Coal

Courtesy Serena Stanley

 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.

Still from CSPAN video.

  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 Appalachian coalfields. 

NursingTogether.com

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has not done enough to protect coal miners during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a reportfrom an oversight agency released Tuesday. 

Sydney Boles

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. A billboard advertises Portal 31, a coal town tourist attraction. 

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

  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.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley Resource

  A coalition of progressive policy and environmental groups has released a “blueprint” that provides a framework for how Ohio Valley communities could reap the benefits of federal action to address climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Brittany Patterson / WFPL

The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that includes two provisions that would specifically help coal-reliant communities in the Ohio Valley.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley Resource

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.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

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.” 

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

  As states across the Ohio Valley order the closure of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, coal mines will remain open.

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