coal

Environment
1:59 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

More on the Data Behind the Decline in Kentucky's Coal Industry

Erica Peterson WFPL

Yesterday, WFPL aired a story about the long relationship Eastern Kentucky residents have had with the coal industry, and where coal’s decline leaves the region.

Read: Hollowed Mountains, Now Hollowed Towns: Coal in Eastern Kentucky.

Both the story and the various economic factors at play in Eastern Kentucky are complicated. But I wanted to call attention to one very important point: that even though there’s been a noticeable decline in the eastern coalfields over the past two years, there’s probably going to be an even greater decline in the demand for Eastern Kentucky coal over the next two years.

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Environment
6:55 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Hollowed Mountains, Now Hollowed Towns: Coal in Eastern Kentucky

A truck in Harlan, Ky., proclaims its support for coal and coal miners.
Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL News

HARLAN—People in Eastern Kentucky are used to the ups and downs of a coal-based economy. Prices plummet. Production slows down. Coal miners get laid off. Several months later, prices rise. The phone rings. Miners pick up their helmets and go back to work.

We're in one of those slumps now—but, this time, things are different. In the hardest-hit counties, the bumpers of heavy-duty Ford pickup trucks still host Friends of Coal license plates, next to stickers telling other drivers that coal keeps the lights on. But the winding mountain roads are a little quieter.

You can drive miles without seeing one of the lumbering coal trucks that, for years, carried away the region’s resources.

Coal is embedded into the culture and image of Eastern Kentucky, but the industry is declining in the region. And it's declining permanently. The coal miners—who've known coal through the generations—are being left behind.

Kentucky political leaders largely resort to finger-pointing and rhetoric. 

The coal miners, however, are left with few options but to adapt.

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Education
11:35 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

JCPS Approves Frost Middle School Redesign Despite Air Quality Concerns

Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

The Jefferson County school board approved school redesigns in the southwest, which aim to attract more students living in the area that are leaving for better options. But board member Chris Brady says students may now be exposed longer to air that doesn't meet quality standards. 

“Would you want your children or your grandchildren to go to Frost. The answer for me is simply no. In my view this proposal puts our children at increased risk and should be denied,” he says.

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Environment
12:23 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

East Coast to Kentucky (and Other States): 'We're Sick of Your Air Pollution'

The smokestacks at LG&E's coal-fired Cane Run power plant.
Erica Peterson WFPL

The governors of eight Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are tired of dealing with pollution from the Rust Belt and Appalachia. They’re calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to force tighter air pollution requirements on nine states, including Kentucky and Indiana.

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Environment
6:51 am
Mon December 9, 2013

JCPS Board Member: Frost Middle School's Proximity to Power Plant is Problematic

Erica Peterson WFPL

A JCPS school board member is voicing concern about a proposal that would move more grade levels into Frost Middle School, because of the school’s proximity to a coal-fired power plant. The school board is scheduled to vote on the change tonight.

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Environment
12:52 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

U.S. Chamber Releases Ad Supporting McConnell, Citing Support for Coal

U.S. Senate

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a new ad supporting Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election bid, citing McConnell's support for the coal industry.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Eastern Kentucky Coal Production, Employment Declines Again in Third Quarter

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky’s coal production and employment both dropped during the third quarter of this year, and once again the state’s eastern coalfields recorded the biggest loss, according to the latest quarterly coal report.

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Environment
2:46 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

EPA Approves Changes to Kentucky's Selenium Standard

Gabe Bullard WFPL

The federal government has signed off on a controversial proposal to change the way Kentucky measures selenium pollution in state waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter with its decision today.

Selenium is a naturally-occurring substance that's released into waterways during strip mining. In large amounts, it's toxic to both aquatic life and humans. The substance also bioaccumulates up the food chain, so as fish eat other fish, levels of selenium rise.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Mitch McConnell Claims Influence in Coal Decision That Was Already Made

Credit File photo

Senator Mitch McConnell is touting his role in a recent decision to keep burning coal at a Western Kentucky power plant, even though less coal will be burned—and the decision to keep burning the remainder was made months ago.

The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors voted Thursday to convert two of the three coal-burning units at its Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County to natural gas. The third unit will remain coal-fired.

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Politics
3:29 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Challenging Eastern Kentucky Leaders, Ag Commissioner James Comer Says It's Time to Look Beyond Coal

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
Credit File photo

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is challenging leaders in eastern Kentucky to accept the decline of coal production and invest in a new economy to help pull the region out of poverty.

"A lot of leaders in Eastern Kentucky keep talking about ‘coal is the answer and there is a war on coal.’ I’m a friend of coal. I support the coal industry. But the coal industry’s future doesn't look bright and we have to look beyond that and learn to develop a new economy in Eastern Kentucky," he says.

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