearly 25-mile-long tributary of the Monongahela River, according to a press release by EPA.


Some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded that global warming is likely to reach dangerous levels unless new technologies are developed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says pledges from the world's governments to reduce greenhouse gases, made in Paris in 2015, aren't enough to keep global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial temperatures.

Office of the WV Governor, via Flickr

The Justice family companies’ difficulties paying taxes over the years are well documented. But tax collectors haven’t been the only ones trying to recover debts from companies once operated by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and now in control of his family.

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

Courtesy of ACEEE

West Virginia is almost dead last in a nationwide ranking of energy efficiency policies released this week by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The Mountain State tied for 49th place in a ranking of energy efficiency policies nationwide, down from 47th last year. 

A truck hauls coal away from the Coalfields Expressway site.
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to pave nearly nine miles along the Coalfields Expressway between Mullens and Slab Fork., according to a press release Wednesday from Governor Jim Justice's office.  Work also extends to include the Mullens Connector. The infrastructure project is nearly 30 years in the making.

On this West Virginia Morning, how do you prepare for a potential gas leak or explosion for a nearby pipeline? How are companies helping residents to prepare? We’ll find out more on this West Virginia Morning.

The West Virginia Supreme Court chamber
West Virginia Judiciary

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on 10/4/18

Lawyers representing a handful of Harrison County landowners in an upcoming case set to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court are asking Justice Jenkins to recuse himself.

In the motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for the landowners argue Jenkins should remove himself from an an upcoming appeals case because of a potential conflict of interest.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a young woman who shares one of the most difficult experiences she’s faced – losing a loved one to a drug overdose; a conversation about loss, faith, and love as we continue hearing the conversations recorded by StoryCorps in West Virginia.

Pipe ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with environmental groups Tuesday and threw out a major federal water crossings permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Environmental advocates said the move could significantly slow down construction through much of West Virginia and is expected to affect about 160 miles of the pipeline's route in the state.

Developers Say Mountain Valley Pipeline To Now Cost $4.6B

Sep 26, 2018
Sections of pipe sit in a storage yard outside Buckhannon, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting file photo

Developers of a natural gas pipeline set to run through West Virginia and Virginia say the project’s cost has risen from $3.7 billion to $4.6 billion.

The Roanoke Times reports Mountain Valley Pipeline developers released the revised cost estimate Monday.

Natural gas pipeline warning sign
Richard Marx / Adobe Stock

A federal appeals court has halted work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through stretches of national forest land.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request this week from environmental groups to stay National Forest Service decisions allowing construction on about 20 miles of the 600-mile route.

MSHA head David Zatezelo during a visit to West Virginia University.
Jesse Wright / WVPB file photo

As President Trump attempts to revive the struggling coal industry, the administration’s top regulator for mine safety used a recent lecture at West Virginia University to lay out his priorities for the agency charged with keeping miners safe.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David Zatezalo outlined the Trump administration's priorities for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Donald Trump’s top mine safety regulator used a recent lecture at West Virginia University to lay out his priorities for the agency charged with keeping miners safe. 

David Zatezalo, a West Virginia native and former mine executive, focused on how the Mine Safety and Health Administration could use technology to reduce mining fatalities and injuries. But as Brittany Patterson reports, he offered few remedies for the shocking increase in black lung disease.

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Coal miners and their families in Appalachia take great pride in their work and the fellowship that surrounds coal mining. As Jeremy Brock, one former Kentucky coal miner, put it: "It's a culture. It's a brotherhood."

“Once you get used to it, I wouldn’t do nothing else," he told the documentary project, Humans of Central Appalachia, in 2016.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue our West Virginia baseball series. We’ll meet a Pocahontas County man who became a baseball umpire for 38 years. He’s retired now and lives in his hometown of Elkins. Roxy Todd met up with Virgil Broughton to find out what it takes to make a good umpire.

Protesters in downtown Charles Town, W.Va. on Aug. 2, 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that he fully supports the Rockwool development project in Jefferson County, despite the level of pushback to the project from local residents.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, federal regulators gave the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the green light to restart construction Monday. Brittany Patterson reports.

Also on today's show, in the 1976 film ‘Bad News Bears’, a down-and-out and Budweiser-swigging Walter Matthau coaches a group of ragtag little leaguers and tries to whip them into shape.

Pipe ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Federal regulators gave the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the green light to restart construction Monday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted construction of the 600-mile pipeline last month after a federal court threw out two of the project’s federal permits.

Updated at 3:55 a.m. ET on Monday

Tropical Depression Florence is continuing to bring relentless, torrential rain to much of the South. Florence has already set a record for rainfall in the state of North Carolina, and thousands have evacuated to shelters in North and South Carolina to ride out the storm.

More than 500,000 remain without electricity in North Carolina.

Updated 11:40 a.m. ET Sunday

Florence weakened to a tropical depression Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, but flooding continued to be a major danger throughout the Carolinas.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the storm is more dangerous now than when it made landfall. "Flood waters are still raging across parts of our state, and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters," Cooper said in a news conference on Sunday.

"The threat of flooded roads keeps spreading," Cooper continued.

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