Energy & Environment

Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal.

Butt points out a new engine assembly line, where a conveyor belt moves in a slow circle. He says it was specially designed with a more efficient motor. There are also enormous fans overhead and LED lights, all changes that save millions.

rattlesnake
TimVickers / Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife officials are asking West Virginians to let them know when they see timber rattlesnakes as part of a scientific project to determine their current distribution in the state.

According to the Division of Natural Resources, rattlesnakes are a critical part of healthy forest ecosystems and hunt mice and chipmunks, helping reduce the human risk of contracting Lyme disease and other diseases spread by the small mammals.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

With Australia coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and China turning back imports of coal from North Korea this week as apparent punishment for missile tests, U.S. coal exports could take up some slack. But analysts aren’t predicting a coal comeback.


Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Despite what the calendar says, winter isn't over just yet in West Virginia.

The National Weather Service says up to 6 inches of snow is possible starting Thursday night in parts of the state's eastern and northern mountains as well as the Greenbrier Valley.

House Committee on Natural Resources

Professionals and experts from Kentucky, West Virginia and Montana testified in Washington, D.C., today about a bill designed to diversify economies in coal regions.


Black Lung Update: Federal Researchers Seek Allies in Appalachia

Apr 5, 2017
Researchers present findings on the return of black lung disease.
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

Federal health researchers are visiting health clinics and medical schools in the Appalachian coalfields to recruit allies in the fight a resurgence of black lung disease. The worst form of the disease may affect as much as 5 percent of experienced working miners in the region, and the researchers fear that rate could be even higher among retired miners.

Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC

West Virginia environmental authorities have issued a water quality certification for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas down the center of West Virginia for 195 miles.

The certification required by the Federal Clean Water Act concerns impact on West Virginia waters.

The Department of Environmental Protection says project impacts will require the builder to purchase credits to be used to improve streams and wetlands around the state.

White House video

Coal country’s economic woes took center stage at the Environmental Protection Agency as  President Donald Trump signed an executive order to undo parts of President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.


Fire, Forest FIre
Fæ / Wikimedia Commons

A New River Gorge National River official says a prescribed fire is planned for Friday.

The burn is to occur in an oak woodland area in the Grandview area of the park.

David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

West Virginia environmental officials say coal slurry leaked into Crooked Run near Peytona in Boone County, south of Charleston. 

 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says a leaking water treatment tank in eastern Kanawha County isn't believed to have affected drinking water and no fish kill was observed.

The agency says the initial investigation indicates the leak reported Monday was caused by two small-caliber bullet holes in the tank, believed to have occurred after Thursday evening.

WVDOT

The West Virginia Department of Highways Power company and FirstEnergy Corp. are preparing for the winter storm expected to hit West Virginia and the Northeast tonight and tomorrow.

The National Weather Service is expecting up to 20 inches of snowfall in the mountainous regions of the eastern part of the state.  Up to a foot of snow is possible in parts of northern West Virginia starting Monday night.

State of West Virginia

Warnings have been posted in much of West Virginia for up to a foot of snow from a late-season storm.

The National Weather Service says snow is expected to start Monday night and last in some places through early Wednesday. Power outages are possible due to the weight of the snow on tree limbs and power lines.

Chuck Kleine / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the year 2017, recycling programs exist in several communities in West Virginia, but these programs have not significantly changed the state’s habit of burying trash in the hills. West Virginians are sending about the same amount of trash to the state’s 18 landfills as they have for decades.  

In 1989, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill that’s goal was to reduce residential waste going to landfills by 50 percent by 2010. The bill was necessary to meet federal requirements. According to data collected by the state over the years - West Virginia hasn’t yet made any progress toward that goal.

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

West Virginia residents were divided during the final state public hearing on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas down the center of West Virginia for 195 miles.

Several urged state permit approvals for the project and its jobs. Some others at the Thursday hearing warned of damage from construction, erosion and the aerial herbicide spraying along the right of way that would continue perpetually.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Three advocacy groups in Virginia want federal regulators to rescind or revise an environmental assessment of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline because they say it lacks meaningful analysis.

Huntington Solar Co-Op Hoping to Gain Energy

Mar 8, 2017
Solar Panels, Cheryl and Corky Brown
WV Sun

A group of people in and around Huntington are joining together to try to make solar power a reality for their homes.

It’s a solar co-op. A group of residents from the Huntington community and the surrounding areas are using the power of a group to purchase solar panels. It’s not the first solar co-op in the state. Previous co-ops have been formed in Morgantown, Wheeling and Charleston. And solar co-ops are coming together in Beckley, Lewisburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley region of the state.

Power Lines
Kreuzschnabel / wikimedia commons

A utility sent helicopters to survey damage from severe thunderstorms that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses in West Virginia without power. In some hard-hit areas, residents were told it would be days before their power was restored.

Appalachian Power said on its website that more than 55,000 customers were without electricity late Thursday morning in southern West Virginia. That included nearly 11,000 in Fayette County and 9,000 in Kanawha County.

More than 90,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia remain without power a day after severe thunderstorms rolled through the state.

Appalachian Power says on its website that more than 76,000 customers were without electricity Thursday in southern West Virginia. That includes 16,000 in Fayette County and nearly 9,000 in Logan County.

Courtesy: Violet Gathalee Pavkovich

Violet Gathalee Pavkovich stands on the small back porch of her powder blue, turn-of-the-century farmhouse, an orange cat meandering around her legs. White wicker furniture contrasts the rusty railroad tracks that border her back yard.

“Trains hauling coal come through here two or three times a day,” she remarked casually. As I thank her for her time, she asks if she can give me a hug.

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