Energy & Environment

New Study Says Pace of Coal Plant Closures Insufficient to Stop Climate Change

Mar 22, 2018
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press

Coal plant closures are expected to outpace new construction for the first time in the modern era by 2022, but that still might not be enough to meet international emission reduction goals intended to fend off the worst anticipated impacts of climate change.

West Virginia's congressional delegation is urging President Donald Trump to approve Gov. Jim Justice's request for a federal disaster declaration for severe storms in the state in February.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Congressmen David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins wrote to Trump on Wednesday.

Brian M. Powell / Wikimedia

The nation’s largest electric grid operator said a massive coal-fired power plant near Parkersburg can close next January without affecting the region’s power system.

Eastern Panhandle Gas Pipeline, Mountaineer Gas, Protest, Pipeline
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A judge has lifted the restraining order against natural gas pipeline protesters sitting in trees in West Virginia.

News outlets report Judge Robert Irons denied the injunction, reversing course less than two weeks after granting Mountain Valley Pipeline a 10-day restraining order against the protesters.

Snowfall on March 21, 2018 in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 12:25 p.m.

It might be spring, but areas of West Virginia and Kentucky look more like winter, especially at ski resorts, with up to a foot of snow forecast in some areas.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the eastern half of West Virginia until 11 p.m. Wednesday and in areas around Louisville, Kentucky, until 2 p.m. Much of the rest of both states were under a winter storm advisory that called for up to 5 inches of snowfall.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Center for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released a study last month on the largest cluster of complicated black lung cases ever reported. Kara Lofton spoke with WVU School of Public Health physicians Carl Werntz and Anna Allen about the study and what it means for West Virginia.

Morgantown Industrial Park
Northeast Natural Energy

Dozens of chemicals that can affect the fertility of humans and animals are being found in the air near unconventional oil and gas development, according to a new study.

 

West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad (23) goes to the basket against Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger (0) and guard Matt Farrell (5) during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Buffalo
Bill Wippert / AP

For the second straight year, a major winter storm has scrambled West Virginia's travel plans for the NCAA Tournament.

About 20 hours after arriving back on campus from the West Coast, the Mountaineers left Tuesday to begin preparations for Friday's Sweet 16 appearance in Boston against old Big East foe Villanova.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Forecasters say an early spring storm could dump more than a foot of snow in parts of West Virginia.

The National Weather Service says eastern and southeastern sections of the state will be the hardest hit with up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) possible by Tuesday night. Additional amounts were possible on Wednesday.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins yells from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA Tournament college basketball regional semifinal game against Gonzaga in San Jose, Calif.
Tony Avelar / Associated Press file photo

A winter storm expected to hit the Northeast is forcing at least one college basketball team to alter its travel plans for the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

West Virginia's athletic department announced Monday night the Mountaineers will leave a day early for Boston. WVU says it will depart Morgantown on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

Tom Wrasse is at his hunting shack alone. Light pours into the small room from a window framed by antlers, harvested from the surrounding central Wisconsin woods. On the opposite wall is a collage of fading photos, showing how big the hunting parties out here used to be.

Nancy Andrews

Since late February, a small group of people have been quietly perched in two trees atop Peters Mountain in Monroe County. They are so remote, few have seen or heard directly from the protesters, but still there’s plenty of people noticing.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the West Virginia House of Delegates moved swiftly Wednesday night to pass a new 5 percent pay raise package for teachers, service personnel and state police – acting on a revised revenue forecast from Gov. Jim Justice.

That bill made its way to the Senate yesterday Thursday but was not taken up in committee. On last night’s episode of The Legislature Today, host Andrea Lannom chatted with Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso about the situation at the statehouse.

Kara Leigh Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Senate voted unanimously Thursday, Feb. 22, for a bill that would delete a section of state law governing water pollution by surface coal mining.

The bill from the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee would cut a requirement that the mining company get certification afterward that it mitigated damage to streams or more than 250 acres of watershed.

President Trump made coal jobs a core of his presidential campaign, repeatedly vowing to bring back "beautiful" coal despite the industry's decades-long decline. And in pockets of the U.S. during Trump's first year in office, it may well have felt like a turnaround was underway.

A review of data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows 1,001 more U.S. coal jobs last year compared with 2016, although energy analysts say the reasons are short term and have nothing to do with White House policies.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in the wake of school shootings in Kentucky and Florida, there has been a rash of copycat school threats throughout the Ohio Valley, leaving law enforcement and education officials grappling with how to improve security. A school counseling expert from West Virginia University says it’s useful to look at the potential school shootings that did not happen. Glynis Board reports that his work focuses on how schools have successfully averted shooting incidents.

On The Legislature Today, we take a closer look at energy legislation moving through this session. Host Andrea Lannom chats with Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee Chairman Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, as well as Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition Angie Rosser.

Dollar Photo Club

Federal prosecutors have decided not to retry a West Virginia coal boss whose case ended in mistrial on charges of campaign finance fraud.

Dave Herasimtschuk / Freshwaters Illustrated

As the natural gas industry matures in our region, construction of big transmission pipelines like the Constitution and the Rover continue make headlines. But there are also thousands of miles of smaller pipelines being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to connect drilling well pads to the energy distribution system. These lines have far less oversight and could be having big impacts on smaller streams, and the wildlife that lives there.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We’ve fielded quite a few questions from people throughout the region who want to know more about a major deal the State of West Virginia struck with China Energy, the largest energy company in China. Glynis Board recently sat down with the director of WVU’s Energy Institute to get more insight into how this deal was made and what the implications might be. 


Jean Snedegar

November last year West Virginia's Commerce Department announced a deal with China Energy the biggest Chinese coal company, to invest billions in the state’s natural gas industry. A memorandum of understanding outlines a 20 year commitment to invest 83.7 billion dollars in the states shale gas industry. The deal didn’t happen overnight. Brian Anderson, founder and director of the Energy Institute at West Virginia University offers some insight into the deal and the company behind it.

On The Legislature Today, details about an estimated $84 billion investment by a Chinese energy company have been slim since Governor Jim Justice and Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher made the announcement last fall. In this episode, we'll talk to a lead scientist at West Virginia University who describes a long-time relationship between the university and this energy company.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a salary increase for teachers, school service personnel and state troopers Tuesday. The passage of the bill comes as two of the state’s teacher unions have threatened to strike amid growing frustrations over salaries, problems with the state’s insurance provider and teacher vacancies. Dave Mistich has the story.

Edward Brown and Jerry Helton are both struggling with black lung disease.
Adelina Lancianese, photos; Alexandra Kanik, illustration.

The central Appalachian coalfields are in the middle of an unprecedented epidemic of severe black lung disease. In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association federal researchers released the results of a study conducted at just three black lung clinics. The study confirmed 416 cases of the most severe form of black lung disease, Progressive Massive Fibrosis.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the central Appalachian coalfields are in the middle of an unprecedented epidemic of severe black lung disease. A recent medical study confirmed a cluster of more than 400 cases of the most severe form of black lung at just a few clinics, and an investigation by NPR and the Ohio Valley ReSource identified nearly 2,000 cases across Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The condition, caused by coal mine dust, is often debilitating and deadly. Reporter Benny Becker brings us the stories of two men struggling with the disease.

Touchstone Research Lab

Brian Joseph from Ohio County, West Virginia, has dedicated his professional life to innovation, reimagining and retooling old materials in the region with new technologies. 

Nancy Andrews

Natural gas industry stakeholders gathered in Pittsburgh last week at the Hart Energy’s Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference. For the nearly 1,000 attendees, the talk was about natural gas industry expansion: more pipelines, more production and more exports.

Gas, natural gas, pipeline, energy, valve
Dollar Photo Club

Regulators have approved a construction stormwater discharge permit for Mountaineer Gas Co.'s proposed natural gas distribution line expansion in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle.

The Department of Environmental Protection said in a news release Wednesday the permit gives the DEP wide-ranging inspection and enforcement authority for the project.

Dollar Photo Club

The Justice Department is weighing whether to retry a West Virginia coal boss on charges of campaign finance fraud. A mistrial was declared Friday after the jury spent more than five hours deliberating the fate of 58-year-old James Lewis Laurita, of Morgantown. 

Jason Walker, one of the Cedar Creek residents who have accused Dynamic Energy of contamining their water, poses near a creek from which he draws water to flush his toliets.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In May 2016, a jury found that a coal company owned by then-candidate for governor, Jim Justice, wasn’t responsible for contaminating the water wells of several Wyoming County residents. Still, an order requiring the firm to provide temporary fresh water stayed in place, and the water kept coming -- until recently, when it abruptly stopped. 

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