Energy & Environment

Ski Resorts
2:21 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Ski Resorts Embracing Snow Storms

Credit Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's residents are tired of winter. The state's ski resorts are not.

The four major ski resorts — Canaan Valley, Snowshoe Mountain, Timberline and Winterplace — picked up a half-foot or more of snow on Thursday.

West Virginia Ski Areas Association spokesman Joe Stevens says it's a boost to late-season skiing in what's already been a strong year.

Stevens says the timing of the storm was good for the industry. Highway crews will be able to plow interstates and other roads leading to the resorts before skiers arrive for the weekend.

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Closings
12:53 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Schools, Businesses and Agencies Close for Storms

Credit Submitted Photo / WVDOT

Students are getting another break from classes across West Virginia as a late-winter storm pummels the state.

Public schools in all 55 counties were closed Thursday. At least 18 counties had sent students home early on Wednesday after heavy rains sent creeks onto roads.

Several higher education institutions also canceled classes, including West Virginia University, Marshall University, Fairmont State University and Bluefield State College.

But WVU went ahead with student elections. Voting was held Thursday as scheduled in the Mountainlair in Morgantown.

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Outages
12:49 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Storms Knockout Power Throughout State

Credit Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A late-winter storm has knocked out electricity to about 80,000 customers in West Virginia.

FirstEnergy reported about 41,000 customers without power at midday Thursday. Appalachian Power has about 39,000 outages. Both utilities say many roads remain impassible and are hampering power-restoration efforts. They are bringing in crews from out-of-state affiliates.

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Flooding
11:32 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Much of State Deals with Flood Warnings

Credit National Weather Service, Charleston

  Flood warnings have been issued as heavy rains move through West Virginia before giving way to significant snowfall.

Schools in at least 15 counties sent students home early due to high water and other storm-related issues Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says an ice jam caused stream flooding near Moundsville. A flooded creek poured over a bridge in Morgantown and swollen streams inundated roads in several other communities.

State transportation officials say a rock slide closed one lane of southbound Interstate 77 near the Jackson-Wood county line.

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Poverty
8:32 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

W.Va. Woman Joins Fight Against Extreme Poverty in Africa

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) meets Monday, March 2 with Maegan Ramirez, Jasmine Flores and other advocates from the ONE Campaign, an organization founded by Bono, to discuss protecting life-saving accounts in the budget and The Electrify Africa Act. O'Rourke looks through a 1950s-style View-Master, which contains a series of memes on the importance of these programs.
Credit Ron Sachs

A Morgantown woman is representing West Virginia in an international effort to fight extreme poverty in Africa. Jamie Williams was inspired by her faith and her previous volunteer work to take up the cause. 

Williams is a West Virginia University alumna. She made her first lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., in February for the ONE Campaign Summit. Co-founded by U2’s Bono, the ONE Campaign is an international group working to end extreme poverty and disease. Williams was in D.C. to urge members of Congress to take up the Electrify Africa Act.

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Oil & Gas
4:41 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

USGS Needs More Data to Assess Water Impacts Around Gas Development

Credit U.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey says more data and research are necessary to best understand the potential risks to water quality in areas with unconventional oil and gas development.

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Energy & Environment
1:40 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Company Proposes Building Two Gas-Fired Power Plants in W.Va.

The Moss Landing Power Plant in California. According to the Energry Information Administration, West Virginia does not currently have any natural gas-fired power plants in operation.
Credit David Monniaux / wikimedia Commons

A company plans to spend about $1 billion to build two natural gas-fired power plants in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.

The State Journal reports that the Brooke County Commission approved a memorandum of understanding for the project on Tuesday.

Energy Solutions Consortium LLC plans to build a 750-megawatt plant and a 550-megawatt plant on the former Wheeling Corrugating property in Beech Bottom. The property will be purchased from the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle.

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News
12:23 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Justice Says Coal Operations Buyback Includes Liabilities

Credit Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Billionaire Jim Justice says his buyback of coal mining operations in West Virginia includes some big liabilities.

Justice completed the $5 million acquisition of Bluestone Inc. from Russian mining and metals company Mechel OAO last month. He had sold Bluestone's mining operations to Mechel in 2009 for $436 million in cash and more than $83 million in preferred shares.

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Legislature
9:54 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

Senate Approves Bill to Scale Back Storage Tank Law

The final vote on Senate Bill 423.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved 30-1 a bill that will scale back the state’s above ground storage tank law approved in 2014. The law came as a reaction to the Freedom Industries’ chemical spill into the Kanawha River that left 300,000 West Virginians without usable water for as many as ten days.

Senate Bill 423 separates tanks into two levels, with level one tanks receiving the highest level of scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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water
3:54 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

From Springs to Spills: How Does West Virginia's Water Taste to International Judges?

Bottled water display
Credit photo by Cecelia Mason

Appalachia is no stranger to industrial or environmental disasters that affect our water. Because of crumbling water infrastructure in many coalfield communities, folks often turn to bottled water for regular use.

But not all bottled water is equal. At least that’s according to judges at the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting & Competition, which took place February 19-22. The competition judges the taste of bottled water, purified water, and municipal city waters from across the world were judged.

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Government
5:14 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Sen. Manchin on Crude-By-Rail Safety: 'I Want to See Progress'


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he’ll speak with other members of Senate Commerce Committee about crude-by-rail safety following last week’s train derailment in Fayette County.

During a conference call with reporters Monday, Manchin said he has “no qualms” about asking the Senate to conduct a full investigation into the incident once he's spoken to other senators with information on the issue.

Manchin cited a U.S. Department of Transportation study that predicts up to 10 Bakken crude derailments each year given the increase in shipments. He noted nearly 11,000 carloads were shipped in the country in 2009 and increased to nearly 100,000 in just the first quarter of 2013. He said those figures are cause for an increase in concern regarding crude-by-rail safety.

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Crude-By-Rail
12:27 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Va. Fines CSX $361,000 for April 2014 Lynchburg Derailment

Firefighters and rescue personnel work along the tracks where several CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire along the James River in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

  Virginia environmental officials are proposing a $361,000 fine against CSX Transportation for an April 2014 train derailment that dumped nearly 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil into the James River in Lynchburg.

The state Department of Environmental Quality announced the proposed consent order with the rail company on Monday. The April 30 derailment saw 17 cars derail, with three going into the river and one catching fire.

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Oil & Gas
9:57 am
Mon February 23, 2015

New York Report Analyzes Industry Science Behind Fracking

Credit Adam Zyglis / The Buffalo News

  A new report released in the wake of New York State's decision to ban the horizontal gas drilling process known as fracking analyzes more than 100 scientific studies that have been approved and distributed by oil and gas industry representatives.


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Train Derailment
10:16 am
Fri February 20, 2015

One Lane Reopens of Route 61 Near Train Derailment

Credit U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier

Authorities have partially reopened a stretch of road where an oil train derailed in southern West Virginia.

One lane of state Route 61 reopened Friday in Montgomery. It was blocked off after Monday's fiery crash in the nearby town of Mount Carbon.

About 225 people had been forced out from 100 homes along the road. It wasn't known whether the residents were being allowed back in their homes for good. A spokesman for multiple agencies responding to the crash didn't immediately return a telephone message Friday.

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Train Derailment
1:18 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

What We Know Three Days After the Fayette Co. Oil Train Derailment

Credit U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier

Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are on the scene of Monday's oil train derailment near Mount Carbon, W.Va. The incident sparked massive fireballs stretching hundreds of feet in the air. One home was destroyed in the incident and the homeowner was treated for smoke inhalation and then released. 

1. Some initial reports from the scene turned out to be incorrect.

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Q&A
5:30 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Former NTSB Official: ‘Everybody’s Got To Do Better’ With Crude-By-Rail Transport

Peter Goelz, Senior Vice President at O’Neill and Associates, is also a former Managing Director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

After Monday's CSX train derailment in Fayette County, attention has turned to a national discussion regarding the safety of crude-by-rail transportation.

Peter Goelz is a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. His responsibilities at the NTSB included leading the day-to-day operations of the agency and serving as chief policy advisor to the chairman. He is now senior vice president of O'Nell and Associates, a firm offering government relations and communications services related to a variety of industries, including transportation.

You can stream audio of an interview with Goelz  or read highlights below:

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Danny Webb Construction
3:50 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

DEP Postpones Public Hearing Concerning Lochgelly Waste Site, Again

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is rescheduling a public hearing on two permit renewal applications for the second time. The public hearing is around applications for an underground injection control (UIC) facility near Lochgelly in Fayette County. 

In an email, the DEP said the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 19 in Oak Hill has been postponed a  due to inclement weather conditions.

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Train Derailment
11:51 am
Wed February 18, 2015

West Virginia Oil Train 1 of 3 that Recently Derailed with Tank Cars Meeting Safer Standards

Credit Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

  The fiery derailment of a train carrying crude oil in West Virginia is one of three in the past year involving tank cars that already meet a higher safety standard than what federal law requires — leading some to suggest even tougher requirements that industry representatives say would be costly.

Hundreds of families were evacuated and nearby water treatment plants were temporarily shut down after cars derailed from a train carrying 3 million gallons of North Dakota crude Monday, shooting fireballs into the sky, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning down a house nearby. It was snowing at the time, but it is not yet clear if weather was a factor.

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Around the Nation
6:56 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Fiery W.Va. Derailment Prompts More Concern About Transporting Oil

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:08 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Fayette Train Derailment
12:48 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

WVU Tech Cancels Classes For Remainder of Week due to Train Derailment

Credit West Virginia University

WVU Tech has canceled classes for the rest of the week  of Monday, February 17, and campus residents will be provided off-site accommodations.

The cancelation is due to a water intake closure following a train derailment along the Fayette-Kanawha county line which spilled crude oil into the Kanawha River,

Here is the full release:

WVU Tech Cancels Classes following Off-Campus Incident

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