Energy & Environment

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

The chemicals used by a West Virginia factory to make non-stick products are dangerous at levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had thought were safe, according to a federal study that had been previously blocked from publication.

Glynis Board / WVPublic

A federal lawsuit filed this week by an environmental group alleges two protected crayfish species are being harmed by coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

The suit, filed Wednesday in West Virginia by the Center for Biological Diversity, alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has missed the one-year time frame set under the Endangered Species Act in which to designate habitat areas for the two crayfish species.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hazardous chemicals left over from coal-fired power plants are leaching into groundwater across Kentucky. This new look at coal ash pollution comes from the power plants themselves -- they were recently required to make public the data from groundwater monitoring. WFPL’s Ryan Van Velzer has the second story in the series, Coal Ash, Uncovered.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, about 10 years ago, the National Park Service noticed that fewer kids and families were using the parks. And they wanted to change that. So in 2009, they partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to launch an initiative to help families unplug, get outside and connect with their local natural resources.

Kara Lofton reports that the initiative called Kids in the Park soon expanded to include pediatricians who are trying to combat childhood obesity, diabetes and excess screen time by writing “prescriptions” for kids to go outside.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West VIrginia Morning, coal has long powered the Ohio Valley. But it left behind a legacy of waste: dozens of massive coal ash disposal sites. As the Trump administration changes the regulation of coal ash, the Ohio Valley ReSource and partner station WFPL have analyzed new data from the region’s waste sites. The analysis found widespread evidence that coal ash sites are leaking contaminants into surrounding groundwater.

In the first of a three-part series, reporters Brittany Patterson and Ryan Van Velzer share what they found and what it might mean for nearby communities.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, NPR reporter and host Kelly McEvers and her colleague Chris Benderev spent more than a year exploring coal counties across Appalachia -- trying to understand our people and our history with coal.

The series, which recently aired on a podcast called Embedded, follows several people in central Appalachia, to find out how their lives changed during the first year-and-a-half of the Trump presidency. McEvers recently spoke with Roxy Todd. We'll hear part of that conversation and travel with McEvers as she goes a mile underground inside a coal mine.

Mirijana Beram

State regulators are fining the operators of the natural gas Rover Pipeline more than $430,000 for water pollution violations.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday that Rover Pipeline LLC, which is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, violated its permit and state laws on multiple occasions.

 


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.  

J. Glover/AUTiger / Wikimedia Commons

A city in West Virginia is suing the owners of a towboat that spilled oil along the West Virginia-Kentucky border earlier this year.

The Herald-Dispatch reports the boat sank in the Big Sandy River on Jan. 10. The complaint, filed this week, seeks more than $150,000 in expenses and compensation for future related costs and attorney fees.

Darkone / Wikimedia Commons

Health officials say a raccoon has tested positive for rabies in West Virginia.

According to news outlets, the Monongalia County Health Department says the raccoon was found Monday in the National area of the county. Tests confirmed the disease in the animal.

Fracking, Fluid
Baker Hughes

A West Virginia University assistant professor has received a $450,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to look at how airborne particles that result from hydraulic fracturing affect human health.

In hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas are extracted from rock by injecting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals underground.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, for decades, the Cheat River and its tributaries were known for the tell-tale bright orange discoloration of acid mine drainage. Twenty-five years later, the river is on the verge of a nearly complete restoration. Much of the success is a result of a decision among regulators, scientists and a local conservation group to treat the pollution problem as an entire watershed, instead of mine by mine. Brittany Patterson takes us to Preston County to learn more.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

On a recent sunny Wednesday, Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute, was standing on a bridge looking out at Big Sandy Creek. It was a balmy afternoon, perfect for kayaking, and the creek running the Cheat River was clear. But 25 years ago, this water was a shocking orange color -- from acid mine drainage.

Elk
CommonsHelper2 Bot / Wikimedia Commons

A group of elk transported from Arizona to West Virginia in March have been set free from their holding pen.

News outlets report the Division of Natural Resources released 46 elk on Tuesday in Logan County.

Casting a line won't cost anything in West Virginia this weekend.

The state Division of Natural Resources is holding its annual free fishing weekend for both residents and nonresidents. It's part of National Fishing and Boating Week.

It was a close encounter in 2012 that made microbiologist John Jelesko take an interest in poison ivy.

Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County

Jun 7, 2018
A crater in the earth following a natural gas pipeline explosion as seen from the air.
Photo courtesy of Martin Dofka

 

No one was injured when the TransCanada natural gas pipeline exploded today in Marshall County, touching off flames that could be seen for miles.

Adobe Stock

A 43-yr-old coal miner from Barbour County died Tuesday after sustaining injuries in a Randolph County mining accident. 

Ronald R. Taylor was a shuttle car operator at the Carter Roag Coal Company, Morgan Camp Mine in Randolph County. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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 Benny Becker reports, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ve heard a series of stories recently about a community in West Virginia, where residents are concerned about toxic waste they say is causing high rates of cancer. Many residents there say they want the Environmental Protection Agency to put their town on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List -- or NPL.

But resources for the federal program have been dwindling for decades. What does it mean when a community is placed on the NPL? Do contaminated areas get cleaned up? Brittany Patterson visited one site in north-central West Virginia to learn more.

Town of Berkeley Springs, Morgan County looking south; CNB Bank (left) and The Country Inn (right). Photo taken on June 3, 2018.
Robert Madison / Courtesy Photo

Updated on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 1:45 p.m.

Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for a handful of counties in the Eastern Panhandle this weekend due to flooding from heavy rainfall.

Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton counties are under the state of emergency

Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC

The final two protesters who had perched themselves on trees and poles to block construction of a natural gas pipeline through Appalachia have come down.

The Roanoke Times reports one protester was forcibly removed Friday and another came down voluntarily as authorities approached.

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare “immediate steps” to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump believes “keeping America’s energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security, public safety and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters.”

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Charleston Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in America. In a new documentary directed by Deborah Novak, members of the company, both seasoned and new, share the story of the ballet and its founder, Andre Van Damme.

Gillian Brooks sat down with Kim Pauley, artistic director and CEO of the Charleston Ballet, to discuss the company’s history and remember its founder.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public listening session next week in the town of Minden, which is seeking federal help due to hazardous waste contamination.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Moring, Kandi Messinger is a health educator for WVU Cabell County Extension Service. She teaches a nutrition and cooking basics class for those going through the Cabell County drug courts program. Kara Lofton spoke with Messinger about why alternative education and life skills training is an important piece of recovery.

Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On a recent drive through the Northview neighborhood of Clarksburg, James Lachapelle surveyed what is left of the factory that was once the lifeblood of this blue-collar community in north central West Virginia.

Broken windows dot the dilapidated structure, which was once the Roland glass factory. Luscious green vines and trees almost obscure the piles of tires and other refuse.

Lachapelle has lived here his entire life. His grandfather, father and brother all worked at the glass factory.

"I grew up with that factory there and never had one worry about," he said. "I mean we just grew up [thinking] 'OK, that’s just the way it was,' but as you got older and the factory collapsed, then you started worrying when are they going to clean this mess up?"

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