Energy & Environment

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, community members from Jefferson County and the surrounding area came together Saturday, April 27,  to hear from scientific experts from around the country about air pollution and its impacts. As Liz McCormick reports, the event’s aim was to speak “plainly” about the issue, specifically as it pertains to Rockwool – a stone wool manufacturing company setting up shop in Jefferson County.

Residual waste truck in Pennsylvania.
Iris Marie Bloom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week said it will not strengthen regulations on waste created by oil and gas production, a move that could affect communities across the Ohio Valley where the oil and gas industry is booming in the Appalachian Basin.  

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an NPR investigation found that despite mounting evidence, and a stream of dire warnings, federal regulators and mining companies failed to protect coal miners from toxic dust. Now at least 2,000 miners are dying from an epidemic of severe black lung linked to that toxic dust.

This morning, we hear a conversation between Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly and Becca Schimel, one of the reporters with the Ohio Valley ReSource who has followed how the medical costs for black lung may soon fall increasingly to taxpayers.

Byron Jorjorian/TNC

A conservation group chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the purchase of a massive property in Appalachian forest to protect habitat and help wildlife adapt to the challenges of climate change.

The property covers 100,000 acres of forest straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit that made the purchase, said it plans to restore forest health, lease land for sustainable forestry, and provide opportunities for locals to enjoy the wilderness.

Amy Sisk

Editor's Note:  The issues at Duquesne Light are not unique to Pittsburgh. Regions and industries across the country are facing the challenges of an aging workforce.  As a part of a larger project West Virginia Public Broadcasting is looking at the issue in its American Graduate/Getting to Work project.

At a Duquesne Light facility in Pittsburgh, 10 high school students hunched over sheets of paper, pens in hand, as they sketched their dream homes.

“I’m just drawing an A-frame house with a garage on the side, a nice front porch,” said Louis Charlier of Beaver Area High School on a recent Thursday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a fire at a US Steel plant crippled its ability to control its air pollution in December. For three months, the Pittsburgh area was blanketed with releases of sulfur dioxide much higher than usual, and thousands reported suffering from poor air quality. Last week, the steelmaker finished repairing its pollution control equipment. For State Impact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports that the worries about air pollution and its health impacts, remain.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

State and federal politicians announced initiatives this week to move forward an effort to build a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility in the Ohio Valley, an effort opposed by environmental activists who fear a petrochemical expansion in the region will threaten not only the environment, but public health.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an almost decade-long effort to build a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility in the Ohio Valley saw movement this week, as state and federal politicians announced initiatives to move it forward. But as Brittany Patterson reports, not everyone is on board.

Coal Community Residents Again Ask Congress For Health Study Of Mountaintop Removal

Apr 10, 2019
mountaintop removal
Vivian Stockman and Southwings

Residents of Appalachian coal communities told a Congressional subcommittee Tuesday that the controversial mining practice known as mountaintop removal should be halted until its health effects are better studied.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, four current and former Richwood officials were indicted and arrested earlier this month on charges they embezzled money from the city. Some of those charges are related to the misuse of public funds after a devastating flood in June 2016. Dave Mistich spoke with state Auditor John B. McCuskey about his office’s investigation into Richwood and other efforts to combat fraud around the state.

Harpers Ferry view from the hill
Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, led in part by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, have introduced a bill that would permanently fund a popular land conservation program that has provided money for conservation and recreation access in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.

How Many Oil and Gas Jobs Are There in W.Va.? It’s Surprisingly Hard to Say

Apr 8, 2019
Natural gas pipe for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline sits in a yard Feb. 27, 2019, near Morgantown, W.Va.
Larry Dowling / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Del. Joshua Higginbotham, a Republican, touted the number of jobs created by the gas and oil industry in West Virginia during a Jan. 23 interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“Tens of thousands of jobs (are) created in West Virginia by the natural gas and oil industries,” Higginbotham said.

Have that many jobs been created by the industry within West Virginia? The answer is more complicated than we initially expected -- so much so that we’re not providing a Truth-O-Meter rating for his statement. Instead, we’ll look at a few different ways of measuring this statistic, each of which have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Mine Safety Debt For WV Gov. Justice’s Family Companies Grows to $4M

Apr 8, 2019
Courtesy WV Governor's Office

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in delinquent debt for mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in unpaid mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts. As Brittany Patterson reports, the Justice companies continue to have the highest unpaid mine safety debt in the nation.

House Subcommittee To Consider Coal Mine Reclamation Bill

Apr 3, 2019
CVI

A congressional subcommittee will hear testimony Thursday in support of a bill that would help clean up and redevelop surface mine land. The bill enjoys bipartisan support, but still faces hurdles.

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

Mick Henderson runs the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant in west Kentucky. He said the past year for U.S. ethanol producers, including in the Ohio Valley, has been rough.

“We’ve just passed our 15th anniversary just now, and this is going to be one of our weakest years,” Henderson said.

Janet Butler / USFWS

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s namesake is apparent upon stepping outside its visitors center in Williamstown, West Virginia. Gazing past bird feeders and the forested bank of the Ohio River, a skinny island looms large.

“So Buckley Island is right across the water from us,” says Michael Schramm, visitor services manager at the refuge.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the next installment of our occasional series Windows into Health Care. Health reporter Kara Lofton speaks with hospice nurse Lori Carter. Carter has been a hospice nurse for 20 years. She said for her, and for many of the hospice nurses she knows, the work is a calling.

Carter says some of what she does is straight-up nursing – managing pain, dressing wounds and addressing symptoms of end-stage disease. But the more subtle part of the job is helping families navigate one of the most intimate and emotional times of their lives.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, last month, President Donald Trump signed into law the Natural Resources Management Act, a public lands bill that reauthorized a little-known, but important program -- the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Millions of dollars from the LWCF have been spent across the Ohio Valley.

As Brittany Patterson reports, reauthorization of this program is a rare bipartisan win, and some of the bill’s provisions will make long-awaited public lands projects in the region a reality.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Governor Jim Justice released justifications Friday for 15 bills passed by the West Virginia Legislature that he vetoed due to technical errors, including two that would have impacted the state's natural gas industry.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A collaborative art exhibit at West Virginia University focuses on one of the state’s most abundant resources -- water. It also celebrates the many women who protect it.

Featuring brightly colored panels covering wide swaths of the downtown campus library’s walls, “WATER: Exploring the Significance, Power and Play of Life’s Critical Resource” explores the state’s rivers and wetland ecosystems, celebrates the art and recreation opportunities afforded by water, and explores challenges and solutions facing the state’s water resources.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs began a series this year called Opportunity in America from its national network of teen reporters. It examines the tough choices young people face these days.

A team from Morgantown High School led by senior Alia King and teacher Tiphani Davis worked with SRL producers to investigate how young people are searching for economic mobility. We hear the story the team of students produced, which aired on West Virginia Public Broadcasting television stations last week.

Gas, natural gas, pipeline, energy, valve
Dollar Photo Club

Mountaineer Gas Co. has asked the Public Service Commission for a rate increase.

Retired coal miner John Robinson uses a nebulizer during his daily breathing treatments for black lung disease on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Coeburn, Va.
Dylan Lovan / Associated Press

Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration.

NASA

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is having an Earth Day celebration next month.

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 23 at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia in Charleston.

Toyota Driving Demand For Solar Power In Ohio Valley

Mar 18, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. The plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old surface coal mine property in Kentucky.

Sources close to the deal tell the Ohio Valley Resource that the Kentucky site is part of a much larger plan. Toyota plans to purchase as much as 800,000 megawatt hours per year, or roughly 365 megawatts, of renewable energy, primarily from developers in Appalachia and the South.

John Deskins / West Virginia University

Economists at West Virginia University say parts of the state are seeing job growth after economic downturn, but other areas have a longer road to economic recovery.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia morning, automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. As Sydney Boles reports, the plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old coal mine in Kentucky.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia officials say a 38-year-old coal miner has died in an accident.

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said preliminary information indicates Adam DeBoard of Craigsville died of head injuries he suffered in a fall from a highwall mine.

Adobe Stock

A bill that would reduce the severance tax on coal used by power plants is one step closer to passing.

After much debate Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 3142. The measure, which has already passed the House, now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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