Ohio Valley ReSource

WKU Public Radio is part of a new regional journalism collaborative known as the Ohio Valley ReSource.  It's made up of public media stations across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.  The collaborative will focus on the changing economy in the region and its effect on jobs, healthcare and infrastructure. 

Each station taking part in the Ohio Valley ReSource is hiring a reporter to contribute to the effort.  WKU Public Radio's reporter is Becca Schimmel, who will be based in the Bowling Green newsroom. 

The Ohio Valley ReSource is made possible by member stations and through a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. 

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Vivian Stockman and Southwings

The prestigious National Academy of Sciences is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining after the Trump administration ordered a halt to the scientific work.

The panel of scientists assembled by the National Academies was months into a study of the health effects of surface mining when the Trump administration’s Interior Department told them to stop work.  


c-span

The Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget has announced a review of an Obama-era rule that protects coal miners from exposure to the dust that causes black lung disease.

That has some health and safety advocates concerned. The review comes amid a tide of regulatory rollbacks by the Trump administration and at a time that black lung disease is on the rise in Appalachian coal country.


Larry Dowling, WVPB

Throughout coal mining country of the Eastern U.S. you will find streams that run a peculiar rusty orange. It’s the result of pollution called acid mine drainage, or AMD. It’s estimated that about 10,000 miles of streams are polluted by AMD in Pennsylvania and West Virginia alone. In fact, researchers have calculated that every second, coal mines throughout the region are pumping out about 3,000 cubic feet of AMD. That’s roughly equal to an average May day’s flow of water in the Monongahela River as it winds through the region.


Survey Finds Teen Use Of Opioids Declining

Dec 17, 2017
Mary Meehan

A survey produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis: fewer teenagers reported using opioids outside of medical purposes.

The Monitoring the Future Survey 2017 results show a continued trend in decreased misuse of opioids by teens that dates to the early 2000s.

Office of Sen. Brown

Retired union coal miners are joining teamsters, iron workers and other union retirees in an effort to shore up their ailing pension plans, and they hope the ticking clock on a government spending bill will help.

Some Democrats want to see protections for retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill, which Congress must pass in order to prevent a government shutdown. That could set up a year-end showdown over the spending bill, with major implications for retirees in the Ohio Valley region.


Benny Becker

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

Just a few feet from the garage door at the back of the room, there’s a vertical rock face. It’s all coal from the ground up at least ten feet. Coal here can be a reminder of the past — of the time when this land that the school sits on was blasted flat by miners; of times when coal jobs were plentiful here in eastern Kentucky.


LBJ Library/public domain

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stood in front of the state’s capitol to rally the roughly 120 coal miners and industry boosters gathered there.

“The fight against the unlawful Clean Power Plan started in Charleston, West Virginia,” Morrisey said, noting the state’s role in a legal challenge to the Obama-era rule.


DEA Beefs Up Ohio Valley Opioid Enforcement

Nov 29, 2017
CSpan

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday enhanced federal enforcement targeting opioids in the Ohio Valley region, including a new Drug Enforcement Administration field division in Louisville.  

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Sessions said the Louisville field division will be the first new DEA division established in 20 years. He said it will have about 90 special agents and 130 task force officers focusing on drug trafficking in the Appalachian region

Glynis Board

Last month the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt chose an eastern Kentucky mining town as the venue to announce his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule that sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday the agency returned to coal country to conduct its only public hearing on the matter in Charleston, West Virginia.


Changing Course: A School Cooperative Aims To Remake Coal Communities

Nov 27, 2017
Benny Becker

Betsy Layne High School serves rural Floyd County in the eastern Kentucky town of Stanville, population 206. Students there produce a video program called “Bobcat Banter” where they usually talk about sports and student life. But early last year “Bobcat Banter” introduced some special guests.

“We’re here with Mr. and Mrs. Gates from the Gates Foundation,” the students said.

The world’s richest man and his partner in life and philanthropy, Melinda Gates, had dropped in for a chat.

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.”


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