Mountaintop Removal

Google Maps

The recent downturn in coal mining has slowed its spread, but mountaintop removal mining has already reached across the coalfields over the past 30 years.

Using a Google app called Timelapse, you can observe the changes in the central Appalachian coalfields, especially southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the National Academy of Sciences is beginning a comprehensive study to see if mountain top removal coal mining affects the health of residents who live near them. 

The story on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Wikimedia Commons / Andrew Springer

West Virginia environmental regulators are ordering a company to stop mining permanently at a surface coal mine near Kanawha State Forest.

Keystone Industries LLC signed the consent order with the Department of Environmental Protection last month to permanently halt Kanawha County mining operations near Marmet.

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

A $6 million settlement has been reached in federal court that will restore damage from West Virginia mountaintop removal mines.

The Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy announced the settlement with the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund. A consent decree was entered Friday in U.S. District Court in Huntington.

Mountain Top, Mountaintop, mining
Bob Bird / AP Photo

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced  it will fund a million dollar review of current research on  links between surface coal mining and human health risks. The announcement came more than a year after the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection formally requested the review.

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia just published a pastoral letter. It’s the third of its kind. Forty years ago the first was written and acclaimed as “one of the most significant statements to emerge from the U.S. Catholic Church,” according to the West Virginia Encyclopedia.

mountaintop removal
wikimedia

Coal production from mines using mountaintop removal has decreased 62% from 2008 to 2014.  That figure was released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Agency.  Taylor Kuykendall, coal reporter for SNL Energy, an on line news service, says the coal industry is facing a perfect storm.  Low demand, federal regulations, competition from natural gas and pressure from campaigns against the mining practice from environmental groups have all taken their toll.  We spoke with Taylor Kuykendall about the news.


Associated Press

Federal officials plan to recommend the National Academy of Sciences review a series of studies that have found residents living near mountaintop removal mining operations face increased risks of serious illnesses and premature death.

WCHS TV

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protect has closed down a mountaintop removal mine site located near a state forest in Kanawha County and is now blocking the mine operators from receiving new permits anywhere in the country. 

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

On West Virginia Morning, as a part of our occasional series "Effective from Passage,"reaction from the Eastern Panhandle about a new bill that may affect net metering standards in West Virginia. Those standards dictate how solar producers, including homeowners with solar panels, receive credit for the energy they produce.

Professor Michael McCawley of West Virginia University discusses his recent research about the health dangers of dust exposure for West Virginians that live near mountaintop removal or surface mine sites.

Wikimedia Commons

  When we hear about the danger of dust exposure, we are usually talking about coal dust underground, or silica dust. But that’s not the only dust that can make people sick. Apparently almost any dust can, if it’s fine enough.


NASA

Satellite images from NASA and other government agencies can tell us a lot about the changing of the climate as well as the environment. Their photo series State of Flux: Images of Change depicts noticeable differences in our world over various spans of time--looking at everything from water, air, natural disasters, as well as the impact of industry.

In Kentucky, A Prairie Made by Coal

Mar 27, 2015
Reid R. Frazier

Patrick Angel pulls his pickup truck off a small road in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, and points to a long ridge covered with dried, brown grass.

“If you didn’t know where you were, you'd think you were standing in a prairie land in South Dakota or Wyoming, because it’s all grass,” says Angel, a forester with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).

Senate President Bill Cole joins us to talk about legislative priorities after the Republican takeover following November's midterm election. 

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor pulled a bill from the committee's agenda Tuesday, Senate Bill 245, a bill that aims to repeal the state's prevailing wage requirement.   

Also, members of the House Agriculture committee handle a bill that looks to use old mountaintop removal sites for hog farming.

Alpha Natural Resources

Alpha Natural Resources has reached a settlement with environmental groups over stream pollution from two affiliated mountaintop removal mining complexes.

The proposal filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Huntington requires judicial approval.

The settlement addressing high conductivity discharges gives Alpha until August 2019 to meet water cleanup marks.

In June, a judge ruled Elk Run Coal and Alex Energy mines harmed aquatic life in a Boone County creek and Robinson Fork in Nicholas County.

Remembering Jimmy Weekley, Frog Watching in Va.

Aug 29, 2014

In Pennsylvania, there’s all sorts of noises associated with natural gas drilling.  One company is trying to be sensitive.

In West Virginia, we remember Jimmy Weekley – the last man on the mountain.

And in Virginia, an executive chef is looking for frogs, not for their legs, but for their distinctive sound.

Submitted Photo / U.S. Geological Survey

Mountaintop removal mining does have an effect on fish populations downstream from the mining operations, according to a study just released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study title is a mouthful: Temporal changes in taxonomic and functional diversity of fish assemblages downstream from mountaintop mining, which is the fancy way of saying USGS scientists looked at how well fish populations are doing in streams down river from mountaintop mining sites.