Energy & Environment

Methanol Plant
Wdwdbot / wikimedia commons

Ground has been broken on a methanol plant in West Virginia.

Officials on Wednesday celebrated the start of construction on the US Methanol plant in Institute.

Gov. Jim Justice says the plant will convert natural gas to methanol for use by existing chemical plants.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is compiling water quality data on the state's streams and lakes. The agency is accepting additional information for analysis through October.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Trump has nominated a retired West Virginia mine executive to lead the nation’s top mine safety agency. David Zatazelo is the former head of Rhino Resources, a coal company that was the focus of scrutiny by regulators in 2011 over safety violations.  
The nomination comes as mine safety experts are expressing concern about a rash of fatal coal mining accidents. Becca Schimmel reports that 12 miners have died this year -- eight of them in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Coal Fatalities Rise: Miner Deaths Increase Amid Low Coal Employment

Sep 1, 2017
MSHA

  A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, pipeline protesters have been camped along the Potomac River in Maryland and West Virginia all summer long. They don’t want to see the 3.5-mile TransCanada natural gas pipeline built underneath the river. Liz McCormick reports, pipeline supporters argue the line is critical to expanding natural gas resources to businesses and homes in the growing Eastern Panhandle. 

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


All summer long, pipeline protesters have been camped along the Potomac River in Maryland and West Virginia. They don’t want to see a 3.5 mile long TransCanada natural gas pipeline built underneath the river. Supporters argue the line is critical to expanding natural gas resources to businesses and homes in the growing Eastern Panhandle. 

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the idea of building a natural gas storage hub in the region continues to gain traction. West Virginia University is set to release a report this week that explores the geologic possibilities of storing liquid natural gas products in underground reservoirs. Glynis Board attended a workshop that WVU hosted.

Storage opportunities identified through regional mapping, preliminary flied-testing assessments and rating.
Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium / West Virginia University Energy Institute

The idea of building a natural gas storage hub in the region continues to gain traction. West Virginia University is set to release a report this week that explores the geologic possibilities of storing liquid natural gas products in underground reservoirs.

Coal Mining Jobs Are Down, Fatalities Are Up – Why?

Aug 29, 2017
Adobe Stock

At a time when we ought to see fewer deaths from coal mining, the number of fatalities has increased compared to last year. The greed of coal tycoons and politicians (who are sometimes one and the same) is the reason. 

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

State regulators have cited and fined the operator of a West Virginia coal mine in the death of a shuttle car operator.

Pinnacle Mining Co. was penalized following an investigation of the miner's death, according to an eight-page document made public Monday during a state Coal Mine Health and Safety board meeting, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

McMechen, West Virginia, resident Paul Broski visited the Disaster Recovery Center to get assistance in the wake of July flooding.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As rain continues to fall throughout southeastern Texas from hurricane Harvey, Governor Jim Justice announced West Virginia is prepared to send resources to assist with emergency efforts, including members of the West Virginia National Guard. Meanwhile, disaster assistance continues in northern counties that experiences flooding in late July.

Adobe Stock

A coal miner has died in West Virginia, the sixth mining fatality in the state this year.

In a news release, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) confirmed the fatality Friday at Carter Roag Coal Co.'s Pleasant Hill Mine on the Upshur-Randolph county border near Tallmansville, south of Buckhannon.

Mountain Top Removal
Southwings and Vivian Stockman

The Perry County Public Library in Hazard, Kentucky, lies along Black Gold Boulevard — a name that nods to the wealth the coal from these hills has generated. On a recent Tuesday evening, however, the library was the venue for a hearing about the full costs of extracting that coal.

A team from the National Academy of Sciences visited to hear what the public had to say about  health impacts of surface mining.

Coal CEO Expected Trump Help, But Administration Said No

Aug 22, 2017
Donald Trump gives a speech along the Ohio River in June 2017.
AP Photo / John Minchillo

The Trump administration has rejected a coal industry push to win a rarely used emergency order protecting coal-fired power plants, a decision contrary to what one coal executive said the president personally promised him.

The Energy Department says it considered issuing the order sought by companies seeking relief for plants it says are overburdened by environmental regulations and market stresses. But the department ultimately ruled it was unnecessary, and the White House agreed, a spokeswoman said.

Courtesy Vivian Stockman and Southwings.

The Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has asked the National Academy of Sciences to suspend research into the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.

A team from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established last year for a two-year study. The committee has been conducting hearings and investigating accumulating science on the health impacts of surface mining, especially the practice known as mountaintop removal.

West Virginia Governor's Office

The country’s newest Republican governor is, like President Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, a political outsider, and a fan of the coal industry. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former coal company owner, was elected as a Democrat but switched parties with a surprise announcement at a Trump rally in West Virginia.

Both Trump and Justice campaigned on promises to bring coal mining jobs back to the region. Now Justice wants the president to prop up the flagging coal industry with federally-funded incentives for power companies to purchase coal from Appalachia.

 

Cabell County, Huntington
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

Students in at least one West Virginia county will be allowed to get out of school early to watch next week's solar eclipse.

The Herald-Dispatch reports that Cabell County Schools Superintendent Ryan Saxe said at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday that parents will be allowed to pick up students up to one hour early next Monday as an excused absence. The county's school system will operate on a regular schedule that day.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week on West Virginia Morning, we met Crystal Snyder, a single mother of two who says she wants to stay in West Virginia, and raise her children here. As a single mom, it’s on Crystal to provide for her family, which is hard to do without a job. A couple of years ago, she lost her job at a T-shirt factory. That’s where Roxy Todd picks back up with Crystal’s Struggle to Stay story today.

Marshall University
Wikipedia / en.wikipedia.org

Free solar eclipse viewing glasses and free moon pies are being offered to people participating in Marshall University's viewing event on Aug. 21.

Flood, Elkview
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A department store is reopening next month at a West Virginia shopping center that was marooned and shuttered after flooding last summer washed away an access bridge.

Tim Nunn / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A year after flooding severely damaged the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia, all 78 miles of it has reopened.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Trump administration is scrapping the Waters of the U.S. rule -- a clean-water regulation advanced by the Obama administration. The rule was meant to clarify federal authority over small streams, and its repeal raises questions about how to best protect those waterways. Amid the swirling uncertainty, an unlikely group of clean water champions has emerged in western Kentucky’s farmland.  The Ohio Valley ReSource's Nicole Erwin reports that people along the Little River have some big ideas for water conservation.

http://www.murrayenergycorp.com/

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a defamation suit against The New York Times by Murray Energy Corp. over an April editorial that described the coal mining company as "a serial violator" of federal health and safety rules.

Elk
CommonsHelper2 Bot / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia wildlife officials say 60 elk will come to the state next year through a partnership with their counterparts in Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has approved capture of five dozen elk to be transported east as part of West Virginia's ongoing elk restoration project.

Wikimedia Commons

A raft of garbage covers a swath of the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia, a dozen miles upstream from the drinking water intake for 100,000 people.

Old tires, damaged toys, algae, oil drums, sticks and other refuse have crowded against the dam for so long that weeds sprout from them. Stuck against the spillway, the trash spans a football field's length from one bank to the other and spreads almost 30 yards upstream.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a presidential commission on the opioid crisis delivered its first report last week. Among the recommendations: better sharing of data.

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.

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