DNC video

Democrats made their pitch to the American people during a largely virtual Democratic National Convention and addressing climate change emerged as a central tenet of the party’s plan. 

The party platform spells out a major investment in green energy jobs and infrastructure in order for America to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission no later than by 2050. Environmental justice is a key component of the Democrat’s climate plan and it references ensuring fossil fuel workers and communities receive investment and support during this clean energy transition.


Bobby Balthis

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is declining to issue an emergency temporary standard that could protect coal miners whose jobs make them vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

That’s according to an August 14 letter from Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. MSHA can issue emergency temporary standards only when it determines that miners are exposed to a grave danger. It has only issued a handful of such standards, MSHA said, typically in the aftermath of large-scale mining disasters. 

In the letter, Wheeler writes, “At this time, MSHA has determined it lacks evidence that COVID-19 poses a grave risk specific to miners.”

Jeff Young

A major Ohio Valley coal producer announced last week it will speed up its exit from producing coal used to generate electricity. In a call with shareholders last week, Contura Energy, Inc., said the move is tied to the ongoing global transition away from fossil fuels. 

“We recognize that the world is transitioning toward an economy that relies less on fossil fuels for power generation, and we therefore have accelerated our strategic exit from thermal coal mining,” said CEO David Stetson.

 The largest market for coal has traditionally been “thermal” coal, or that used in power stations. A smaller but lucrative market exists for “metallurgical” coal, which is used in making steel.  Executives said Contura plans to focus its operations solely on producing metallurgical and expects to be out of the thermal coal business by the end of 2022.

Sydney Boles | Ohio Valley ReSource

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. 

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was just a nondescript intersection in a nondescript bit of highway. But one year ago, this intersection played host to a two-month long protest of a kind that hadn’t been seen in coal country for decades.


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.

Coal miners who have been displaced due to the end of operations at the Poplar Grove mine in McLean County, Kentucky have an opportunity to meet with the regional Rapid Response coordinator on July 16.

McLean County Judge Executive Curtis Dame said he has heard from some miners that the mine ceased operations on July 3.

A representative for the owner of the mine, Hartshorne Mining, has not responded to a request to confirm the date or the end of operations.

Rapid Response Coordinator Michelle Drake, who is based at the Kentucky Career Center in Owensboro,  said the center is closed and meetings with displaced miners are by appointment only.

Peabody Energy via Wikimedia Commons

More than 50 Ohio Valley coal companies received loans totaling as much as $119 million through the Paycheck Protection Program meant to keep people employed during the pandemic’s economic downturn. 

Congress passed the PPP in March to help businesses keep employees on the payroll and out of unemployment lines. The data released by the Small Business Administration does not show specific dollar amounts for the loans, but rather categorizes loans into ranges such as $150,000 to $350,000 at the lowest end, and $5 million to $10 million at the upper end. 

Six Ohio Valley coal companies fell into that high-dollar category, including Rhino Energy, whose former CEO David Zatezelo currently heads the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Paringa Resources

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.

The bill, called the Moving Forward Act, includes funding for roads and bridges, rural broadband, drinking water system repairs, renewable energy, and affordable housing, all of which Democrats say would create millions of jobs and help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated he would not bring the bill to a vote, calling it “political theater” too focused on cutting carbon emissions.

No qualified buyers have been identified yet for an Australian-owned coal mine in western Kentucky that’s up for sale. 

The round of bidding by qualified buyers closed earlier this month in the sale of  Hartshorne Mining, the U.S. company operating the Poplar Grove mine in McLean County that filed for bankruptcy in February.

Hartshorne is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Paringa Resources, based in Perth, Australia.  

Hartshorne’s major lender, Tribeca Global Natural Resources, and its agent for the sale, reports that there were no qualified buyers for the mine, equipment and other assets.

The Tribeca report says that “significant headwinds have both directly and indirectly impacted the sales process.”

The Australian-owned company with a troubled coal mine in western Kentucky is suing the U.S. Small Business Administration because it didn’t get money offered to other companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has not been a good year for Hartshorne Mining, with geological and financial troubles plaguing its Poplar Grove Mine, located about 30 miles south of Owensboro, in McLean County.

The coal company is owned by Paringa Resources, based in Perth, Australia.

Brittany Patterson I Ohio Valley ReSource

Executives with Indiana-based coal company American Resources Corporation will face daily fines of $2,500 if they continue to flout court orders, according to filings in the bankruptcy case of Cambrian Coal. 

The order comes after ARC failed to pay electric utility bills, employee back pay and benefits, and other liabilities it purchased from Cambrian last fall, even after receiving millions of dollars from the federal government’s coronavirus relief aid.  

ARC must pay the daily fee if it fails to pay $1,067,736 in court-ordered payments by June 1. Executives would also have to appear in court to face additional sanctions, including possible incarceration. Incarceration for failure to pay is the highest sanction available to bankruptcy judges and is exceedingly rare.

The Australian company that owns a western Kentucky coal mine will auction off the project next month.  The mine is operating under bankruptcy protection with a reduced workforce and COVID-19 safety precautions. 

Paringa Resources, based in Perth, Australia, will offer the Poplar Grove coal mine in McLean County for sale "on or about June 17," according to the company's first quarter 2020 report.

The sale will also include the nearby undeveloped Cypress Mine and other business assets. The timeline for the sale "remains subject to change" with the approval of the federal bankruptcy court for the Western District of Kentucky. 

The Kentucky mining project, located about 30 miles south of Owensboro, is operated by Paringa’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Hartshorne Mining Group, which declared bankruptcy in February.

Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., coal mines across the country have begun shutting down, laying off workers and slowing production.

The CEO of the Australian company that owns a financially and geologically troubled coal mine in western Kentucky has resigned.

Paringa Resources announced the resignation of Egan Antill effective March 31.

Paringa’s wholly-owned subsidy, Hartshorne Mining Group, began operations at the Poplar Grove Mine in McLean County, about 30 miles south of Owensboro, in December 2018. 

Paringa has since discovered an unexpected geological fault in the region and has experienced financial trouble.

UMWA Wants More Coronavirus Protections For Coal Miners

Mar 26, 2020
Kenn W. Kiser,

The United Mine Workers of America is asking federal regulators to set uniform, enforceable guidelines to help protect coal miners from contracting COVID-19.

In a letter dated Tuesday, March 24, UMWA President Cecil Roberts wrote to the Mine Safety and Health Administration requesting the agency issue a “safeguard” or “emergency standard” that would require coal mine operators to take actions to protect miners from the coronavirus.

Union officials are requesting operators obtain N-95 respirators, set procedures for disinfecting equipment between shifts, provide extra personal protective equipment and create disinfectant strategies for bathhouses and other communal gathering places.