Climate change

Kara Lofton

A new analysis of flooding risk that accounts for the effects of climate change finds many more homes in Appalachian communities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are at risk of flooding than the federal government’s emergency managers have indicated.

In 12 Appalachian counties in the region, at least half of all residences are at risk, and in West Virginia one in five homes carry a high risk of flooding, according to an analysis of the data released by the nonprofit First Street Foundation

“In Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio — especially the Appalachian region — that risk has not been tracked properly,” said Jeremy Porter, head of research and development at First Street Foundation. Porter said the findings have implications for whether homeowners are properly insured against the risk of flooding damage. “People are not protected against the current climate environment.”

Adreanna Wills

The golden hue of the sunset shines across the sky and through the window as a woman drives down Van Meter Road in central Kentucky’s Clark County, passing by green rolling hills and hay bales.

In her social media video from early September, Adreanna Wills points out white signs in yards along the way, displaying the phrase “Industrial Solar” with a slash through the words. 

“Imagine these signs being ‘for sale’ signs in front of these properties instead of the signs demonstrating where they stand on this, because that’s probably what we’re looking at for some of these families,” said Wills, who runs the county animal shelter. 


Kyeland Jackson

When newly elected President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” 

The goal of the landmark Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015 by 189 parties, is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had something to say about that. “I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future,” Peduto tweeted in the minutes following the announcement.

 


J. Tyler Franklin

As the nation decides which party will control the Senate this November, the race in Kentucky stands out for one big reason: It features Mitch McConnell.

Loathed by Democrats across the country as a cynical power broker, but praised by Republicans as a shrewd political tactician, the GOP’s longest-serving Senate majority leader faces a challenge from a well-funded retired Marine lieutenant colonel and fighter pilot who flew in 89 combat missions, including bombings of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Erica Peterson

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.

The plan, titled “Reimagine Appalachia” envisions a future economy for the traditionally extraction-based economies of Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania that builds on the region’s other natural resources, creates well-paying jobs and positions the Ohio Valley at the forefront of addressing climate change.

Jeff Young

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction. Nearly every 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful has touted some version of the idea, ranging from the expansive “Green New Deal” championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to former Vice President Joe Biden’s more modest mix of worker training and direct assistance for coal country.

 


LRC Public Information

For more than a decade, Kentucky House Rep. Jim Gooch has denied the existence of human-driven climate change.

The Republican lawmaker from Providence has chaired the House Natural Resources and Energy committee for 20 out of the last 21 years. The committee is responsible for legislation including forestry, mining, flood control, public utilities and renewable energy.

Back in 2007, Gooch made national news for holding a hearing on climate change that didn’t include any actual scientists. Gooch’s views have moderated somewhat over the past 12 years, from outright denial to begrudging acceptance that humanity has in some ways contributed to warming.

 


Appalachia’s Strip-Mined Mountains Face A Growing Climate Risk: Flooding

Nov 22, 2019
Jack Spadaro

VARNEY, West Virginia — Pigeon Creek flows through a narrow mountain hollow along a string of coal mining communities, its water trickling under the red and yellow of the changing fall foliage.

The tranquil scene belies the devastation the creek delivered one night a decade ago as heavy rain fell on soggy soil and thousands of acres of nearby strip mines. Witnesses spoke of awakening in the dark of May 9, 2009, to the sound of rushing water like they had never heard before, entering their homes from underneath their doors.

Disastrous Disconnect: Coal, Climate And Catastrophe In Kentucky

Oct 28, 2019
Illustration by Joanna Eberts

This story is part of a series about the insufficient protections for vulnerable people as natural disasters worsen in a warming climate. The Center for Public Integrity and four partners – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource and StateImpact Oklahoma – are contributing stories.

REGINA, Ky. — Todd Bentley stepped onto his porch and saw the storm swelling the creek near his home. If this kept up all night, he feared, the creek could overflow its banks and wash out his neighborhood’s road. He headed out into the rain with his teenage son to secure his mother’s trailer across the street.


Drought Fueling Hazardous Kentucky Wildfire Season

Oct 2, 2019
U.S.Forest Service-Daniel Boone National Fores

Kentucky’s wildfire season has only just begun and already fires are scorching parts of the state including a popular tourist attraction at Red River Gorge.

Hot, dry weather over the last two months has left much of the state in a moderate to severe drought. The conditions have stripped much of the moisture from the state’s forests as leaves begin to fall from trees, creating additional fuel for fires to burn.

 


Becca Schimmel

A Western Kentucky University student is organizing a local event to coincide with the Global Climate Strikes

Jessica Williams is the main organizer and is designing her academic major around climate change. The WKU junior from Florence said the U.S. government needs to take climate change science seriously.

“We can’t wait another year, we can’t wait another month, we can’t wait another day. Something needs to happen now. And that’s why I am organizing the climate strike.” 

 

J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Matt Bevin threw shade at 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg and continued to cast doubt on the science behind man-made climate change during a meeting of the Southern States Energy Board on Tuesday.

Bevin’s comments came during a meeting of an interstate compact of officials from 16 southern states focused on energy and environment policies at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel. According to a video posted by WHAS reporter Chris Williams, Bevin said Thunberg’s climate activism is based on a lack of perspective.

 


U.S. Forest Service

Kentucky coal helped fuel the state’s prosperity for generations, but production is down, mines are going bankrupt or sitting idle and the state is left with a legacy of environmental degradation.

It’s apparent in the moonscapes of the state’s mountaintop removal coal mines, the acid mine drainage of its waterways, the coal ash leftover from burning coal for electricity and the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.


White House video

President Donald Trump Tuesday toured Shell Chemical’s soon-to-be completed ethane cracker complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania, to tout his administration’s commitment to expanding energy production. The facility is part of what industry boosters hope will be a new plastics and chemical manufacturing base in the upper Ohio Valley, but many residents here worry about the heat-trapping gases and plastic waste such an industry would produce.

Speaking to a crowd of a few thousand construction workers, Trump said investment in plastics and other petrochemical plants in the Ohio Valley could greatly benefit the region. He touted the vast reserves of natural gas and natural gas liquids contained in the Marcellus Shale, which extends throughout much of the Appalachian basin.

Brittany Patterson

Down bumpy back roads deep in central West Virginia, a flat, bright green pasture opens up among the rolling hills of coffee-colored trees.

Wildflowers and butterflies dot the pasture, but West Virginia University Professor Jeff Skousen is here for something else that stands above the rest of the Appalachian scenery – literally.

Thick stalks of green-yellowish grass reach up ten feet into the air like a beanstalk out of a fairy tale, and Skousen is dwarfed by it.


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