Energy & Environment

Submitted Photo / W.V. Division of Forestry

Update: Friday, November 22 at 10:40 a.m.

The Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. that was struck by a forest fire nearly two weeks ago will reopen to the public on Sunday now that the fire is fully contained.

A news release says the public will be free to enter the Monongahela National Forest area where the fire was beginning Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 2013. 

 

The fire burned 1,611 acres.

The release says visitors to the area should be aware that there are still ongoing monitoring and fire patrol efforts and that while the majority of firefighters have gone home, several crews, engines, and a helicopter continue to work in the area. 

 

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 10 a.m.

The forest fire at the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County has grown to about 1,600 acres but firefighters are also finding more success in fighting  it. According to a news release the fire is 50 percent contained.

The fire started a week ago on private land adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest 11 miles southwest of Petersburg, W.Va. and three miles northeast Seneca Rocks. The cause is under investigation.

The news release says about 190 firefighters and support staff, including four crews, two modules, six engines, two bulldozers, and one helicopter are assisting with the fire.

The release says: Crews had a safe, productive day yesterday.  The south and east flanks are being mopped up and patrolled. Some minimal fire activity occurred along the crest of North Fork Mountain along the northwest section of the fire.

Plans for today call for direct attack on any remaining active fire. In areas where the fire is not actively burning, crews are strengthening the completed line. 

A cold front moving into the area in late afternoon may bring a chance of thunderstorms with gusty winds and additional rain.

 

Update: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 9 a.m.

The U.S Forest Service and West Virginia Division of Forestry report the fire in the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. is about 30 percent contained.  

The fire is burning on about 1,400 acres of national forest land and adjacent private property 11 miles southwest of Petersburg and three miles northeast of Seneca Rocks.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by relatives of three men killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster who claimed Alpha Natural Resources failed to pay them each $1.5 million as promised under a settlement with the federal government.

Trans Tech Conference comes to Morgantown

Nov 7, 2013
Ben Adducchio / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The term “TransTech” has been floating around for about five years, according to Carl Irwin, creator of the TransTech Energy Program at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy.

It refers to technologies that try to transition the nation’s energy portfolio into something that’s more economically sustainable, while at the same time, being competitive and using lower amounts of carbon. Carl Irwin says the public plays an important part in recognizing transitional technologies.

Harry Schaefer, Environmental Protection Agency / wikimedia Commons

An organization that promotes energy efficiency puts West Virginia among the top five most improved states in this year's annual scorecard.
 
     The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its rankings Wednesday.

Downstream Strategies

The Marcellus water resources and water footprint report takes a critical look at water-use data provided by natural gas drillers over the past couple years to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection—data operators are required to provide under the Horizontal Well Control Act of 2011.

A federal judge issued a memorandum Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to finalize federal coal ash regulations.

United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton issued a ruling giving the Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to name how long it will take to review and revise coal ash regulations. 

Breaking down the Consol-Murray sale

Oct 29, 2013

Consol Energy is selling five of its long wall coal mines in West Virginia to Murray Energy. It’s a deal slated to cost more than $3 billion.

In the deal, Consol will get:

$850 million in cash;

Almost $200 million in value of future payments;

The acquisition of $2.4 billion in Consol's liabilities, to Murray Energy.

In return,

Murray Energy will receive:

Almost 4,000 new employees;

6 more coal preparation plants;

5 more active mining complexes;

6 more longwall mining systems;

23 more continuing mining units;

West Virginia's two U.S. senators say they'll be watching closely to see how Ohio-based Murray Energy treats safety and the workforce of the five CONSOL Energy mines it's buying.
 
     Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have requested a meeting with Murray Energy to discuss the transition.
 
     The companies announced the deal Monday for the sale of the Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge, McElroy, Robinson Run and Shoemaker mines.
 
     Pennsylvania-based CONSOL said it wants to shift resources to natural gas development.
 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

CONSOL Energy sells five longwall mines to Murray Energy, the families of Upper Big Branch Mine victims speak out against a Halloween attraction at King's Dominion, and the first in a series of Halloween stories on the Whipple Company Store.

Joe Long / AP

Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall, today announced more than $697,000 in federal funding for pipeline safety efforts in West Virginia.  
 

CONSOL Energy Inc. is selling all five of its longwall coal mines in West Virginia to Ohio-based Murray Energy for $3.5 billion.
 
     Pennsylvania-based CONSOL said Monday the deal for its Consolidation Coal Co. subsidiary is good for long-term growth.
 
     CONSOL is selling McElroy Mine, Shoemaker Mine, Robinson Run Mine, Loveridge Mine and Blacksville No. 2 Mine, plus river and dock operations. The mines produced a combined 28.5 million tons last year.
 

Environmental groups are reacting to a ruling from a federal judge which says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no legal right to force a West Virginia chicken farmer to obtain pollution permits for runoff from her Hardy County farm.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the runoff entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed from Lois Alt's poultry farm is stormwater and therefore not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new Kentucky café caters to Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

Arts and Culture provide economic development in one Kentucky county.

A new book profiles one of West Virginia’s most picturesque river valleys.

And ink lovers turn out for the first WV tattoo expo.

NOVA host coming to WV

Oct 15, 2013
David Pogue, Host of Nova scienceNow
PBS

Next week in Morgantown, a special symposium on energy will be bringing one of the nation’s most prominent faces in the field.

  David Pogue is a columnist for the New York Times, who also works as the host of the PBS program Nova Science Now.

Pogue is the keynote speaker for the Science, Technology and Research Symposium, or STAR symposium, coming up next week in Morgantown. Pogue says science is a field where there’s a lot of demand—a number of job opportunities are available—but not much supply—meaning, there just aren’t enough people to fill those jobs.

Little Blue Run Coal Ash Impoundment
Wiki

More than 50 West Virginia and Pennsylvania property owners are suing FirstEnergy over groundwater pollution, soggy yards, and foundation damage they say was caused by a leaking coal ash impoundment.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wheeling accuses the Ohio-based power company of negligence, reckless conduct, trespassing and creating a nuisance.

It says arsenic and other substances have leached out of the unlined, 1,700-acre Little Blue Run impoundment into groundwater, and the air has been fouled by the noxious odors of hydrogen sulfide gas.

Rachel Lippman / St. Louis Public Radio

The United Mine Workers of America has reached a settlement with Peabody Energy and Patriot Coal that will help to cover health care benefits for retired miners.

Background:

Solar Decathlon competition heating up in California

Oct 9, 2013
West Virginia University

West Virginia University's Solar Decathlon Team is in Irvine, competing with its rustic, log cabin home.

Team members say they are enjoying the experience, yet at the same time, feeling the pressure from competing.

Department of Energy officials say the home is bringing a refreshing new vision to the competition, too.

Cecelia Mason

The West Virginia chapter of The Nature Conservancy is celebrating a half century in existence by looking back at its accomplishments, planning its future and honoring 50 people or organizations that have helped it along the way.

The West Virginia chapter was chartered in 1963. The Nature Conservancy web site says the idea started three years earlier when a group at West Virginia University wanted to buy the Cranesville Swamp Preserve near Morgantown, W.Va.

West Virginia Citizen Action Group says it will appeal the approval of a $1.1 billion deal for the sale of the Harrison Power Station.

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