Energy & Environment

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A pilot-scale facility that extracts valuable rare earth elements from coal waste byproducts officially opened its doors this week at West Virginia University.

Advocates of the project are hopeful that environmental waste left by Appalachia’s coal mining legacy could one day fuel an economic boom in the region while also providing some national security.

Nancy Andrews

Seventy-five-year-old farmer Curtis Johnson doesn’t object to pipelines, but does take issue with some of their construction practices.

Johnson sold easements to the nearly completed 713-mile Rover Pipeline, which originates in the Ohio Valley and is designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Michigan and Canada.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Moring, we hear a piece from our most recent episode of Inside Appalachia. The episode features one story about why pipeline protesters began scaling trees to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

Coal has dominated Appalachia’s energy economy for more than a century. But natural gas is emerging as a new economic force, bringing with it jobs, infrastructure needs and new environmental concerns.

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear why some are worried about the risk of water contamination from major gas pipelines being built through parts of West Virginia, projects which also promise jobs in the region.


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

A natural gas pipeline explosion that occurred last month in Marshall County was likely caused by land subsidence, or movement, according to federal regulators.

In a notice of proposed safety order, issued to TransCanada Corp. this week, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said shifting land likely triggered the explosion of the Leach Xpress pipeline.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the House Judiciary Committee has begun to examine evidence in the possible impeachment of one or more West Virginia Supreme Court justices. Members heard testimony Thursday from auditors on the improper use of state vehicles and rental cars, a justice’s possession of a historic desk and a fast spend-down of a budget surplus.

Federal Prosecutor Charges Coal Company With Faking Dust Samples Amid Black Lung Surge

Jul 11, 2018
An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

The U.S. Attorney for Kentucky’s Western District unsealed eight fraud indictments Wednesday against employees of the bankrupt Armstrong Energy coal company for falsifying dust monitoring samples in two Kentucky mines.

Jim Justice
Steve Helber / AP

A lawsuit charges that two coal companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice breached a contract with an exporting company.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia native Patrice Harris has been elected as the first black woman president of the American Medical Association. Harris spoke with reporter Kara Lofton recently about her new appointment and what she hopes to accomplish in the position.

This is the first of a two-part series on water infrastructure in Appalachia, and possible solutions to problems at the federal and local level.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, energy companies in the Ohio Valley have looked to China as important customers and investors in coal and natural gas. But as Brittany Patterson explains, President Trump’s escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners could have a major effect on the region’s energy sector.

Still from White House video

President Donald Trump’s desire to help boost the Ohio Valley’s energy industry and bring back mining jobs could be stymied by the administration's escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners across the globe.

Department of Environmental Quality Firector, David Paylor walks along a retention pond for a spring near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline June 6, in Bolar, Va.
Steve Helber / Associated Press

Environmental advocates asked a federal court Tuesday to review a federal permit for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a law firm representing a coalition of environmental and citizen groups, filed a petition with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nancy Andrews

About 2,000 people gathered in Pittsburgh last month for two gas and petrochemical industry conferences. Despite those numbers, people noticed who wasn’t there: investors from China. Participants discussed the impacts of tariffs, best practices and hiring.

Adelina Lancianese / NPR

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we take a sneak peek at a new West Virginia musical written by Mountain Stage host Larry Groce. One song features a governor working hard to please constituents. Hear about it on this West Virginia Morning.

The tree sitters with their treetop perch are nearly level with the ridge top. They sit near the site where boring will be used to cross underneath the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. A notice from Mountain Valley Pipeline is taped to the tree trunk.
Nancy Andrews

Environmental advocates yesterday asked federal regulators to suspend construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

 

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday halted some construction of the natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.

The three-judge panel sided with conservation groups who challenged the pipeline’s water-crossings permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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.

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