Energy & Environment

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. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, 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. Molly Born has the story.

Peabody Energy, Inc.
Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.

Updated on Feb. 6 at 3:49 p.m. ET

Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they've identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

When you picture the Appalachian Coalfields, you might think of those scenic photographs of mist rising from the mountains. But there are the less picturesque landscapes too -- views of mountaintops that have been stripped away from coal mining. Imagine if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we begin a new series of stories called Appalachian Innovators. When you think of Appalachian coalfields, images of stripped mountaintops might spring to mind. But what if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender? Some people in West Virginia think lavender could give the state’s struggling economy a boost. Roxy Todd has the story.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, during the course of the past week, teacher rallies have sprung up around the state, as the West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation for Teachers continue discussions with members about possible strikes or walkouts.

wikimedia commons/Magnolia677

Attorneys for 16 Wyoming County families who accused a coal company of contaminating their water asked the state’s highest court Wednesday, Jan. 24, for another chance to prove their case.

Chuck Hampe working on his 64,872nd table base -- his last -- before he retired from Gat Creek after 31 years.
Jean Snedegar

On the campaign trail and in his first State of the State address in February 2017, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talked about boosting furniture manufacturing in West Virginia. 

One of the most successful furniture manufacturers in the state is in Berkeley Springs.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear about organic chicken eggs, a major pipeline project in Pennsylvania, and we take a tour of one of the most successful furniture manufacturers in West Virginia.

Spotted Lanternfly, Lanternfly, Lantern Fly, Fly, Lantern
Sam Droege / USGS

West Virginia's Department of Agriculture has established an email where the state's residents can send pictures and descriptions of a suspected invasive pest, as well as their locations and any related damage to buildings or plants.

streams
Alokrohith / wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says 21 organizations around the state are receiving grants to help protect the quality of the state's rivers and streams.

Greenland Gap
Nature Conservancy / WV Humanities Council

The West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund says it's accepting grant applications for land-protection projects with up to $1.2 million that may be awarded.

Still from White House video

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an August rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley ReSource series, “One Year, Under Trump,” looks at what the president has done on some of the region’s key issues.

As Becca Schimmel reports, despite the coal heavy rhetoric, the area’s industry has seen only minor change in employment.

Jessica Lilly

This week on Inside Appalachia, we discuss one part of coal's legacy: as mining companies have closed, the water companies they built and helped maintain have largely been neglected. Today, residents are struggling with crumbling water infrastructure that hasn’t been updated for, sometimes, 100 years. 

Electric car, Electric, Electric vehicle, Electric charging station
Pixabay

Marshall University is set to unveil an electric car charging station.

Rain
Jerzy Gorecki / Pixabay

Forecasters have issued a flood watch in much of West Virginia as a storm approaches.

The National Weather Service says the flood watch is in effect through Friday morning for about half of West Virginia's counties.

Confluence of Ohio and Big Sandy River, South Point, Ohio; Kenova, West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky
Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons

Updated Friday, January 12 at 11:49 a.m.

Officials say a sunken tow boat is leaking oil in the Big Sandy River on the West Virginia-Kentucky border and crews are trying to contain the spill.

Benchill / wikimedia Commons

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has awarded nearly two dozen recycling grants to groups in 20 counties.

The DEP said in a news release that funding for the recycling assistance grant program is generated through a $1 assessment fee per ton of solid waste disposed at in-state landfills.

Frost on leaf, frost
Pixabay.com

Record-low temperatures have been set in parts of West Virginia as a blast of Arctic air swept through the state.

The National Weather Service says the thermometer dipped to 14-below zero Sunday morning in Elkins. That broke the previous record of 12 below set in 1988.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We end our weeklong look at our best stories from 2017, where we stepped into the archives to retell some of our favorite stories from last year.

This morning, we hear from reporters Kara Lofton and Glynis Board.

David Smith / AP Photo

Plans for an underground natural gas liquids storage hub pegged as a major job creator for the chemical industry in struggling Appalachia have cleared their first big hurdle.

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