Coal

Finding Meaning in the Blankenship Verdict

Dec 7, 2015
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra talks with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin about his reaction to the verdict in the federal mine safety case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.  Also, Jessica Lilly talks with Tony Oppegard, an attorney representing miners for his take on what the verdicts means for coal miners. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

AP Photo/Jeff Gentner

There’s been landmark news here in the coalfields.

After 10 days of deliberation, jurors have found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards.

AllVoices.com

A judge has ordered Murray Energy's CEO to inform coal miners about their rights to file complaints with federal mine safety regulators. The judge also ordered a 150-thousand-dollar fine before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. 

Doug Estepp / Coal Country Tours

The West Virginia Mine Wars is a period of our state’s history that until around the 1980s was often censored or left out in classrooms across the state. But a new class through Shepherd University's Lifelong Learning Program will offer tools for history teachers in West Virginia and beyond.

Doddridge County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

West Virginia's natural gas counties are the winners and coalfield counties are the losers in the state's latest assessment of the value of properties owned by public utilities.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail  says a report presented to the Board of Public Works on Tuesday shows utility property values increased by 36 percent in Doddridge County in the past year. Ritchie and Tyler counties each saw a 16 percent increase, while property values in Taylor County rose by 9 percent.

WVNS-TV

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear from first generation college students, like Savanna Lusk, the daughter of an underground coal miner and Logan Bays the son of a former surface miner. Host Jessica Lilly spoke on WVNS-TV Morning Show, previewing this week's episode.

Alpha Natural Resources

Coal operator Alpha Natural Resources is seeking to eliminate health and other non-pension benefits for more than 4,500 non-union retirees.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha says in a recent bankruptcy court filing that the benefits cost it about $2.7 million in 2014 and represent a liability of about $125 million.

Cliffs Natural Resources has cut its workforce in half at two coal mines in Alabama and West Virginia.

Both the Oak Grove Mine in Alabama and the Pinnacle Mine in West Virginia produce metallurgical coal, which is used for steel production.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University hosted a panel discussion this week about the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The new rule seeks to reduce carbon emissions in the US by 37 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.


Blankenship Trial
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

An outspoken critic of President Barack Obama charged with conspiring to violate mine safety rules before a deadly explosion is under orders not to tell jurors he's being persecuted by Democrats.

Coal Forum Rally
Dave Mistich / WV Public Broadcasting

Although the motivation for the President’s visit to Charleston was to focus on combating substance abuse around the country, others thought he should be more concerned with the decline in West Virginia’s economy--specifically in the coal industry.  

The West Virginia Coal Forum held a rally Wednesday morning, focusing on Obama and his administration’s stances on energy and emissions.

Jeff Pierson

Money. That’s what both sides arguing the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship say his trial boils down to.

For the prosecution, Blankenship employed a top-down leadership style that protected his own financial interests - both his $12 million annual salary and his substantial stock holdings in Massey.

For the defense, it’s that same money that made him a target.

You’re probably well aware that in places like southern West Virginia, it’s really tough right now for coal miners, their families and many communities. So many miners have been laid off these past few years, and those who have a job don’t have a lot of hope that they will be able to keep what they have for much longer.

A proposed rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be published Wednesday, September 2, 2015 and requires all haulage machinery in underground coal mines be equipped with technology that prevents miners from being struck, pinned, or crushed.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The unincorporated town of Comfort, West Virginia, is made up of two gas stations and an elementary school. All three sit along a winding, two lane road that on any given day is peppered with trucks carry loads of coal. Coal they picked up at the Kanawha Eagle mining complex a few hundred feet down the road, but the last several years have been tough for the industry and now fewer and fewer of those trucks roll through. 

The Miner

As the price of coal has declined over the past four years, no one state may be feeling the financial impact more than our own. West Virginia once relied heavily on coal and related industries for jobs, but now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. As part of our partnership with Pittsburgh’s the Allegheny Front looking at the future of coal in Appalachia, we zero in on how the decline of coal prices are impacting how West Virginia governments pay the bills.

Federal regulators are holding a stakeholders meeting in Raleigh County on a new coal dust rule.

Patriot Coal

The United Mine Workers of America is planning to protest Patriot Coal's intentions to eliminate its union contract that includes pension contributions.

The union says hundreds of miners are set to rally on Monday afternoon outside the company's headquarters in Scott Depot.

Patriot filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 12. The company wants permission from a federal bankruptcy judge in Virginia to reject the company's collective bargaining agreement with union miners and change retirees' health care benefits.

Elk River
Malepheasant / wikimedia Commons

  Federal regulators plan to hold public hearings in six states on a proposed stream protection rule.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation says the proposed rule overhauls a set of regulations that are three decades old.

Under the proposal, coal companies would be required to avoid mining practices that destroy drinking water sources, permanently pollute streams, threaten forests and increase flood risk.

Clean Power Plan Criticized by State Officials

Aug 4, 2015

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra joins host Beth Vorhees live in our studio to report on the reactions by government officials to the EPA’s new rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  Also, Glynis Board revisits a report issued in June that outlines how the state can comply with the Clean Power Plan.   

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Radio news – telling West Virginia’s story.


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