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Black Lung Benefits Fund in Deepening Debt as Epidemic Surges

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A new study from the Government Accountability Office finds that the federal fund supporting coal miners with black lung disease could be in financial trouble without congressional action. As NPR has reported, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging. Most federal benefits… Read More

Lung Transplants Rise Amid Region’s Black Lung Epidemic

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The Appalachian coalfields are in the midst of an epidemic of severe black lung disease. The debilitating and even deadly disease has recently begun to affect miners as young as 30. Dust from coal mines has scarred these miners’ lungs, so little of the air they breathe gets absorbed. In central Appalachia, researchers say, one… Read More

Eastern Kentucky Prison Moves Forward As Opponents Consider Challenge

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The Bureau of Prisons has issued a record of decision signaling that it is moving ahead with plans to build a federal prison on the site of a former strip mine in the hills of Letcher County, Kentucky. But local opponents of the prison say they’re not giving up and are considering a legal challenge to prevent… Read More

Amid Black Lung Surge, Kentucky Changes Benefits Process For Miners

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William McCool is a 64-year-old former coal miner from Letcher County, Kentucky, with an advanced form of black lung disease. Health experts say the condition is entirely preventable with dust control measures in mines. But today, more miners in Appalachia are being diagnosed with severe black lung than ever before. “I’ve worked all my life,… Read More

Help On Tap For Troubled Water System In Coal Country

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A water system in eastern Kentucky that was on the verge of collapse could soon get much needed improvements. Many Martin County, Kentucky, residents were without water for long periods this winter. The crisis drew attention amid a national discussion about infrastructure priorities, and put a spotlight on the sort of water woes that are… Read More

Living With Black Lung: Coal Miners Caught In A Surging Epidemic

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The central Appalachian coalfields are in the middle of an unprecedented epidemic of severe black lung disease. In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association federal researchers released the results of a study conducted at just three black lung clinics. The study confirmed 416 cases of the most severe form of black lung… Read More

Changing Course: Federal Grant Fills Gaps In Rural School Funding

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A group of students from South Floyd Middle School had seen the nearby elementary school suffer damage from floods year after year. When they joined the school’s newly formed engineering team, they came up with a low-cost solution. “We’ve designed portable flood levees,” team member Preston Crase explained. The plastic bins are filled with a mixture… Read More

Burned By Coal: Coalfield Communities Facing Electricity Price Hikes

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One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission. Angie Hatton, a state legislator representing Letcher and Pike counties, presented the situation in historical terms. “This community that for two centuries has been… Read More

Mine Health Expert Concerned About Review Of Coal Dust Rule

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The Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget has announced a review of an Obama-era rule that protects coal miners from exposure to the dust that causes black lung disease. That has some health and safety advocates concerned. The review comes amid a tide of regulatory rollbacks by the Trump administration and at a time that black… Read More