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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

Wayne National Forest sign

No Bidders for Coal Leases Inside Wayne National Forest

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The federal government says it received no bids during a competitive lease sale for coal underneath about 430 acres of Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. The Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States released the results of last week’s offering on Tuesday. Leases involved seven tracts in Perry and Morgan counties that contain an… 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

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

Wayne National Forest sign

Government Sells Coal Leases for Wayne National Forest Land

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) – The federal government is holding a competitive lease sale for coal underneath nearly 500 acres inside Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. The Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States says Wednesday’s sale involves seven tracts in Perry and Morgan counties that contain an estimated 1.4 million tons of sub-surface mineable federal coal. The offering… 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

A mining helmet for coal or other mining

Coal Mine Electrician Dies in Accident at West Virginia Mine

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia officials say a 40-year-old coal mine electrician has died in an accident. The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training says Steven Vernon Keeney of Sylvester died of injuries from an apparent electrical shock. The accident happened at 12:18 a.m. Tuesday at the Panther Creek Mining American… Read More

Piles of coal

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Requesting Bond Payment from Coal Companies

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has sent letters to coal and construction companies that might be in violation of a state law that requires a bond to cover employee wages. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that over the last few weeks, the cabinet wrote to 89 companies that have failed to pay the bond. Last… 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

In this June 6, 2011 photo, this historical marker along W.Va. Route 17 in Blair, W.Va., is the only visible sign of the 1921 battle here between thousands of armed, unionizing coal miners and the thousands of law enforcement officers and security guards hired to defeat them. At least 16 men died on the mountain

On Labor Day, Miners Mark Historic Union March

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Ninety-eight years ago, thousands of pro-union miners marched toward West Virginia’s Logan County, to protest abuses by coal operators in what was then a largely anti-union territory. The marchers were met at Blair Mountain in Logan County by an army of men, fighting on behalf of anti-union mine guards and local law enforcement. The battle… Read More

Official: Kentucky Cabinet Fails to Secure Coal Worker Bonds

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The state’s Labor Cabinet hasn’t secured the necessary bonds from coal companies that would cover wage payments to miners if their employer unexpectedly shuts down, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said. Beshear, a Democrat running for governor, announced on Thursday that his office examined records of Kentucky companies that should be… Read More

Don Blankenship

Judge: Ex-coal CEO Blankenship’s Conviction Should be Tossed

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former coal CEO Don Blankenship’s misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to violate mine safety laws should be tossed out, a federal magistrate judge in West Virginia recommended Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhson wrote that Blankenship’s rights were violated under the Brady rule, which says suppression of evidence favorable to the accused… 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

Few Answers For Unpaid Miners After Day One of Blackjewel Sales Hearing

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Blackjewel coal miners will have to wait at least another day to learn if the sale of the bankrupt coal company’s mines and equipment will deliver their overdue paychecks. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia recessed Monday after an all-day hearing that yielded few results. The court is scheduled to… Read More

Piles of coal

Auction Set for Bankrupt Coal Producer Blackjewel’s Assets

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An auction is set for the assets of bankrupt coal operator Blackjewel LLC. A notice filed in federal bankruptcy court in West Virginia said the auction was scheduled for Thursday morning at the Cincinnati law office of attorneys representing Blackjewel. Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy last week offered $20.6 million as the stalking… Read More

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice

W.Va. Governor Signs Tax Break for Company Amid Debt Claim

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has approved a tax break for a struggling coal-fired power plant whose operator says a company owned by the governor owes it $3.1 million. The Republican governor on Tuesday signed a bill to stop charging FirstEnergy Solutions a $12.5 million state tax. The company has been… Read More

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.

Blackjewel Miners Block Railroad To Demand Pay From Bankrupt Coal Company

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Some coal miners left without pay by the bankruptcy of coal company Blackjewel LLC are protesting by blocking a coal train in eastern Kentucky. The stand-off began early Monday when five miners blocked the train from leaving the Cumberland, Kentucky, plant. Despite police asking them to leave, miners spent the night blocking the railroad to… Read More

Power Plant: How A Grass Might Generate Fuel And Help Fix Damaged Mine Lands

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Down bumpy back roads deep in central West Virginia, a flat, bright green pasture opens up among the rolling hills of coffee-colored trees. Wildflowers and butterflies dot the pasture, but West Virginia University Professor Jeff Skousen is here for something else that stands above the rest of the Appalachian scenery – literally. Thick stalks of… Read More

Piles of coal

Hearing on Bidding Process for Coal Operator Continued

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal hearing adjourned Thursday without a decision on a bidding process proposed for mines owned by a bankrupt West Virginia-based coal company. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Volk told the parties in federal court in Huntington the emergency hearing would resume Friday morning in Charleston. Volk heard nearly two hours of… Read More

Trump Celebrates at W.Va. Fundraiser After Mueller Hearings

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WHEELING, West Virginia (AP) — A triumphant President Donald Trump celebrated Wednesday evening after Robert Mueller’s testimony, telling attendees at a closed-door fundraiser in West Virginia that the former special counsel’s appearance was a dud. Trump, who arrived at the fundraiser energized and excited, told a crowd at the WesBanco Arena that Mueller’s testimony was… Read More

A union miner at the rally for pension protection.

Coal Miners Back in Washington Fighting for Benefits

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United Mine Workers and supporters were on Capitol Hill Wednesday in an effort to shore up their pension and health benefits. More than 43,000 coal miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are growing anxious about losing their retirement benefits. The coal miner’s union says its pension fund will be insolvent in three years if Congress doesn’t… 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

Piles of coal

WV Lawmakers OK Tax Break for Struggling Coal-Fired Power Plant

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a bill to give a tax break to a struggling coal-fired power plant. The Senate and the House of Delegates passed the measure Tuesday without much debate, sending it to the governor’s office. The proposal would exempt FirstEnergy Solutions, which has been operating in bankruptcy,… Read More