Coal

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said money his family’s coal companies owe in West Virginia has been paid.

At a Monday news conference, West Virginia revenue officials said the obligations from Justice’s companies had been paid, including fines and taxes.

“The state is completely and totally satisfied with the resolution of these matters,” Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said.

A pilot-scale facility that extracts valuable rare earth elements from coal waste byproducts officially opened its doors this week at West Virginia University.

Advocates of the project are hopeful that environmental waste left by Appalachia’s coal mining legacy could one day fuel an economic boom in the region while also providing some national security.


Still from White House video

President Donald Trump last week told the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to stop the closures of coal and nuclear power plants in the Ohio Valley region that are no longer economical to operate.

President Trump has ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take immediate steps to help financially troubled coal and nuclear power plants.

Ryan Van Velzer, WFPL

Henderson, Kentucky’s coal-fired power plant provided among the lowest electricity rates in the country for its residents just two years ago, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

More coal miners in central Appalachia have suffered the advanced stages of the deadly disease black lung than previous government research has found, and more miners working in the region today have earlier stages of the disease.

Those are two of the findings in a bundle of studies released Tuesday and expected to be released soon, which focus on the epidemic of black lung disease first reported by NPR in 2016.

Lung Transplants Rise Amid Region’s Black Lung Epidemic

May 17, 2018
Courtesy Jerry Helton

The Appalachian coalfields are in the midst of an epidemic of severe black lung disease. The debilitating and even deadly disease has recently begun to affect miners as young as 30.

This story is part of a series on coal country by NPR's Embedded podcast. Episode audio is below.

On May 5, 2016, Donald Trump led a campaign rally in Charleston, W.Va.

He put on a hard hat and pretended he was shoveling coal. The crowd loved it.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The federal agency that trains, tests and certifies the physicians who read X-rays and diagnose the deadly coal miners' disease black lung said today it was not consulted by Kentucky lawmakers in the 14 months they considered a new law that mostly limits diagnoses to pulmonologists working for coal companies.

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

"Innovate, don’t regulate." That was the ‘bumper sticker’ message U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry delivered to business leaders in Hopkinsville on Thursday.

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