Energy & Environment

West Virginia University

West Virginia University is teaming up once again with the University of Rome Tor Vergata for this year’s 2015 Solar Decathlon home-building competition.

The team is tasked with designing, building and operating an energy-efficient, solar-powered house. The winning entry must produce as much or more energy than it consumes, and must be attractive and environmentally friendly.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A guilty plea hearing has been rescheduled for the top executive charged in a chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia's biggest drinking water supply.

A federal judge in Charleston on Tuesday rescheduled the hearing for ex-Freedom Industries President Gary Southern to Aug. 19. It originally had been set for Aug. 17.

Southern sought to change the date, although U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston's order didn't say why.

Federal inspectors issued 139 citations and three orders at U.S. mine operations in June.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the inspections were conducted at 10 coal mines and five other mines in 11 states, including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

Four workers have been injured after a jackhammer hit an underground power line at a plant in Fayette County.

A Fayette County emergency dispatcher says the workers suffered flash burns and were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Their conditions weren't known.

The dispatcher, who declined to be identified, says the contact with the power line also caused a transformer to blow.

Century Aluminum

Century Aluminum has announced that it will permanently close its Ravenswood plant, effective immediately.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a statement after the company's Monday announcement, urging Century to reconsider its decision and continue to work with officials to find a different solution.

The plant had struggled for years, with 650 employees out of work since the plant was idled in February 2009.

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL ( / Wikimedia Commons

New statistics show that production in the Northern Panhandle natural gas fields has nearly tripled in two years.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports that West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey statistics show drillers pumped nearly three times as much natural gas in the region during 2014 compared to 2012.

A slumping coal industry has put a Coalfields Expressway project in southern West Virginia on hold.

The state planned to build a section of the four-lane highway in McDowell County through a public-private partnership with a coal company. The company would convert a mined area into roadbed.

Coalfields Expressway Authority executive director Richard Browning says discussions about the project have stopped because of a depressed coal market.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Charleston Newspapers

Dr. Donald Rasmussen, an internal medicine specialist who helped spark the 1969 Black Lung Strike, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that throughout the 1960s, Rasmussen became involved in groundbreaking research about black lung, a sometimes-fatal disease caused by inhaling coal dust.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Former Yeager Airport executive director Rick Atkinson has been named city manager of South Charleston.

Media outlets report Atkinson began his new job on Wednesday, two days after he resigned after 16 years as the airport's executive director.

Benchill / wikimedia Commons

Charleston is considering ending a rule that allows residents to use recycling bins instead of clear plastic bags the city provides.

The Charleston Gazette reports bins were allowed last year. Residents have not had to separate their recyclable items since June 2014.

Magnus Manske / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's Green Bank Telescope is one half of an international team searching for intelligent life in the universe.

The partnership was announced this week by an entrepreneur and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. The 10-year, $100 million initiative will use the Pocahontas County telescope and the Parkes Telescope in Australia — the two most powerful telescopes in the world.

Yeager Airport is monitoring a creek partially obstructed by debris from a recent hillside slip.

Airport spokesman Mike Plante says the airport opened its emergency operations Center around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

Work has begun on shoring up a runway safety embankment at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

Heavy rains had caused some slippage on the so-called overrun area in recent days. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the months-long project got under way on Monday.

Freedom Industries

The bankrupt company behind a chemical spill last year has picked another contractor to clean its contaminated site.

Freedom Industries chief restructuring officer Mark Welch said Monday the company picked CORE Environmental Services Inc. of Allison Park, Pennsylvania.


A fire has been reported at a former West Virginia high school that gained national attention with the 1999 release of the movie "October Sky."

Media outlets report that firefighters from five volunteer fire departments battled the blaze Friday morning at the Old Big Creek High School in War. The West Virginia State Police and a deputy state fire marshal also responded.

Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources says its shares will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

The Bristol, Virginia-based company says its shares were suspended by the NYSE because of their low price and the company is starting delisting proceedings. The stock last traded at 24 cents.

A study released earlier this week about the potential of the Utica Shale formation was met with praise from the Consumer Energy Alliance. But the West Virginia Sierra Club doesn’t share that enthusiasm.


The Utica Shale Play Book Study released on Tuesday says there may be 20 times as much recoverable gas and twice as much recoverable oil in the Utica Shale formation as was previously thought.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

After weeks of steady rain, a manmade hillside near the end of Yeager Airport's main runway is slipping anew.

Airport and Kanawha County officials told the Charleston Daily Mail they were monitoring the area Wednesday for further movement. They said no structures were threatened.

water faucet

A judge expects that several families will finally have clean water provided by a coal company after he ordered it eight months ago.

In a hearing Wednesday in Wyoming County Circuit Court, Judge Warren McGraw said he believes the few families without water should have it by that night.

In December 2014, McGraw approved an injunction sought by more than a dozen residents near Mechel Bluestone's Dynamic Energy Inc. mining complex. Residents said their water supplies were damaged by the mining operations.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A study released Tuesday, July 14, at a workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, shows there may be 20 times more recoverable natural gas in the Utica Shale and surrounding hydrocarbon-rich formations than previously thought.


While a 2012 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be extracted from the Utica Shale reservoir using existing technology, Tuesday’s study puts that number at 782 Tcf.