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Coal Comfort: Trump’s EPA And Energy’s Winners And Losers

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to end the Clean Power Plan is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to support the struggling coal industry. The Department of Energy is also pushing a new way to subsidize coal power. But a new study suggests market forces — not regulations — will still make more coal power plants in the… Read More

EPA’s Pruitt Visits Kentucky Coal Country To End Clean Power Plan

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt used a trip to Kentucky coal country to announce the Trump administration’s plans to dismantle a regulation that sought to limit carbon pollution. Pruitt visited Hazard, Kentucky, to make official what had long been anticipated: that he plans to halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-era regulation aimed… Read More

Manchin Opposes Trump’s Mine Safety Nominee

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West Virginia Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin will not support the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the federal agency in charge of mine safety. Manchin said in a statement that he will not support David Zatezalo to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. Zatezalo, a Wheeling, West Virginia, resident and formercoal company executive, was named… Read More

The New Normal: Super-Storms Highlight Importance Of Disaster Planning

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Harvey. Irma. Maria. The hurricane season’s super-charged storms have highlighted the importance of disaster planning, and the aftermath offers a fresh lesson in just how long and difficult recovery can be. Communities in the Ohio Valley, some still recovering from flash floods themselves, are looking at ways to prepare for what emergency management professionals warn… Read More

A mountaintop removal mine site in southern West Virginia.

Strip Mining Science: Trump Administration Stops Mining Health Study

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The Perry County Public Library in Hazard, Kentucky, lies along Black Gold Boulevard — a name that nods to the wealth the coal from these hills has generated. On a recent Tuesday evening, however, the library was the venue for a hearing about the full costs of extracting that coal. A team from the National Academy… Read More

A mountaintop removal mine site in southern West Virginia.

Trump Administration Halts Mining Health Study

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The Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has asked the National Academy of Sciences to suspend research into the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. A team from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established last year for a two-year study. The committee has been conducting hearings and investigating accumulating science on the… Read More

Coal Hard Cash: WV Governor Wants Federal Money For Eastern Coal

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The country’s newest Republican governor is, like President Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, a political outsider, and a fan of the coal industry. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former coal company owner, was elected as a Democrat but switched parties with a surprise announcement at a Trump rally in West Virginia. Both Trump and Justice campaigned… Read More

In The Pipeline: New Commission Members To Take Up Energy Projects

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Big-ticket gas pipelines and other energy projects pending in the Ohio Valley have largely been in limbo because the federal body that issues important permits had too many empty seats. Those projects in the pipeline of the federal process could soon move forward with the confirmation of two Republicans nominated by President Donald Trump to… Read More

Considering Compassion: The Science Behind The Ohio Valley’s “Compassionate Cities”

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Many towns and cities across the Ohio Valley try to improve their business environment with tax breaks, site development, and other incentives. But how about investing in compassion? A growing body of science points to compassion as an economic driver and more businesses and cities around the region are willing to give compassion a chance…. Read More

Paradise Cost: Coal, Natural Gas, And The True Price Of Power

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Thanks to singer-songwriter John Prine, Paradise Fossil Plant might be the only coal-fired power plant that has a household name. “Paradise,” Prine’s 1971 ballad, drew on boyhood memories from the small town of Paradise, in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to relay the environmental and social costs of our dependence on coal. “Mr. Peabody’s coal train,” he… Read More

Committee Hears More About Deadly Black Lung Resurgence

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While President Trump is wrapping up a week of energy talks in Washington highlighting the benefits of coal, health and industry experts met in Morgantown, West Virginia, to discuss the resurgence of black lung disease among miners. Health researchers have called the recent rates of dust-induced lung disease in coal miners historically unparalleled. Congress has… Read More

Piles of coal

Divestment Proposal Pits Coal States Against California

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Political leaders in West Virginia and Kentucky are joining a coalition of states threatening to sue California over a program the state is pushing that would drop investments in coal. This week the attorney general of West Virginia joined 11 other Republican attorneys general and the governor of Kentucky in signing a letter to the commissioner of… Read More

The Struggle To Stay: Personal Stories Behind Population Loss

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Editor’s Note: Parts of Appalachia are bleeding population; the 2015 U.S. Census showed West Virginia was losing population faster than any other state. There’s a palpable struggle to leave, but also to stay in these hills. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s podcast, Inside Appalachia, has a new series of stories called “The Struggle to Stay”. Reporters… Read More

Coal Country’s Mixed Views on Climate Accord

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  Many political leaders in the Ohio Valley approve of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. But surveys indicate that public opinion across the region varies, with a slight majority saying they’d like the country to stay the course on climate change. According to a Yale University survey, the… Read More

Piles of coal

A Coal Comeback? Analysis Casts Doubt On Industry’s Chances

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Can coal make a comeback? That’s the title of a ​new report from Columbia University​’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Researchers there analyzed the factors leading to the coal industry’s sharp decline over the past six years and assessed the Trump administration’s efforts to revive it. The report casts doubt on the chances for a… Read More

Revenue Stream: How An Environmental Law Creates Jobs In Coal Country

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When President Donald Trump visited Kentucky for a recent rally he returned to a common theme from his campaign: environmental regulations are job-killers. “I have already eliminated a devastating anti-coal regulation,” he said, referring to a measure he recently signed overturning a Department of Interior stream protection rule. “And that is just the beginning,” the… Read More

KY, WV Move to Weaken Mine Safety Rules

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Lawmakers in both Kentucky and West Virginia are working to loosen mine safety regulations, alarming some mine safety experts. Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill that reduces the number of underground mine inspections. Similar legislation is pending in West Virginia’s Senate but with more substantial changes. Under that bill, the state’s mining inspection system would move… Read More

DuPont Offers $670M Settlement For “Teflon” Chemical Contamination Of Water

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The chemical giant DuPont made an offer Monday to pay more than half-a-billion dollars to settle water contamination lawsuits pending in federal court. 3,550 plaintiffs from the mid-Ohio Valley filed suit claiming contaminated drinking water led to diseases linked to chemical exposure. The chemical they were exposed to is known as C-8, or PFOA, and… Read More

Ross Reviewed: Trump’s Choice For Commerce Left Mixed Legacy In Ohio Valley

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The billionaire Wilbur Ross is headed for Senate confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of the Department of Commerce. Ross made it to ultra-rich status in part by salvaging coal and steel assets in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. His business dealings leave a mixed legacy in the Ohio Valley region, from… Read More

Picturing The Future: A Coal Community’s Comeback

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Can a photograph help a community grow? One photographer is shedding some light on ongoing efforts in a region looking for some new ways to sustain itself. Rebecca Kiger is a documentary and portrait photographer raised in West Virginia. The images she captures are often exceptionally emotionally evocative. She says it takes a lot of… Read More

Toxic Legacy: “Teflon” Chemical Sticks Around In Water Supplies

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For more than half a century along the Ohio River, the chemical company DuPont provided jobs for thousands of people. One chemical they produced is PFOA, commonly known as C8. It was a remarkably useful compound, used in “Teflon” non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and even in some food wrappers. Over time, researchers have found that… Read More

Power Play: Experts Say Killing Clean Power Plan Won’t Revive Coal

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Coal-producing states are preparing for arguments next month in the federal appeals court case known as West Virginia v. EPA, challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The case has major implications for the country’s policy on climate change. But some experts and industry leaders say the… Read More

Water pouring

Study Finds Widespread Contamination of Ohio Valley Drinking Water

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A study of drinking water systems found 6 million Americans, including people in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, are living with drinking water containing chemicals linked to a host of health problems. The Harvard Chan School of Public Health published research in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters that delves into thousands of drinking… Read More

The Flood Next Time: Warming Raises The Risk Of Disaster

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People in West Virginia are still recovering from floods that tore through communities like vengeful gods. When you look at the pictures and videos of the June flood – thick, brown, furious, unrelenting – it’s not hard to imagine how our ancestors believed supernatural beings were behind the devastation. Today, of course, we have better… Read More