Ohio Valley ReSource

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the seven stations involved in the Ohio Valley ReSource will be taking a look at the big stories in a regional community, from large focus issues in economy, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and agriculture. Each station has a reporter collaborating to this initiative, working together to tell these stories.

The region is undergoing huge changes in all of these large focus areas. OVR Managing Editor Jeff Young states, "Just look at how dramatically the energy marketplace has changed or what a crisis opiate addiction has become affecting healthcare. Some communities are really struggling while others are finding creative approaches for new economic development, or coming up with new ways to deliver health services in rural areas."

Young says he hopes the resource will offer storytelling that allows people in one community to learn from people in another.

http://ohiovalleyresource.org/

Lawmakers Warn Of Economic Fallout From Failing Pensions

8 hours ago
A union miner at an Ohio rally for pension protection.
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multi-employer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

Hogwash: Farmers Fear Trump Trade Disputes Are Damaging Ag Markets

Jul 16, 2018
Jimmy Tosh looks at hogs ready for the market.
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Jimmy Tosh sells a lot of pigs. He is owner and CEO of Tosh Farms, Tosh Pork, and Bacon By Gosh, in Henry County, Tennessee, and has 84 contracted barns in the region where farmers grow pigs for his products.

On a recent July day, Tosh craned over some 1,200 piglets and reflected on how recent market disturbances have affected his business.

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.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

"Be brave, have fun,” Jennie Boggess instructs as she leads a room full of young students at Camp Curiosity, hosted by the Daviess County, Kentucky, Public Schools.

Boggess is the development director for the Owensboro Dance Theatre and today she is preparing students for a finale performance to cap the four-week summer camp.

Still from White House video

President Donald Trump’s desire to help boost the Ohio Valley’s energy industry and bring back mining jobs could be stymied by the administration's escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners across the globe.

Trade Troubles: Ohio Valley Auto Industry Hopes To Dodge Trump Tariffs

Jul 2, 2018
Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley’s auto manufacturing industry is growing increasingly nervous about the Trump administration’s trade policy. First came tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, key materials for vehicle makers. Now the Commerce Department is looking into taxes on imported automobiles and automotive parts. Both are ominous signs for an industry that employs more than 1.5 million people in the region. Ohio and Kentucky are the nation’s second and third biggest auto-making states, respectively.

Adelina Lancianese / NPR

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners.

Water
Jasonanaggie / Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration today released a politically charged study on the health impacts of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, including the compound known as C8, which has been detected in some water systems in the Ohio Valley.

 

The draft report, released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), finds these fluorinated chemicals, which are used in some nonstick products and flame retardants, can endanger human health at levels 7 to 10 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency has previously said were safe.

Curt and Debbie Havens’ ranch style home is the gathering place for their family. Their two boys grew up playing in the streets in this quiet neighborhood in West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Now, their grandchildren do the same.

“They played ball, all kinds of games,” Debbie recalled during a recent interview. Family photos and knick-knacks line the walls. One heart-shaped sign reads “May love be the heart of this home.”

“Everybody wants to come to grammy’s and pappy’s,” she added.

Coal Ash Uncovered: Polluted Groundwater Found At 14 Kentucky Sites

Jun 19, 2018
Erica Peterson

For decades, Kentucky’s own coal stoked the fires that generated most of its electricity. And while some of those power plants have shut down or switched to natural gas, their legacy remains today in the leftover coal ash that’s stored all over the commonwealth.

Now, new data show the coal ash buried in landfills and submerged in ponds at many of these sites has contaminated local groundwater.

Coal Ash Uncovered: New Data Reveal Widespread Contamination At Ohio Valley Sites

Jun 18, 2018
A 2011 aerial photo of Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash waste site in the country.
Robert Donnan

For generations, coal power has fueled American prosperity. But for each shovelful thrown into the furnaces, a pile of ash was left in its place.

Today, as coal’s dominance in the power sector wanes, those piles of ash have grown into mountains as coal ash became one of the largest waste streams in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

Anti-poverty activists say they will continue a campaign of demonstrations and civil disobedience throughout the Ohio Valley despite arrests at some events and being blocked from Kentucky’s capitol building.

The Poor People’s Campaign has rallied in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and campaign leaders returned to Kentucky Wednesday after the group was denied access at earlier demonstrations.

Still from White House video

President Donald Trump last week told the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to stop the closures of coal and nuclear power plants in the Ohio Valley region that are no longer economical to operate.

But a number of energy analysts say the administration’s unprecedented effort to prop up struggling utilities will do little to solve their underlying problems and will likely end up costing consumers more.  

UN Jean-Marc Ferre

The United Nations has published a report on poverty in the U.S. based on a fact-finding tour that included parts of the Ohio Valley.

The UN report says that of the 40 million poor Americans about 5.3 million live in “Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

Benny Becker / Ohio Valley Resource

A new study from the Government Accountability Office finds that the federal fund supporting coal miners with black lung disease could be in financial trouble without Congressional action. As NPR has reported, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging.

Bruce Parsons / KVEC

Student teams from across the coalfields of eastern Kentucky came together at the Knott County Sportsplex, bringing with them drones that they themselves had built. It was time for the climax of this year-long project. A basketball court had been separated with nets, and padded gates marked a circuit course for the little flying machines.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley Resource

  The Trump administration has made good on a promise to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on some major U.S. trading partners, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Birders identify species in the WVU arboretum, a popular woods in Morgantown, WV.
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On a recent chilly Tuesday morning, about 20 people filed along a winding dirt path leading deeper into West Virginia University’s Arboretum in Morgantown.

Armed with binoculars, smartphones and hiking boots, the group had one goal — spot and identify the chittering birds hidden in the trees above.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

Meredith Jensen is doing some gardening on a sunny day in a secluded part of Athens, Ohio.

“I’m working on our pollinator garden beds,” she said. “Which are a bunch of fun flowers that’ll help attract butterflies, bumble bees, you name it.”

Adelina Lancianese / NPR

The Appalachian coalfields are in the midst of an epidemic of severe black lung disease. The debilitating and even deadly disease has recently begun to affect miners as young as 30. Dust from coal mines has scarred these miners’ lungs, so little of the air they breathe gets absorbed. In central Appalachia, researchers say, one in every five experienced miners have some form of impairment, and one in every 20 now have the most advanced and disabling form of black lung.

Courtesy Revolution

J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” returns to his native Kentucky this week. But Vance isn’t selling books this time. He’s leading a bus tour of well-heeled venture capitalists looking for investment options in the region.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

pills
Wikimedia Commons

Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction crisis.

Wendy Wasserman / ARC

Not long after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky squared off with President Trump over funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, the ARC has a new federal co-chair with strong ties to McConnell.

Long-time McConnell aide Tim Thomas said he can see a day when the Appalachian Regional Commission is no longer needed. But that’s not something he expects to come any time soon.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

Regional iron and steel industry leaders say they are disappointed by the Trump administration’s delay on a decision about which countries will face new import tariffs. President Trump has postponed until June a decision on which countries will be subject to new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision had been due May 1.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

With sunglasses perched atop his camouflage cap, Brady Carwile filled out an application at a job fair in a community center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Carwile works at a local auto parts maker but he’s hoping for a maintenance position at Century Aluminum’s Hawesville Smelter.

“It’s one of the best jobs you can find around there,” Carwile said

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

A natural gas energy processor has agreed to pay a $610,000 civil penalty and install millions of dollars worth of equipment to reduce harmful emissions at hundreds of facilities across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

Trump
Still from White House video

“Why don’t you just fire the guy?”

The question came in a press availability with President Trump soon after he learned that federal agents, acting on information from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, had raided the offices of his personal lawyer, Robert Cohen.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For decades, communities in the Ohio Valley have grappled with water contaminated with toxic fluorinated chemicals, sometimes called PFOA or C-8 that are often used to make non-stick pans and other items, but this type of contamination isn’t limited to the region.

A newly-updated map shows the number of contaminated sites that are known to exist around the country has nearly doubled in the past year.

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