Mine Reclamation

On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about Karst Topography, which makes up parts of the Mountain State. Also, in this show, we hear updates on West Virginia’s special mine reclamation fund and efforts by the West Virginia House of Delegates to call a special session. We also hear from a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who discusses the importance of face masks.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a veteran reporter who covers the environment about the struggling system that makes sure that mining sites are cleaned up. Also, in this show, we hear about a resolution passed Tuesday in Shepherdstown calling on Gov. Jim Justice to require face masks across the state, and we hear how COVID-19 has affected worship for Muslims.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A coalition of conservation and environmental groups is once again calling attention to pollution and unmet environmental obligations at mines controlled by now-bankrupt coal operator Blackjewel LLC. 

Courtesy Friends of Blackwater/WVDEP

West Virginia officials Thursday announced the names of the recipients they are recommending for millions of dollars in federal funding to help clean up abandoned coal mines.

The West Virginia Department of Environment Protection is recommending 12 projects in the Mountain State receive $27 million in Abandoned Mine Land Pilot program funding. 

"They are great projects for West Virginia that will spur economic development," said Gov. Jim Justice, speaking at a virtual press conference Thursday. 

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Thursday filed a lawsuit against coal operator ERP Environmental Fund, Inc. alleging the company has racked up hundreds of violations, laid off employees, and walked away from its mining operations, leaving environmental obligations unfulfilled. 

According to documents filed with the Kanawha Circuit Court on March 26, ERP holds more than 100 permits at numerous mine sites across West Virginia. With the exception of one permit, all were acquired in 2015 from Patriot Coal Corporation during the company’s second bankruptcy. 

A patch of miscanthus towers above other grasses on the former mine site
Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A new report by a group of regional advocacy organizations argues reclaiming abandoned mine lands could be a key factor in Appalachia’s transition from coal.

In its second annual report, released Thursday, the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition, highlighted 19 reclamation projects in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky. They run the gamut from installing solar on abandoned mine lands to boosting outdoor recreation opportunities like biking and hiking trails. 

looney ridge surface coal mine
Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Standing at an overlook on the top of Black Mountain — the tallest point in Kentucky —  the wooded Appalachian mountains stretch on like a sea of green for miles.

For many, this mountain is synonymous with the coal industry. It straddles the state line separating Harlan County, Kentucky and Wise County, Virginia, two communities that have long relied on mining the black gold contained in its depths.

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.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, a report from Inside Energy, a collaborative journalism project based in Colorado about that state’s coal mine clean up costs.  That story on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.