Ohio Valley ReSource

MSHA

The U.S. Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, 52 to 46, to narrowly confirm President Trump’s  nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. The country’s top mine safety position has been vacant since January as coal mining fatalities have risen to a two-year high. Trump’s choice to fill the post is facing opposition from congressional Democrats and safety advocates. 


Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for technology known as carbon capture and storage. The lawmakers and an uncommon alliance of labor, business, and environmental groups want to pass legislation called the FUTURE Act which would speed commercial deployment of technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from industries that burn fossil fuels.

Such technology has been in development for decades. Today, a number of projects show various methods are possible to “scrub” CO2 from the waste stream and store it underground. However, it is still prohibitively expensive to scale up those projects to the level needed to affect the global output of carbon pollution.


Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

At a conference last year on the region’s opioid crisis, journalist Sam Quinones presented a call to action to Northern Kentucky University.

Quinones is author of the influential book on the opioid crisis, “Dreamland,” and a tireless speaker on the topic. At conferences and other events in the Ohio Valley he frequently makes a plea: create an addiction research hub among regional institutions affected by the epidemic.

NKU decided to give it a shot.

“We looked and saw who was doing any kind of research related to health,” Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh said. “We sent an invitation for them to come to campus last December and to start to talking about opioid addiction and the possibility of forming a consortium.”


Mary Meehan

Hundreds of kids scurrying to buses are oblivious to a sign above them declaring Bourbon County High School “100 percent Tobacco Free.” But upstairs in the library, sophomore and anti-smoking advocate Jacob Steward unfurls a six-foot scroll with earth-toned papers trapped between clear sheets of laminate. He begins reading the anti-smoking slogans he’ll post around the school.

“E-cigs pose threat to health and turn kids into addicts and gives big tobacco your money,” he said. “E-cigs, neither water, vapor or harmless.”


Michael Durham, Bat Conservation International

Bats have a bit of an image problem. You probably saw some Halloween decorations recently featuring flying, fanged creatures of the night. But conservationists say bats are actually very helpful animals, saving farmers in the Ohio Valley region alone hundreds of millions of dollars simply by eating harmful insects.

Now bats need some humans to return the favor and help to halt the spread of a deadly disease.

 

The bat disease called White Nose Syndrome was first spotted in New York about ten years ago and researchers say it is rapidly moving across the country decimating many bat populations.

Mary Meehan

Roxanne Schwartz, of Lebanon, New Jersey, told a story to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Wednesday that could easily resonate with parents in the Ohio Valley.

Her two sons were denied by insurance companies when seeking treatment for conditions related to opioid use disorder.

“We have spent over $300,000 in the last seven years,” she said. “We borrowed against our home, cashed out our college savings accounts and withdrew money from our retirement fund.”

White House video

As bad as the opioid epidemic is across the nation, it is even worse here in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have a rate of opioid-related deaths that is more than twice the national average.

Last year 5,306 people died from opioid overdoses in the three states -- 15 deaths a day. That means that 13 percent of all opioid deaths in the nation occurred in a region with just over 5 percent of the country’s population.


Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

President Donald Trump outlined on Thursday his long-awaited plan to address the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency. Part of that plan was based on experiences in the Ohio Valley region.

In an address at the White House Thursday both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump mentioned efforts in the Ohio Valley region to help infants affected by the crisis.

Trump said that a hospital nursery in West Virginia treats one in every five babies for symptoms of addiction.

Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

Many lawmakers from the Ohio Valley region are expected at the White House Thursday as President Donald Trump delivers an address on the opioid crisis.

It is still not clear when the president will unveil a long-awaited emergency declaration on the epidemic. The president called opioid addiction “an emergency” in early August, and a White House spokesperson indicated at the time that "expedited legal review" of an emergency declaration was underway. However, two months have passed without action on the matter.

In an interview Wednesday evening Trump indicated the emergency declaration will come "next week." The president is scheduled to speak on the opioid crisis Thursday afternoon at the White House.


USDA/Bob Nichols

After serving five years in the Navy Tyler Dunn has returned home to Hickman, Kentucky. These days, if he isn’t at work at the local liquor store or completing assignments for a business degree, you might find him surrounded by one of several stray cats he saved from a parking lot.

It’s hard to reconcile this image of Dunn -- military veteran, serious student, and sensitive pet owner -- with another fact about his life. Nearly ten years ago he was fired by Tyson Foods, in Union, Tennessee, for animal cruelty. 


Becca Schimmel

Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC.

Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky, for about 15 years. Daulton said her daughter would like for her to move closer to Bowling Green, but Daulton likes her community and has no intention of leaving.


Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to end the Clean Power Plan is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to support the struggling coal industry. The Department of Energy is also pushing a new way to subsidize coal power. But a new study suggests market forces -- not regulations -- will still make more coal power plants in the region vulnerable.

Ohio Valley lawmakers and industry leaders overwhelmingly support the move to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Chris Hamilton of the West Virginia Coal Association says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement is welcomed relief.


Matewan (1987) Dir. John Sayles; Alexandra Kanik

Thirty years ago the premiere of a small-budget, independent film had an outsized effect on how many people in Appalachian coal country thought about their region and their past.

“Matewan,” directed by John Sayles, depicted a bloody chapter in the fight to organize coal miners in the 1920s, exploring themes of class struggle and pacifism in a style that evoked classic Western movies. The film earned an Academy Award nomination for its cinematography and helped establish some of its actors, including David Straithairn, Mary McDonnell and Chris Cooper.


Becca Schimmel

A bipartisan Congressional group from the Ohio Valley and beyond introduced a new bill to save pensions for retired union coal miners throughout the region.

The American Miners Pension Act, or AMP, would secure pensions for about 43,000 miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia whose retirement benefits have been undermined by the decline of the coal industry.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Congress acted to protect miners’ health benefits last year but pensions got kicked down the road.


Wikipedia

When health care and law enforcement officials met recently at a health policy forum in Lexington, Kentucky, to share ideas about the opioid crisis, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear listed some groups that have benefited from money won in a 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

“We had Freedom House in Louisville and Independence House in Corbin. We had the Chrysalis House in here in Lexington. Hope in the Mountains, that was going to have to shut down, in Prestonsburg,” he said.

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