Energy & Environment

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.

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.

Pages