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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin with miners on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers, Union Urge Mine Safety Regulators to Act on Silica Dust

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (OVR) — A group of Ohio Valley senators says a watchdog agency’s recent report shows that federal regulators must do more to protect coal miners from silica dust, an especially toxic form of dust created when mining equipment cuts into rock layers near coal seams. In a Monday morning press release, six Democratic senators,… Read More

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

Federal Watchdog Finds Coal Safety Regulator Not Protecting Miners From Silica Dust

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (OVR) — The Mine Safety and Health Administration is not doing enough to protect coal miners from deadly silica dust, according to a new report from the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General. The IG found that MSHA’s standards for exposure to deadly silica dust were out of date, and MSHA lacked… Read More

A coal silo near the old Marsh Fork Elementary School.

Advocates Say Citizen Mining Complaint Process Weakened By Rule Change

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (OVR) — Environmental and community advocates in Appalachian coal communities are concerned about a new federal rule, finalized this week, that is changing the process that allows citizens to file complaints about polluting coal mining operations. The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement said in a Tuesday press release that… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Ohio Valley Coal Mine Executive Bob Murray Dead at 80

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ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (OVR) — Robert E. Murray, the founder and former president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., formerly the largest privately-held underground coal company in the country, has died. He was 80 years old. Murray’s death was reported Sunday evening by television stations WTOV9 in Steubenville, Ohio, and WOWK in Huntington, West Virginia. According to the news… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Bob Murray Announces Retirement From Coal Company He Founded

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ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (OVR) — After applying for black lung benefits, Robert Murray, founder and former president of the now-bankrupt coal company Murray Energy Corp., announced Monday he was leaving the business after more than 60 years in the industry. Murray Energy emerged from bankruptcy protection last month as American Consolidated Natural Resources (ACNR). The 80-year-old Murray was named chairman… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Bob Murray, Who Fought Black Lung Regulations As A Coal Operator, Has Filed For Black Lung Benefits

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SAINT CLAIRSVILLE, OH (OVR) — Robert E. Murray, the former CEO and president of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Labor for black lung benefits. For years, Murray and his company fought against federal mine safety regulations aimed at reducing the debilitating disease. “I founded the company and… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Murray Energy Exits Bankruptcy, Rehires Union Miners

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ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (OVR) — Coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. has emerged from bankruptcy with a new name and a commitment to rehire all of its former union employees, according to a news release from the United Mine Workers of America. UMWA President Cecil Roberts said on Wednesday that a new collective bargaining agreement has… Read More

Piles of coal

Remembering A Miner Who Personified Coal’s Contributions And Costs

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Charles Wayne Stanley ran underground mining machines for some 20 years, cutting coal from beneath the hills where Virginia meets Kentucky along the Cumberland ridge. He spent another decade as a roof bolter, work that kept the rock above from falling in on his fellow miners. Stanley was 53 when the Ohio Valley ReSource and… Read More

Miners assemble on railroad tracks to block a shipment of coal from a Blackjewel mine.

Former Blackjewel Miners Could Get More Money From Proposed Settlement

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CASPER, Wyo. (OVR) — A proposed $17.3 million settlement of a class action lawsuit would provide additional payment for hundreds of Appalachian coal miners who were suddenly left jobless by the abrupt bankruptcy of the Blackjewel mining company. The settlement must be approved by the judge overseeing the complicated Blackjewel bankruptcy case. Although it is not… Read More

President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.

“False Hope” or Four More Years? Ohio Valley Stakeholders Reflect On Trump Energy Policy

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (OVR) — In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump was all-in on the fossil fuel industry. In a 2016 rally in Charleston, West Virginia, the candidate proudly accepted an endorsement from that state’s coal association, donning a hardhat while he mimed digging coal. To thundering applause, he promised to bring back coal jobs to the struggling… Read More

Piles of coal

Mine Safety Officials Won’t Do More To Protect Coal Miners From COVID-19, Letter Says

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (OVR) —The Mine Safety and Health Administration is declining to issue an emergency temporary standard that could protect coal miners whose jobs make them vulnerable to the coronavirus. That’s according to an August 14 letter from Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. MSHA can issue emergency temporary… Read More

FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Federal PAC Donations Show Ohio Valley Lawmakers Raked In Thousands From Utility FirstEnergy

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (OVR) — Lawmakers from across the Ohio Valley have received nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions from 2019-2020 from a political action committee associated with FirstEnergy Corp., the electric utility implicated in a $61 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and… Read More

Piles of coal

Contura Energy Will Accelerate Exit From Thermal Coal Business, Citing Global Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

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BRISTOL, Tenn. (OVR) — A major Ohio Valley coal producer announced last week it will speed up its exit from producing coal used to generate electricity. In a call with shareholders last week, Contura Energy, Inc., said the move is tied to the ongoing global transition away from fossil fuels. “We recognize that the world is transitioning… Read More

Piles of coal

Oversight Office: MSHA Should Do More To Protect Miners In Pandemic

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (OVR) — The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has not done enough to protect coal miners during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from an oversight agency released Tuesday. Through interviews with MSHA officials and union representatives, as well as reviews of state and national policies, the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector… Read More

Miners assemble on railroad tracks to block a shipment of coal from a Blackjewel mine.

No Pay, We Stay: A Look Back at the 2019 Protest that Rocked Appalachia

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CUMBERLAND, Ky. (OVR) — It’s a quiet, foggy morning on Highway 119 in Cumberland, Kentucky. A railroad track runs along the highway, and here, Sand Hill Bottom Road crosses the tracks and turns to the right, leaving a rough triangle of gravel spattered with trash. You can hear crickets chirping, birds twittering, cars passing on 119…. Read More

Piles of coal

Coal Company Rhino Resource Partners Files For Bankruptcy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (OVR) — Kentucky-based coal company Rhino Resource Partners LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, joining a growing list of Ohio Valley coal producers seeking financial restructuring as the U.S. coal industry continues to struggle. According to court documents, the company and its subsidiaries currently employ about 550 workers at underground and surface… Read More

Piles of coal

Ohio Valley Coal Companies Scored Tens Of MIllions In Paycheck Protection Loans

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WHITESBURG, Ky. (OVR) — More than 50 Ohio Valley coal companies received loans totaling as much as $119 million through the Paycheck Protection Program meant to keep people employed during the pandemic’s economic downturn. Congress passed the PPP in March to help businesses keep employees on the payroll and out of unemployment lines. The data released… Read More

Kayak on river

Coal Towns Were Counting On Tourism For New Jobs. Then Coronavirus Hit.

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On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background — nature’s version of a white noise machine.  For the tanned Currey, who also owns an industrial real estate company, being here, on… Read More

A miner is tested for lung function and signs of black lung disease

Coal and COVID-19: Lung Impairment Makes Miners Especially Vulnerable to Coronavirus

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WHITESBURG, Ky. (OVR) — Underground coal miners start their shifts getting changed in closely packed changing rooms. They ride rail cars to their worksite, shoulder-to-shoulder, sometimes for more than an hour. And once they’re underground, ventilation designed to tamp down coal dust blows air through the mine. All that makes a coal mine  the kind… Read More

David Pratt Jr. and Sr., right and second from right, protest former employer Blackjewel in summer 2019.

‘There’s Going To Be Something Better for Him’: Former Blackjewel Miners Reflect on Changes in Coal Country

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On a blistering August afternoon in Cumberland, Kentucky, David Pratt, Jr. stood in the middle of a two-lane highway, holding a sign that read “COAL MINERS AND TRUCKERS AGAINST CORPORATE AMERICA.” A few yards away, his father, David Pratt Sr., who is graying but still muscular, leaned back in a lawn chair perched precariously on… Read More

Piles of coal

UMWA Wants More Coronavirus Protections for Coal Miners

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The United Mine Workers of America is asking federal regulators to set uniform, enforceable guidelines to help protect coal miners from contracting COVID-19. In a letter dated Tuesday, March 24, UMWA President Cecil Roberts wrote to the Mine Safety and Health Administration requesting the agency issue a “safeguard” or “emergency standard” that would require coal mine operators… Read More

The coal power station on the border between WV and PA

Amid Climate Debate and Coal’s Decline, West Virginia Considers its Future

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On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities. As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and… Read More

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

Scientists, Mine Safety Officials Discuss Black Lung Protections

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Officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration met for the first time with miners’ health researchers Wednesday in a new partnership designed to discuss ways to better protect coal miners from the dust that causes black lung disease. In future meetings, representatives from the two agencies will discuss recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences… Read More