Coal

Catherine Moore

This story was supported by High Plains News. It’s part of the ‘The Future of Coal’a collaboration of The Allegheny Front, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and Inside Energy.

In Kentucky, A Prairie Made by Coal

Mar 27, 2015
Reid R. Frazier

Patrick Angel pulls his pickup truck off a small road in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, and points to a long ridge covered with dried, brown grass.

“If you didn’t know where you were, you'd think you were standing in a prairie land in South Dakota or Wyoming, because it’s all grass,” says Angel, a forester with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

Representatives of the coal and gas industry as well as solar are expected to speak at a public forum in Martinsburg next week. The forum is about energy and how it relates to West Virginia’s economy.

photo courtesy Coal River Mountain Watch

In Charleston on Monday, about 200 people gathered in front of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters to demand a moratorium on mountaintop removal mining permits.

Protesters cited several health studies that show a direct link between high rates of cancer and mountaintop removal mining. One of the six environmental groups that organized the rally was Coal River Mountain Watch. Vernon Haltom is the group’s executive director.

West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries

Earlier this month in West Virginia, a CSX train derailed, causing giant fireballs to stretch hundreds of feet into the air and one home to be destroyed. Investigators are trying to figure out what happened to cause this derailment. February also marks the anniversary of other industrial accidents. On this episode, we'll hear from folks who have survived them, and hear why many people are concerned that more of these accidents could happen in the future.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The House passed Senate Bill 357 Friday, the Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015. This bill has caused a lot of controversy, so it was no surprise when the House debated the bill for two hours. Republicans feel like the bill is an update to previous safety laws, while some Democrats feel like it’s a scale back.

Bettman/Corbis / NPR

In this episode, we'll hear reactions to Obama's proposed tax credits and other funding for Appalachia. And we'll talk with documentary filmmaker John Nakashima, whose new film, "The First 1000 Days," explores the effects of poverty on young children.

 

We'll also take a look back at how the lessons from the War on Poverty could shine light on present day economic development efforts.

President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes more than $3 billion worth of tax credits and other spending to help the Appalachian region recover from the declining coal industry. People across the coalfields are responding with mixed feelings.

In southern West Virginia, many people see initiatives from the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions as an attack on their livelihoods.

So it’s not surprising to hear skepticism and doubt from the coalfields when the president announces intentions to throw a financial lifeline to Appalachia.


Emotions were high in the House Chamber Thursday as House Bill 2001 was on its third reading and up for a vote.

Fairness West Virginia

Songwriter Sam Gleaves was inspired by the story of Sam Williams, a former coal miner who was harassed at work for being gay. 

Sam Gleaves is a musician who grew up playing old time mountain music in Southwestern Virginia. His songs have a high lonesome, old-time sound. Their roots are deep in Appalachia, and the stories they tell explore some bitter truths about how hard it can be to be different here. I met up with Gleaves at his home in Berea, KY to talk about one song in particular.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  The Republican-run state House of Delegates has passed a repeal of an energy portfolio.

The House voted 95-4 Thursday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

The portfolio requires generating 25 percent of electricity with renewable or alternative power sources by 2025. Some coal-burning technologies qualify.

Patriot Coal

Patriot Coal Corp. has relocated its headquarters from St. Louis to West Virginia.

The company says in a news release that its operations office in Scott Depot became the company's headquarters effective Jan. 1.

Patriot Coal says the move will reduce administrative costs and put the headquarters closer to its mining operations and customers.

The transition began in November and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

Patriot Coal has eight mining complexes in West Virginia and two in western Kentucky.

 

"As I've gone up through science, I've realized how easy it is to have an impact on the world around you," WVU researcher Scott Cushing said, "even just doing research on the undergraduate level in a lab."
Larry Dowling / WVPublic

 

Scott Cushing grew up in the Charleston area. He once almost failed a middle school science project where he was supposed to build a machine with moving parts out of macaroni.

“It was trying to move, but couldn’t,” Cushing remembers about the macaroni engine he built. The macaroni piston failed, so the engine didn’t move. He got a C on that assignment, but clearly, he was destined for ambitious projects.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship appeared Wednesday in US Federal Court in Beckley.

Judge Irene Berger heard arguments in two hearings in relation to Blankenship’s criminal case.  

One involved a motion to lift the broad gag order while the other requested more time to prepare motions and for trial.

Several media outlets including Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR are challenging a gag order Judge Berger issued after former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

Republicans Pledge to Work Together

Dec 9, 2014
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Republican lawmakers at both the state and federal levels pledge to work together to move their agendas forward.  And Governor Tomblin tells a classroom of third graders about the importance of STEM based learning. 

Paul Corbitt Brown

W.Va. Poet: “Appalachian Blackface” Story of 2014 Election Cycle: Have you ever heard the term ‘Affrilachian?’ It’s one poet Crystal Good uses to describe herself, an African American who grew up and lives in Appalachia. Good is a native of St. Albans, in West Virginia’s chemical valley. Good’s newest poem, “Appalachian Blackface,” premiered this fall at the Summit on Race Matters in Appalachia held in Charleston.

Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Landfilling has been the main source of getting rid of waste for centuries. But a new technology coming to West Virginia may change how we think of waste disposal, and in the long run, help our environment.

Jessica Lilly

The second meeting of the SCORE task force met in Fayette County Tuesday night.  SCORE, Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy, is an initiative aimed to give southern West Virginia much-needed opportunities to diversify the economy and strengthen communities.

Nothing was off the table as each person that chose to speak had two minutes at the podium.

Other areas of concern brought up by the community included:

  • drug abuse
  • aging population
  • disaster preparedness
  • quality child care
  • clean water

Suggestions from other speakers included:

  • renewable energy tax credits
  • selling water as a natural resource
  • funding water protection plans
  • resisting attempts to weaken environmental law
  • Ensuring the DEP is enforcing the laws


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