Energy & Environment

A 40-year-old Federal Law Literally Changed the Appalachian Landscape

Aug 5, 2017
Kara Leigh Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Forty years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed a law that literally changed the face of Appalachia.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was intended to replace a state-to-state patchwork of rules for strip-mining with a uniform federal standard. Four decades later, however, environmentalists say the law has fallen far short of its potential.

“Massive destruction, massive explosives -- and only 300 feet away from someone’s home,” said Thom Kay, legislative associate at Appalachian Voices. “What is SMCRA doing if that’s still allowed?”

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

The Senate has approved two Republicans nominated by President Donald Trump to serve on the federal commission that oversees the nation’s power grid and natural gas pipelines.

Senators’ unanimous votes Thursday approving Senate aide Neil Chatterjee and Pennsylvania utility regulator Robert Powelson restore a voting quorum on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press file photo

Federal funds are available for economic development projects in the state. The money is meant to help communities left with mining impacts from activity before 1977.

Alexandra Kanik / Ohio Valley Resource

Communities in West Virginia will continue to see water infrastructure improvements thanks to money from the federal Environmental Protection Agency – $56.5 million worth.

Communities in Kanawha, Marshall, Fayette, Wood, Harrison and Jefferson counties can expect new or improved sewage, wastewater treatment and storm drainage systems, as well as some upgraded pump stations. The largest priced improvement - $14 million - is needed in Oak Hill to consolidate the Arbuckle Public Service District into the Oak Hill Sanitary Board system. All together, the state is looking to spend $56 million to upgrade systems in these counties.

Concrete plant, Mansfield OH
Joseph D. Harwood, Ohio National Guard / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia environmental officials have ordered a halt to construction of a concrete plant in northern West Virginia, saying agency inspectors found violations in May, June and July from storm water runoff.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

An 80-year-old maintenance and repair shop in West Virginia is closing its doors due to struggles in the coal and manufacturing industries.

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A lawsuit filed Thursday is challenging the company that wants to build a 300-mile pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia, and the federal agency that oversees it.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an environmental group’s new report shows the broad range of contaminants in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley. As Nicole Erwin reports, the research highlights the gap between what regulations require and what health advocates recommend for drinking water purity.

Also on today's show, Kara Lofton reports on new research that has found high school athletes who specialize in one sport from an early age are at a much higher risk for injury than those who play more than one sport.

Report Reveals Contaminants In 'Legal' Water

Jul 26, 2017
Nicole Erwin

An environmental group’s new report shows a broad range of contaminants occur in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley, even though the water meets federal requirements. The research highlights the gap between what regulations require and what many scientists and health advocates recommend for safe drinking water.

Rover Pipeline
Mirijana Beram

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued a cease and desist order to Rover Pipeline citing permit violations in Doddridge and Tyler counties.

The state’s regulatory agency says the company failed to properly install and maintain erosion control devices. The DEP also says the company failed to control pollutants in stormwater discharges. DEP inspectors observed and documented these violations around compressor sites and along pipelines in April, May, June and July of this year.

Eastern milksnake
Yankech gary

West Virginia wildlife authorities say an Eastern Milksnake in Kanawha County has tested positive for snake fungal disease in the first contemporary occurrence in the state.

Kevin Oxenrider, Division of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, says dramatic declines in snake populations, particularly rattlesnakes farther north, have been linked to the disease.

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photos

President Donald Trump brought Washington politics to West Virginia Monday, speaking to a crowd of about 40,000 boy scouts and volunteers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean for the 2017 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree. 

Trump is the eigth president to attend a jamboree, which occurs every four years, and the first to attend the event since it found a permanent home in West Virginia, in 2013. 

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

West Virginia environmental regulators are accepting public comment on a draft list of the state's impaired streams and lakes.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is required to update its list of impaired waters every two years. Such waterways failed to meet state water quality standards.

A draft list can be viewed on the agency's website.

The agency is accepting public comments through Aug. 21.

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

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline intended to carry natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina would have some adverse environmental effects, including impacts on water resources, forest and other habitats, but most could be reduced to insignificant levels, an assessment by federal regulators found.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Trump has said the “war on coal” is over. But in the energy marketplace the power struggle continues. Even the Ohio Valley, where coal has long been king, the switch to natural gas is under way. In the second of two stories, Glynis Board reports on the public health effects of our energy choices. 

They landed, one after another, in 2015: plans for nearly a dozen interstate pipelines to move natural gas beneath rivers, mountains and people's yards. Like spokes on a wheel, they'd spread from Appalachia to markets in every direction.

Together these new and expanded pipelines — comprising 2,500 miles of steel in all — would double the amount of gas that could flow out of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The cheap fuel will benefit consumers and manufacturers, the developers promise.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, despite the Trump administration’s support for the coal industry, the power sector is moving toward more use of natural gas. Even the Ohio Valley, where coal has long been king, the switch to gas is under way, with big implications for the region’s economy and environment. In the first of two reports, Glynis Board reports on two facilities that illustrate the power struggle.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

 

Thanks to singer-songwriter John Prine, Paradise Fossil Plant might be the only coal-fired power plant that has a household name. “Paradise,” Prine’s 1971 ballad, drew on boyhood memories from the small town of Paradise, in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to relay the environmental and social costs of our dependence on coal.

The G20 Summit ended in Hamburg with affirmation to pursue the Paris climate accord by leaders of the world's strongest economies, minus President Trump.

"The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible," reads a declaration adopted on the final day of meetings Saturday, by a group that includes Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and which some are now calling the "G19," at least when it comes to the question of climate change.

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / New River Gorge, Fayette County, Fayette Station Road

The bridge that provides the only road access to the Camp Brookside area of New River Gorge National River in West Virginia has been closed for repairs.

The National Park Service says the shutdown began Thursday and is expected to last five weeks.

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