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An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

MSHA Comment Period Shows Divide on Measures to Protect Miners Health

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The comment period has closed for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule on respirable silica, a major contributor to skyrocketing rates of lung disease among coal miners. The 49 relevant comments included a striking testimony from an anonymous coal miner sharing details of the ways in which current mine operators cheat on dust… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Black Lung Trust Fund Likely Burdened by Murray Bankruptcy

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The recent bankruptcy of Murray Energy is likely to significantly increase the debt of a struggling federal trust fund that supports disabled miners’ health care expenses. According to court filings, Murray Energy could be responsible for as much as $155 million under the Black Lung Act and general workers’ compensation, but testimony from the Government Accountability… Read More

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.

Blackjewel Miners Get More of Their Pay as Labor Dept. Acts Against Bankrupt Company

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Coal miners who went without pay when mining company Blackjewel declared bankruptcy this June are one step closer to receiving lost wages. The checks come weeks after some of the miners ended a long-running protest, and months after the federal Department of Labor first intervened to allege the company violated labor laws in the month… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Murray Energy CEO Lashes Out at “Feckless” Federal Officials Over Coal Subsidy Plan

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Coal executive Bob Murray clashed Monday with federal energy regulators at a Lexington, Kentucky, energy forum over what Murray called a failure by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sufficiently support the struggling coal industry. “The word that I’ve been using to describe FERC is feckless,” Murray told the audience, including FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee…. Read More

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

Federal Agency to Hear Comment on Silica Dust as Black Lung Epidemic Rages

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The Mine Safety and Health Administration will host a public meeting Thursday as it considers action on regulating respirable silica, one of the major contributors to Appalachia’s skyrocketing rates of black lung disease. MSHA issued a request for information in response to calls for increased regulation after a 2018 investigation from NPR and PBS Frontline. That… Read More

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

New Kentucky Memorial Honors Miners Who Died Of Black Lung

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Coal miners and family members of miners who have died from black lung disease gathered Sunday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, to dedicate a new memorial to miners who perished from the workplace disease. While Appalachian coal country has several memorials to mining disasters, this is believed to be the first memorial to remember the thousands of… Read More

Martin County water treatment plant

Report: Water Unaffordable for Nearly Half of Martin Co., Kentucky

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A new report finds nearly half the residents of Martin County, Kentucky, cannot afford water service. Local activists with the Martin County Concerned Citizens are ringing alarm bells about water affordability as the beleaguered county faces another likely water rate increase in the coming months. Since the ReSource first reported on its water crisis two years ago,… Read More

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.

Former Blackjewel Miners End Railroad Blockade In Kentucky

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The nearly two-month blockade of a Kentucky railroad track is coming to an end as unpaid coal miners end their protest in order to take new jobs, start classes, or move away from their coal-dependent communities. When coal company Blackjewel abruptly declared bankruptcy in July, it left some 1100 Appalachian coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia without pay…. Read More

This Sept. 16, 2016 file photo, shows Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers discussing the status of the statewide broadband network at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. Launched with considerable fanfare in 2015

SOAR At Six: Group’s Lofty Goals For Coal Country Meet Challenges

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In a conference hall in Pikeville, Kentucky, this September, Gov. Matt Bevin led an eager audience in a countdown. When the audience reached “One!,” a map on the screen behind the governor lit up with the promise of a high-tech future. After years of delay and scandal, major portions of the commonwealth’s “middle mile” of… Read More

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration David Zatezalo

Mines That Change Owners Have Worse Safety Record, Audit Finds

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A new federal government report shows that mines that changed ownership had worse safety records than mines where ownership did not change. According to an audit from the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, mines that changed ownership during a 17-year period were nearly twice as likely to have safety violations, and five times as likely to report severe accidents… Read More

“Bloody Harlan” Revisited: Blackjewel Miners Draw On Labor History While Facing Uncertain Future

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Curtis Cress sat in the gravel beside a railroad track in Harlan County, Kentucky. Tall and thin with a long, black beard, Cress is every bit a coal miner, or, he was until a month ago. “It’s part of my heritage, you know? My dad and papaws had always done it,” he said. “And I’m… Read More

Piles of coal

As Disabled Miners Hit D.C., Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Fund Black Lung Benefits

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Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation Tuesday to provide additional funding for coal miners suffering from black lung. The bills came as a contingent of Appalachian miners afflicted with the disease lobbied lawmakers for more support. “It doesn’t only take your health. It takes your identity,” Barry Johnson said of the disease. Johnson is a… Read More

W.H. Sammis Coal Plant in Stratton, Ohio.

“Death Spiral.” How A Carbon Tax Could End Some Coal Towns … Or Fund A New Future

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Declining coal tax revenues place coal-reliant counties in Appalachia at risk of fiscal collapse, according to new research from the centrist Brookings Institution and Columbia University. Policies designed to prevent further climate change would accelerate that decline, the report found, but could also provide a new stream of revenue to help communities rebound from coal’s… Read More

My Cold Kentucky Home: Coal Country Turning To Solar As Heating And Housing Costs Climb

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Joe Oliver and Tony Brown peered into the dark crawl space beneath a Letcher County, Kentucky, home. Already, they could see problems. The crawl space had been blocked off with just a thin sheet of plywood; the posts supporting the house rested on uneven blobs of poured concrete; the whole place reeked of mold. A… Read More

As Calls For Action On Black Lung Disease Grow, Regulators Show Little Indication Of Change

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Harold Sturgill was disabled by black lung disease when he was 58 years old. Now he advocates for disabled miners. “When it comes to the mining companies, and it comes to the worker, it’s still all about production,” Sturgill said. “They could care less about me, how much dust I suck in, or how long… Read More

This Aug. 22, 2018, file photo shows a sign declaring the future home of Braidy Industries' aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky.

Congressional Leaders Seek Investigation Into Russian Investment In KY Aluminum Mill

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A group of Congressional leaders asked the Trump administration to review a Russian company’s investment in a new Kentucky aluminum mill. The request comes from eight prominent Democratic lawmakers with leadership roles in committees with oversight, banking and national security responsibilities, including Ohio Sen.Sherrod Brown and House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff. The lawmakers… Read More

The site near Ashland, KY, where Braidy plans a new aluminum facility.

From Russia, With Loot: KY Aluminum Company’s New Russian Partner Raises Concerns

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A large whiteboard in an Ashland, Kentucky, unemployment office is covered with a list of companies that are currently hiring. Senior career counselor Melissa Sloas said that just a few years ago, that board was a lot emptier. This corner of eastern Kentucky has long struggled to make up for losses in mining and manufacturing…. Read More

For Earth Day Nature Conservancy Preserves 100,000 Acres Of Appalachian Forest And Streams

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A conservation group chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the purchase of a massive property in Appalachian forest to protect habitat and help wildlife adapt to the challenges of climate change. The property covers 100,000 acres of forest straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit that made the purchase, said it plans to restore… Read More

This Aug. 22, 2018, file photo shows a sign declaring the future home of Braidy Industries' aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky.

Kentucky Aluminum Plant Investor Is Russian Company Formerly Under U.S. Sanctions

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Russian aluminum company Rusal announced Monday it plans to invest in a new Kentucky aluminum mill to be built near Ashland in eastern Kentucky. The $200 million investment in Braidy Industries is Rusal’s first U.S. project since the Trump administration lifted U.S. sanctions placed against the company. Rusal had been sanctioned by the U.S. government because its major controller, Russian… Read More

Sweet Equity: Ohio Valley Farmers Tapping Into Tradition

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When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the the steep mountainside on foot. Now, Long rides an open-air buggy up muddy switchbacks to a 500-gallon collection tank from which translucent blue… Read More

Toyota Driving Demand For Solar Power In Ohio Valley

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Automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. The plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old surface coal mine property in Kentucky. Sources close to the deal tell the Ohio Valley Resource that the Kentucky site is part of… Read More

Jail bars

Profiting Off Prisoners: State Inmates Mean Big Bucks for Local Jails

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Rural jails in Kentucky are increasingly relying on income derived from payments for holding state prisoners in county facilities, according to a new report by a think tank that advocates for criminal justice reform. To address overcrowding, states make payments to counties to hold convicted prisoners and pretrial detainees. States save money, and counties get… Read More

Inventor, Businessman, Activist: The Remarkable Life Of Ohio Valley Native Garrett Morgan

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On the night of July 24, 1916, a natural gas explosion near Cleveland trapped workers in a waterworks tunnel beneath Lake Erie. Rescuers sent in to recover the trapped men were themselves felled by “noxious fumes.” The Cleveland authorities knew just who to call: Garrett Morgan, an inventor who had recently given a demonstration of… Read More

An image from an EnerBlu promotional video.

Kentucky Project’s Demise Linked to International Fallout From Journalist’s Murder

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When battery manufacturer EnerBlu announced it would suspend plans for a new factory in Pikeville, Kentucky, the company used an intriguing phrase. “Unexpected geopolitical factors,” the company said, had soured the deal. According to a former executive at the company, those factors tied the rural eastern Kentucky development project to one of the world’s largest… Read More

bl-widows-salyers-photo

Still Fighting: These Widows’ Stories Show Larger Effects of Black Lung Epidemic

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Nancy and Rich Potter had the kind of marriage that made other couples jealous. He’d take her on spontaneous trips. She’d wear her Daisy Dukes just for him. Joyce Birman said her late husband, George, made a terrible first impression. It was his apology for it that made her fall for him, hard. Vickie Salyers’… Read More