coal mining

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Workers at two Western Kentucky coal mines are preparing to be laid off in the coming days. 

The Genesis Mine in Centertown previously announced it would close Feb. 24, but Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston said on Tuesday that Saturday is expected to be the last day of operation. 

Two informational sessions will be held in Muhlenberg County on Wednesday for the 250 workers at that Genesis mine.


Wikimedia Commons

McLean County is bracing for an economic hit with the planned closure of a coal mine. 

Amid declining coal prices and industry changes, Pennyrile Energy’s Riveredge Mine in Calhoun will cease operations this fall.  The mine opened in 2014 and produced 1.3 million tons of coal last year

McLean County Judge-Executive Ed West says the mine paid some employees $25 an hour.

While "Zombie" Mines Idle, Cleanup And Workers Remain In Limbo

Sep 5, 2019
Mark Olalde

The sound of metal banging against metal broke the calm on the high mesa separating Colorado’s Paradox and Big Gypsum valleys. An old rusted headframe marked the entrance to an abandoned uranium mine that, from a distance, looked as if its workers were simply off on a lunch break.

Jennifer Thurston, a local environmentalist, paused at the edge of the dirt road, wondering what caused the noise. Then she walked closer, finding ample evidence of the site’s long disuse. Ore sat in a hopper, likely untouched since the mine — known as Van 4 — last produced in 1989. Any loose metal and wiring had long since been stripped from two buildings, one of which looked ready to collapse.

Sydney Boles

Kentucky’s labor secretary is defending his agency’s handling of the Blackjewel fallout.  The company abruptly declared bankruptcy in July, putting hundreds of coal miners out of work and paying them with cold checks. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear last week accused the Labor Cabinet of negligence for not enforcing a law that would have paid the miners.  Coal companies operating in Kentucky five years or less are supposed to pay a performance bond that equals four weeks of pay for its employees if the mine closes. 

Labor Secretary David Dickerson says that under existing law, the Labor Cabint can’t force a mining company to pay.  It can only issue fines, which some companies rather pay than comply with the order.  He refutes Beshear’s claims that the Labor Cabinet has been negligent in bringing other companies into compliance.


Vivian Stockman and Southwings

Residents of Appalachian coal communities told a Congressional subcommittee Tuesday that the controversial mining practice known as mountaintop removal should be halted until its health effects are better studied.

Late in the Obama administration the National Academy of Sciences launched a study into the health effects for communities near mountaintop removal coal mines.

Donna Branham of Lenore, West Virginia, was among the many residents with questions and concerns about effects on air and water quality. She was hopeful the National Academy study would bring some answers. But in the summer of 2017 the Trump administration’s Interior Department abruptly canceled funding and ordered the National Academy to halt the study.

A Warrick County coal mine in southern Indiana will shut down this spring, affecting more than 80 employees. 

In a notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, White Stallion Energy of Evansville says surface mine operations at Liberty Mine in Boonville will shut down on April 5, though the company says the date may change "depending on business circumstances."

Sydney Boles

Nancy and Rich Potter had the kind of marriage that made other couples jealous. He’d take her on spontaneous trips. She’d wear her Daisy Dukes just for him.

Joyce Birman said her late husband, George, made a terrible first impression. It was his apology for it that made her fall for him, hard.

Vickie Salyers’ husband, Gene, loved hunting and fishing, but he loved being a father and grandfather most of all.

Potter, Birman and Salyers all married eastern Kentucky coal miners. And like countless Appalachian women before them, they each watched as their loved ones became ill.


Sydney Boles

The rain started around 10:30 p.m. By midnight, the creek in front of Elvis and Laura Thackers’ house had swelled to a mighty flood, uprooting trees, moving boulders and surging right up to the couple’s front steps. The Thackers decided to abandon their home. But when they got into their Jeep, they found the flood had washed the road away, leaving them trapped.

“Water was everywhere,” Laura Thacker remembered. “I said, ‘You don’t know how big it’s going to get.’”


SkyTruth

An area roughly the size of Delaware has been mined for coal in Appalachia using mountaintop removal, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers from Duke University and nonprofit organizations SkyTruth and Appalachian Voices developed an open-source mapping tool drawing on satellite imagery. The new data show the amount of land disturbed by mountaintop removal mining across Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia between 1985-2015.


Adelina Lancianese

Western Kentucky District U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman didn’t hide his emotion when announcing federal charges against a coal company for faking coal dust samples.

“This is one of those that just made me angry, it just made me angry to see the impact on these miners,” Coleman said.

 

Coleman unsealed indictments Wednesday against eight employees of the now-bankrupt Armstrong Energy coal company for falsifying dust monitoring samples in two of its Kentucky mines.


Coal Miner Killed in Kentucky's First Fatality of 2018

Mar 28, 2018
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Kentucky recorded its first coal mining death of the year when a 29-year-old miner was killed in a conveyor belt accident in an underground Harlan County mine.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says Hubert Grubbs was working in the D11 Panther Mine in Cumberland. He was splicing a conveyor belt early Wednesday morning when it started unexpectedly, causing fatal injuries.

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A board that was ostensibly responsible for reviewing coal miners’ training and reviewing all proposed coal mine safety regulations will hold its last meeting next week.

The Kentucky Mining Board consisted of eight members — three from labor, three representing coal industry management, one citizen and one state regulator. In pushing for the board to be abolished, the state Energy and Environment Cabinet said its responsibilities were duplicated, and would be distributed among other agencies and commissions. But mine safety advocates worry the move will end up harming the state’s approximately 6,000 remaining coal miners.

The Kentucky Mining Board has been in existence for decades, but was reorganized by Gov. Paul Patton in 2001. It was abolished by a bill that passed the legislature earlier this year, with little discussion or fanfare. The bill flew under the radar — so much so that board members weren’t aware the board had been dismantled until receiving a letter last week.

Southwings and Vivian Stockman

Congress is enacting a little-used provision this week to turn back Obama-era regulations on coal mining near streams. The House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would block the Stream Protection Rule, and the Senate is expected to do the same Wednesday evening or Thursday.

House and Senate Republicans are targeting the Stream Protection Rule using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to block new rules that aren’t passed by Congress within 60 days of them going into effect. The Obama Administration spent eight years writing the rule, which is an updated version of a Bush-era regulation, but it wasn’t finalized until late December.

Erica Peterson

Two bills before the Kentucky House would change the way the state taxes coal that’s left in the ground.

The “unmined minerals tax” applies to minerals such as coal, gas, oil and limestone that aren’t currently being extracted.

The owner of the mineral rights pays taxes to the state every year. And that adds up to a substantial amount: In 2014, Kentucky collected more than $39 million from this tax. Most of that — $34 million — went to the individual counties where the minerals are. The remainder went to the state.

But with the decline of the coal industry, less coal is being mined in Eastern Kentucky. And when it’s not economical to mine the coal, mineral rights owners are still stuck paying taxes on coal they may never extract.

That’s why two Eastern Kentucky legislators — Democratic state Reps. Fitz Steele and John Short — have introduced separate bills to change that tax.

Environmental activists and eastern Kentucky residents are heading to the state Capitol next week to protest surface mining in Appalachia.

The annual protest in Frankfort is called "I Love Mountains Day." Now in its 10th year, it attracts hundreds of protesters to the steps of the state Capitol building.

Organizers say they are protesting the destructive effects of mountaintop removal coal mining in eastern Kentucky. The mining practice uses blasting and earth movers on mountaintops to get at coal seams.

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