Coal

Coal, miners, rally, hands, dirty
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Thousands of miners have rallied and marched in southwestern Pennsylvania to safeguard pensions and health benefits.

The United Mine Workers of America says it's concerned because environmental regulations on coal-burning plants have combined with abundant supplies of natural gas to drive down demand for coal at power plants.

Earlier this week, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources asked a bankruptcy judge to let it break a union contract so the company can reorganize its finances.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

$65.8 million is now available to help people who are struggling in coal fields throughout the U.S.  $35 million of that will be distributed throughout Appalachia, where layoffs in the coal industry have been especially hard on communities.


Hillary Clinton
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Hillary Clinton has sent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin a letter saying she was mistaken in her recent comments about coal.

On national television Sunday, Clinton declared she was going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business. It provided a soundbite for Republicans who made historic gains in Appalachia running against President Barack Obama's energy policies.

Murray Energy says West Virginia lawmakers have "abandoned our coal miners" by killing a bigger break for struggling coal companies.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent's comments came after a House panel opted Wednesday only to study severance tax cuts.

House Committee Refuses Another Tax Bill

Mar 9, 2016
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill that would reduce the state’s severance tax on coal and natural gas from 5 percent to 3 percent has been postponed in the House.

Senate Bill 705 was taken off the table for lawmakers this session and instead was turned into an interim study measure during a House Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.  That would give the legislature time to study the effects of the tax cut in more detail during the months between legislative sessions.


A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H.
Jim Cole / Associated Press File Photo

The Supreme Court has left intact a federal rule that targets mercury pollution — giving the Environmental Protection Agency time to fix legal problems and come out with a revision by April.

West Virginia and Texas led a coalition of 20 states that wanted the court to block the rule while the government decided how to account for its costs.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

During a session that has largely focused on how lawmakers will close a nearly $400 million budget gap, the Senate will vote on a bill Wednesday that will cut taxes for both the coal and natural gas industries. 

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate is advancing a bill that would reduce the state’s overall severance tax on coal to 3 percent over the next two years.

Senate Bill 705 was written by the Senate’s Finance Committee and was read a first time on the floor Monday evening, but only after being debated by members of the full chamber. 

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In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear about what it’s like to actually work in a coal mine. So often we hear about miners from environmentalists or people who proudly declare they are Friends of Coal. But so much about what we hear about coal mining these days is full of political agendas.

Malcolm Wilson/ Humans of Central Appalachia

Our roots with coal run deep here in central Appalachia. But the future for the people in the Appalachian coalfields is unclear.  Although coal will likely still continue to be mined, it doesn’t seem like jobs in this industry will ever come back, not like they once were. People in the coalfields are worried. Jobs are disappearing -- and there isn’t a lot of hope right now.

Two southern West Virginia Senators discuss the economic impact the decline in the state's coal industry is having not just on the overall state budget, but the county level budgets as well which have led to cuts in programs and services as well as school layoffs.

Sen. Bill Laird of Fayette County and Sen. Ron Stollings of Boone County join us.

The coal industry is hurting. For decades, coal was the go-to fuel for generating electricity. Now that is changing.

The connection between coal and generating electricity goes back to the late 19th century. A good place to get a sense of that history is the small town of Sunbury, Pa. — specifically at the corner of Fourth and Market streets at the Hotel Edison.

AllVoices.com

Bankrupt coal producer Alpha Natural Resources has announced planned layoffs in West Virginia for the third time in a month.

Courtesy of Dale Payne

Not many Americans know the story of the Mine Wars that were fought between workers, labor unions and mine company guards during the early 1900s. In this show, Jessica Lilly talks with filmmaker Randy MacLowry, whose new PBS documentary The Mine Wars focuses on these armed uprisings by labor organizers in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. 

Huntington Lawyer for President?

Feb 5, 2016
Paul Farrell Jr.
greeneketchum.com/

Huntington Lawyer Paul Farrell recently decided to get on the ballot for president in the state. What might have begun as a joke for Farrell is no longer a laughing matter.

Paul Farrell Jr. is a medical malpractice lawyer in Huntington. He’s never been involved in politics before and never thought he would be. But he said he worries more and more about the state he’s from and calls home, West Virginia. On Sunday mornings Farrell along with his two brothers have breakfast at his father’s house. 

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The second phase of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administrations landmark rule that’s meant to prevent black lung disease, took effect this month. Among other requirements for companies, coal miners basically will be required to wear personal dust monitors.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

A Cleveland mining company has closed its remaining coal business with the sale of two coal mines in Alabama and West Virginia.

Cliffs Natural Resources announced the sale Tuesday of Pinnacle Mine in West Virginia and Oak Grove Mine in Alabama to Seneca Coal Resources. 

Coal Layoffs, unemployed
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Alpha Natural Resources continues to scale back its coal-mining operations.

Workers were told Friday at mines in West Virginia and Virginia that they were being laid off. The total in both states is more than 160, with the majority occurring in West Virginia, according to media reports.

What do Don Blankenship, heroin, and pepperoni rolls have in common? They’re all on our highly-unscientific list of top stories for 2015.

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