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“Matewan” Revisited: Film Unearthed Region’s Buried Labor History

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Thirty years ago the premiere of a small-budget, independent film had an out-sized effect on how many people in Appalachian coal country thought about their region and their past. “Matewan,” directed by John Sayles, depicted a bloody chapter in the fight to organize coal miners in the 1920s, exploring themes of class struggle and pacifism in… Read More

Bipartisan Bill Would Prop Up Coal Miners’ Pensions

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A bipartisan Congressional group from the Ohio Valley and beyond introduced a new bill to save pensions for retired union coal miners throughout the region. The American Miners Pension Act, or AMP, would secure pensions for about 43,000 miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia whose retirement benefits have been undermined by the decline of the coal… Read More

Opioids On Trial: Can Lawsuits Help Fix The Addiction Crisis?

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When health care and law enforcement officials met recently at a health policy forum in Lexington, Kentucky, to share ideas about the opioid crisis, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear listed some groups that have benefited from money won in a 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. “We had Freedom House in Louisville and… 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

Hog-Tied? NAFTA Talks Have Ohio Valley Pork Producers Nervous

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Talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, are set for later this month and farm country is concerned about the potential fallout from a trade dispute. Pork producers are especially nervous about the implications of a threat from President Trump to place a 20 percent tariff on Mexican food imports. “Mexico is… Read More

The Big Latch: Rising Breast-feeding Rates Could Boost Region’s Health

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Edwin Hall is dressed in a footed onsie covered in the pastel shades of monkeys and hippos. Although Edwin’s just seven weeks old he already tells his mom when he’s hungry with a sharp and persistent yelp. Soon after he gets her attention, Edwin is practicing his sucking technique. His mom, Sarah, with the dazed… Read More

New Mine Safety “Assistance” Program Raises Concerns

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Lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s practices amid an increase in coal fatalities. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin asked MSHA for more information after receiving what he calls “alarming” reports about how the agency is implementing its new Compliance Assistance Program . In a September 7th letter, Manchin wrote… Read More

More Breakdowns Halt Ohio River Traffic

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Another breakdown at an aging lock and dam has halted river traffic on the Ohio in western Kentucky. It’s the second such interruption in less than a year for a stretch of river that carries some 90 million tons of cargo annually. “A lot of commerce does go through that section and delays cost the industry money,”… Read More

Coal Fatalities Rise: Miner Deaths Increase Amid Low Coal Employment

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A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates. Already this year 12 miners have died on the job in the U.S., compared to eight fatalities in all of 2016. Two miners… Read More

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