Pollution

Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

In today’s culturally polarized society, discussing whether the planet is warming and if humans have an impact on the climate is a topic that’s often avoided. Why? Because speaking about it can be akin to touching the “third rail” of religion and politics.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House voted on a bill Wednesday that aligns West Virginia's standards for some discharges into the state’s waters with federal limits. Opponents say the bill could put West Virginia’s drinking water supply at risk, but supporters maintain it has the potential to attract new industry to the state.

Shannon Tompkins / Flickr

In many ways, the Ohio River is an unsung resource for the region it serves. The Ohio’s near-thousand-mile course flows through Pennsylvania and five other states before emptying into the Mississippi. It’s a source of drinking water for more than five million people. But its long legacy as a “working river” has also made it the most polluted in the country. Today, many cities and towns along the Ohio are rethinking their relationship to the river—and weighing how a large-scale restoration effort could be critical to the region’s future. But just how do we get there?

Google Earth

Closed in January 2016, the Shenango Coke Works on Neville Island is a quiet place these days. A group of local activists would like to keep it that way: They’d like to see the site turned into a solar farm.  A pipe dream? Maybe not. The utility that owns it actually has a robust recent history of investing in renewables. 

Last year when Leah Andrascik heard the Shenango Coke Works was closing, she thought it was a joke. Then, when she realized the news sent in an email by a fellow activist was true, she was relieved.

Jim Justice
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

A federal judge has approved a settlement requiring pollution reductions and a $900,000 civil penalty by Appalachian coal mines owned by West Virginia Governor-elect Jim Justice.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice announced the settlement in September with Southern Coal Corp. and 26 affiliates.

Kara Lofton

Industry has left a dirty legacy along the Ohio River. We’re talking about toxins like PCBs, dioxins and mercury—discharged into the water by steel mills and the petroleum industry for decades. This week, we caught up with Judy Petersen, executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, to tell us more about how legacy pollution—and new pollution—impacts more of our lives than we might think.

Jason Meredith / Flickr

Chances are, one of the first things you do in the morning is turn on the faucet. For more than three million people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia, that means getting tap water that comes from the Ohio River. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio is also one of the most polluted rivers in the country. 

Cows
Allegheny Front

Some water quality advocates think getting big industrial polluters to pay for farm runoff prevention projects is an innovative way to control water pollution. But critics of the Ohio River’s pollution credit trading system say it’s just another pay-to-pollute scheme.

Tracking the Health Impacts of C8 Exposure

Oct 28, 2016
Jeff Gentner / AP

Residents throughout the Ohio River Valley from West Virginia to Kentucky have been quietly living with the toxic legacy of a chemical known as C8. Manufactured by DuPont, C8 was an important component of consumer products like non-stick Teflon cookware. But researchers now know that C8 exposure is linked to all kinds of health problems, including cancer.

Religious Freedom Protection Act Dies in Senate

Mar 3, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Rob Engle brings us the story of House Bill 4012 getting voted down in the Senate as well as a Senate-approved brunch bill that would allow restaurants, wineries and distilleries to begin selling alcohol on 10 in the morning. Ashton Marra has a story on the budget gap, Liz McCormick looks into potential changes in how the severance tax is handled at the county level, and the Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier looks into the economic effects of pollution.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A now-bankrupt chemical company has pleaded guilty to three pollution charges related to last year's spill that contaminated a West Virginia river.

Mark Welch, chief restructuring officer of Freedom Industries, entered the plea on behalf of the company Monday in federal court in Charleston.

Freedom faces a maximum $900,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled June 29.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two former employees at Freedom Industries have pleaded guilty to a pollution charge in last year's chemical spill into a river in West Virginia.

Ex-plant manager Michael Burdette and environmental consultant Robert Reynolds entered the pleas to negligent discharge of a pollutant Wednesday during separate hearings in federal court in Charleston. They each face up to a year in prison when they are sentenced June 24.

The January 2014 spill of a coal-cleaning agent into the Elk River contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

State regulators have fined the city of Logan more than $81,000 for wastewater violations.

Trans Energy, Inc.
Trans Energy, Inc.

Oil and gas company Trans Energy Inc. faces federal criminal charges for releasing natural gas drilling materials into streams.

An information filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling alleges the St. Marys-based company lacked permits to dump into streams. The charges are misdemeanors.

  A federal judge has ruled that two Alpha Natural Resources mountaintop removal mines in southern West Virginia illegally polluted streams.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington ruled Wednesday that the Elk Run Coal and Alex Energy mines harmed aquatic life in Laurel Creek and Robinson Fork.

Chambers wrote it's a "canary in the coal mine" that aquatic life diminished, as only pollution-tolerant species survived. Penalties are undetermined.

Harry Schaefer, Environmental Protection Agency / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal of Monsanto Co.'s massive settlement with thousands of West Virginia residents.

In an order Monday, justices said they would not review the $93 million settlement reached in the lawsuit. The Charleston Gazette said that means thousands of Nitro-area residents are closer to receiving medical monitoring and having their property cleaned up.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

Eight Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to require nine upwind states to cut down air pollution emissions.

The petition is aimed at West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. It seeks a reduction in emissions carried by prevailing winds that contribute to the formation of ozone in the downwind states.

States filing the petition Monday are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.