Energy & Environment

Drill cuttings dumped at WV landfill.
Bill Hughes

There are lots of federal regulations governing what businesses can legally dump into water, the ground, or release into the air. But the gas industry is getting around a lot of those regulations. The oil and gas industry enjoys exemptions from seven federal laws, including one that is supposed to protect human health from the hazards of waste disposal. Other states have passed their own laws regulating this waste to compensate. But it’s a looser system in West Virginia.

water meter
BrokenSphere / wikimedia commons

  West Virginia American Water is converting its meters statewide to an automated system.

The company announced the $17 million project Thursday as part of an effort to quickly locate water meters and read them accurately.

Potomac River
TimK MSI / wikimedia commons

Update: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 11:45 a.m.

Current models estimate the diluted discharge will reach Hagerstown, Maryland by October 3 and Harpers Ferry by October 10. Rain may alter the projections. The discharge is expected to continue to flow downstream and become diluted.

Washington's Top News reports the spill is not expected to impact the Washington, DC area's water supply. The full impact of the spill is still being investigated by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Andrea Booher / Wikimedia Commons

In July, the United States House of Representatives voted on House Resolution 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. It passed the House and has now moved on to the Senate. If passed into law, it would create a federal voluntary labeling standard for genetically modified foods or those with genetically modified ingredients. Labeling would also be regulated by the FDA. Here in West Virginia, there’s been some talk and show of concern from some over this bill, including a group in the Eastern Panhandle.

Potomac River
TimK MSI / wikimedia commons

Verso Corp. says the chemical that spilled into the Potomac River last week at its Maryland paper mill was a synthetic form of latex, posing no allergy threat for people sensitive to natural rubber.

Verso spokeswoman Kathi Rowzie said Monday the substance was half water and half styrene-butadiene, a paper coating. Nearly 10,000 gallons spilled into the river Wednesday from a wastewater treatment plant serving the mill in Luke.

Ohio River Cincinnati
YiFeiBot / wikimedia commons

A swim across the Ohio River from Cincinnati to northern Kentucky and back has been postponed because of toxic algae blooms found in the river.

Brewster Rhoads is swim chair and a volunteer for the sustainability organization Green Umbrella. He told The Cincinnati Enquirer it's hoped any health threat will be gone by the tentative new date of Oct. 10.

The Williams River Valley
Thomas Fletcher

An area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia known as the Birthplace of Rivers is getting some special attention this week.

The name Birthplace of Rivers refers to a wilderness area in the eastern part of the state that contains the headwaters for the Cranberry, Cherry, Gauley, Elk, Williams and Greenbrier rivers.

artwork by Beth Crowder

This week plans for a new, almost $300 million wastewater facility were shared for the first time with community members in Doddridge County. Antero Resources announced intentions earlier this summer to build the facility, which will process and recycle wastewater produced from its natural gas drilling operations in the region.

natural gas, fracking

Starett's Well Service has been acquired by Basin Energy Group.

Bridgeport-based Basin Energy says in a news release that Starett's is a specialty roustabout services firm focusing on well site and midstream natural gas infrastructure in the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions.

Patriot Coal

Ohio and Pennsylvania regulators say Patriot Coal's reorganization plan doesn't adequately address the company's obligations to clean up mine pollution.

Both states opposed the plan's approval in separate motions filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia.

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 (

Eminent domain is when a government entity takes over private property for public use. A piece of legislation is forming that would essentially allow that to happen in the northern gas fields of West Virginia. Only the government entity is allowing private industry to take over property, which is in gas form, 6,000 feet below the surface. And it won’t benefit the public directly, unless you count severance taxes.

Foo Conner / Flickr

An advocacy group formed after the January 2014 Elk River Chemical spill will launch a campaign aimed to create a publicly-owned water system in the Kanawha Valley.

In a Thursday news release, Advocates for a Safe Water System says the organization will launch the “Our Water” campaign Tuesday at the University of Charleston.  The group seeks to have a public takeover of West Virginia American Water.

Ohio River near Huntington
JaGa / wikimedia commons

West Virginia American Water initiated a contingency plan today for a temporary backup water supply in Huntington. The need for a temporary backup water supply to the treatment plant is because of increased algal bloom activity on the Ohio River. West Virginia American Water was notified late last Friday by ORSANCO that algal blooms has been detected on the Ohio River upstream from Huntington. 

Since then West American Water has followed United States EPA recommendations, which include monitoring the water quality and enhancing treatment techniques. Results so far show no impact from the algal bloom in the Huntington water system. And the system continues to meet all drinking water standards. 

WCHS-TV / via Mildred Coon

A lawsuit has been filed against CSX Corp. on behalf of dozens of  southern West Virginia residents living near the site of a fiery oil train derailment.

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.

The nonprofit news organization Climate Central is made up of journalists who report on climate science and scientists who conduct research on the subject. The group recently released a report focused on the increasing number of danger days cities across the country will experience over the next 40 years, and the state’s capital city, Charleston, topped the list. 

Magnus Manske / wikimedia Commons

Residents and businesses in Ohio County and Wheeling can resume normal water usage following the dissipation of algae in the Ohio River.

Authorities on Sunday lifted a water conservation order issued last week.

water faucet

West Virginia's water quality standards will be discussed during a public meeting this week.

Ayacop / wikimedia commons

Four additional West Virginia counties have been declared endemic for Lyme disease, bringing the total to 11.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Kanawha, Marshall, Roane and Wetzel counties were declared endemic for the tick-borne disease as of Aug. 15. They join Berkeley, Hampshire, Hancock, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan and Wood counties on the list.