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Black Lung, Red Ink: Residents Press McConnell As Deadline Looms For Black Lung Fund

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On a cool but clear November day about a dozen residents from eastern Kentucky’s coal mining region crowded into the lobby of an office building in the small town of London, Kentucky. That’s where Kentucky’s powerful senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has his local field office. McConnell’s staff let the local advocates for black lung treatment… Read More

Census Data Show Some KY Counties Among Nation’s Poorest

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New data from the Census Bureau show eastern Kentucky is still struggling with poverty and lagging far behind national and state averages in terms of income. The Bureau’s latest American Community Survey shows Bell, Harlan and McCreary Counties have some of the lowest median household incomes in the United States. Of counties with 10,000 residents or more,… Read More

Digging For Answers: New Report Points To Industry Obfuscation Of Mining’s Health Effects

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Jason Walker spends $50 per month on bottled water. He spends three hours each week standing by the small stream that runs near his house, pumping creek water into a thousand-gallon tank.   “You have to catch the creek at the right time, when it’s clear,” Walker said. “Whatever you pump, whatever the creek looks… Read More

Mine Workers Sue Federal Regulators Over Controversial Mine Safety Decision

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The United Mine Workers of America is suing the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, after the agency reduced its heightened oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. MSHA has the power to declare mines with a history of significant safety violations as having a “Pattern of Violations.”… Read More

Fracking’s Next Boom? Petrochemical Plants Fuel Debate Over Jobs, Pollution

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More than 100 people braved freezing temperatures to both listen and have their say in front of Ohio environmental officials at a recent hearing in Belmont County, Ohio. For the three dozen or so people who testified, the stakes were high. The hearing at Shadyside High School focused on a nearly 300-page, densely technical, draft air… Read More

CDC Data Show Ohio Valley Still Has Nation’s Highest Overdose Death Rates

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New federal data show the Ohio Valley again led the nation in rates of fatal drug overdoses last year. The data confirm what local officials have reported: Synthetic opioids are fueling the increase. West Virginia had the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in 2017 with 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Ohio had the second-highest… Read More

GOP Tax Bill Would Extend Endangered Funding for Disabled Miners

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As Appalachian coal miners suffer from a historic surge in black lung disease, a federal trust fund that supports some of those miners has been scheduled to lose a significant portion of its funding. A new tax bill in Congress includes a provision to extend the coal excise tax that supports the trust fund. With… Read More

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“A Failure Of Public Health.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases Rise As Health Budgets Fall

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Health officials are tracking record-breaking rates of sexually transmitted disease, including a resurgence of some infections which had been considered rare, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. These STDs are on the rise amid cuts to public health budgets dedicated to testing, prevention, and public outreach. In the Ohio Valley, for example, a review of state and… Read More

Shading Out Solar: State Policies In Ohio Valley Dim Future Of Energy Jobs

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When Jennie and Brian Kahly decided to move to a 150-acre family farm in West Virginia’s Preston County, they thought a lot about what type of farmers they wanted to be. “We went ahead and made a list of values, and one of those values was to minimize our fossil fuel use,” Jennie said. “That… Read More

Groups Say Smart Reclamation Of Mine Lands Could Be “Appalachia’s New Deal”

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From solar farms in Virginia to a green energy subdivision in Kentucky, a new report by a group of regional advocacy organizations highlights 20 ready-made projects across the Ohio Valley that could give abandoned mining operations that were never cleaned up a second life, and create new economic opportunity across the region. In the report, released Tuesday,… Read More