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A scene from inside Portal 31.

Portal 31: How A Closed Mine Opened New Prospects For One Coal Town

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Devin Mefford is sitting in the squat metal buggy of a modified mantrip, the train-like shuttle coal miners use to travel underground. Mefford is dressed for work, in a hardhat and a navy shirt and pants with lime green reflective stripes. It’s a uniform his father and grandfather — both Kentucky coal miners — would… Read More

Piles of coal

EPA Proposes Changes to Federal Coal Ash, Wastewater Rules

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Federal environmental regulators released proposed changes to two rules related to the disposal of coal ash and wastewater from coal-fired power plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced its third round of changes to its 2015 rule regulating coal ash. Coal ash is one of the largest waste streams in the country and often contains toxic… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Ohio-Based Coal Giant Murray Energy Declares Bankruptcy

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Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in America with a substantial footprint across the Ohio Valley, has filed for bankruptcy protection. “Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers… Read More

Water pouring

Advocacy Group Finds Traces Contamination In Many Regional Water Systems

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Tap water delivered by more than 2,000 water systems across the Ohio Valley contain pollutants, many harmful to human health, even though they mostly meet federal drinking water standards. That’s according to a newly-updated database released by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. Millions of residents in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are being exposed to small amounts of… Read More

The Paducah Water lab tests a variety of different water samples

Ohio To Test For Toxic PFAS Chemicals In Drinking Water

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Ohio will begin testing some public and private water systems for the presence of toxic nonstick, fluorinated chemicals, broadly called PFAS. In a press release issued Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state’s environmental and public health agencies will analyze drinking water systems located near places with known contamination. That includes near firefighting training… Read More

Norton City Manager Fred Ramey poses at Flag Rock Recreation Area.

The Coal Town Betting Big On Outdoor Recreation

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Standing on the breezy outlook at Flag Rock Recreation Area, Norton City Manager Fred Ramey is taking in the panoramic view of downtown Norton, Virginia. The brick building-lined streets are framed by the verdant, rolling Appalachian mountains. Jagged, brown scars from mountaintop mining operations can be seen in the distance, reminders of the region’s history… Read More

Environmental groups posted signs in Shadyside, OH.

Settlement Reached Over Proposed Ohio Cracker Plant Air Permit

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Environmental groups have reached a settlement agreement with a petrochemical company  in Ohio to beef up air pollution controls at a proposed petrochemical plant along the Ohio River. Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical America and South Korea-based Daelim Industrial Co. have proposed building a multi-billion dollar ethylene cracker plant on a 500-acre tract of land in Belmont County,… Read More

Near the scene of the miners’ protest in Harlan Co., KY.

Paychecks Cut For Some Blackjewel Miners; Others Still Wait

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West Virginia employees of coal operator Blackjewel LLC have received their final paychecks more than two months after the company declared bankruptcy on July 1. In an agreement reached last week between the Department of Labor and the company, Blackjewel cut paper checks for all owed wages to a few dozen employees working at the… Read More

Matt Hepler of the advocacy group Appalachian Voices.

Idle Lands: Justice Coal Group Top User Of Loophole Allowing Mine Lands To Sit Idle

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Standing at an overlook on the top of Black Mountain — the tallest point in Kentucky —  the wooded Appalachian mountains stretch on like a sea of green for miles. For many, this mountain is synonymous with the coal industry. It straddles the state line separating Harlan County, Kentucky and Wise County, Virginia, two communities… Read More

Mussel Woman: Biologist Passes Along Pearls Of Wisdom About Threatened Mussels

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Janet Clayton is standing thigh-deep in a back channel of the Elk River. Clad in a wetsuit and knee pads, the silver-haired biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reaches into a bright orange mesh bag submerged in water. Inside are a half dozen mussels she plucked from the rocky river bottom. “This… Read More