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Ken Ward Jr.

Staff writer
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Final EPA plan ‘a much tougher road’ for WV


West Virginia faces a requirement for tougher emissions cuts under a final federal rule aimed at curbing greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’...

Obama urges coalfield officials to support climate action


As coal industry officials and their political allies launched furious opposition to a federal effort to fight climate change, President Obama on Monday urged coalfield communities to support the plan, offering to work w...

Alpha Natural Resources hopes to restructure in bankruptcy


Alpha Natural Resources on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in a long-expected step that Alpha officials said they hoped would “enhance the company’s future as it weathers a historically challenged c...

As final EPA power-plant rule nears, some call for WV to embrace clean energy


Sometime this month — perhaps as soon as Monday — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will announce its final rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s electrical power plants.

Some UBB evidence needed in Blankenship trial, prosecutors say


Some evidence about the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster is a necessary part of the government’s criminal case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, prosecutors argue in a new legal brief filed in U.S. D...

Blankenship seeks court OK for North Carolina trip


Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is asking a federal judge for permission to take a trip to North Carolina.

In a m...

DEP urged not to further roll back chemical tank rule


Environmental groups on Thursday evening warned that West Virginia regulators appear to be further weakening new chemical-storage tank safety rules that lawmakers already rolled back with a major rewrite of a law passed ...

Judge wants Freedom bankruptcy disclosure simplified


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge on Tuesday told lawyers for Freedom Industries to simplify a disclosure statement meant to explain the bankrupt company’s current finances to its creditors, including tho...

New EPA draft adds to controversy over W.Va. selenium rule changes


Federal proposal for water pollution limits complicates state enforcement

By Ken Ward Jr.

Staff writer

Federal environmental officials on Monday issued a draft recommendation for new selenium wat...

Rulings setup trials against DuPont over C8 exposure


A federal judge last week issued the latest in a series of rulings that stopped efforts by DuPont Co. to derail the trials in the first two cases among thousands of lawsuits filed against the chemical giant by Mid-Ohio V...

Blankenship wants UBB explosion kept out of trial


Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s lawyers don’t want the jury in his criminal trial to hear any evidence about the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion or about the cause of or responsibility for the Ap...

Feds anticipate Southern will plead guilty over MCHM leak


Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to schedule a hearing so that former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern can plead guilty to charges stemming from the January 2014 chemical leak.

Assistant U.S...

Chemical board warns of ‘very serious situation’ at DuPont


U.S. Chemical Safety Board members warned Wednesday of a “very serious situation” at DuPont following the release of new information about a chemical leak that killed four workers last November in Texas and...

MSHA cites Murray Energy mine in worker death


Federal regulators have cited a Murray Energy operation following their investigation of the death earlier this year of a worker at the former McElroy Mine in Marshall County.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Admini...

Miners turn out to support DEP water rule changes


Dozens of coal miners packed a state Department of Environmental Protection public hearing to support industry-sought changes to two key West Virginia water quality standards.

The crowd of miners, mostly from Alpha...

Groups target EPA in chemical tank suit


Three citizen groups on Tuesday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try to force the EPA to write new nationwide rules regulating above-ground chemical storage tanks containing hazardous materials.


Judge gives more time on chemical leak records


A federal judge on Monday gave lawyers for Kanawha Valley residents, West Virginia American Water Co. and Eastman Chemical Co. more time to reach agreement about potentially unsealing documents in a class-action suit ove...

Hints at defense strategy emerge in Blankenship case


With the start of a much-anticipated trial in October just over two months away, lawyers for Don Blankenship are beginnin...

Pipeline builder cited in worker death


A pipeline construction contractor has been cited and fined $7,000 by federal officials following an investigation of the early January death of a worker on a project at Moundvsille.

The U.S. Occupational Safety an...

OSM proposal backs off stream ‘buffer zone’


Coal operators would have to conduct expanded monitoring and perform additional environmental restoration, but would be freed from the threat that a 32-year-old ban on mining activities within 100 feet of streams might b...

Judge pushes for deal on chemical spill documents


A federal judge has urged state agencies and parties to a lawsuit to try to come up with a deal to unseal documents that lawyers for Kanawha Valley residents say may be “critical” to the public’s und...

WV delegation cool to Obama’s coalfield plan


West Virginia’s representatives in Washington don’t sound particularly enthusiastic about the Obama administration’s proposals to fu...

OSHA labels DuPont ‘severe’ safety violator


Federal officials this week labeled DuPont Co. a “severe violator” of worker safety rules, after uncovering more safety problems in an investigation launched following a massive toxic gas leak that killed f...

Judge urged to unseal chemical spill records


Lawyers for Kanawha Valley residents are urging a federal judge to unseal hundreds of pages of documents they say would help the public understand the underlying causes of the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill and th...

Tomblin forms group to study worker safety in gas boom


Seven months after calling for a study of worker health and safety issues related to West Virginia’s natural gas drilling industry, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has named a panel that will conduct that study.


Leak reported at Institute plant


A small amount of the toxic chemical ethylene oxide leaked from a railcar Thursday morning at the Institute plant, briefly shutting down the road into the plant just as salaried employees were arriving for work, official...

Mine cleanup program could fuel coalfield recovery, groups say


Increased funding and important reforms could allow the federal government’s Abandoned Mine Lands cleanup program to fuel economic recovery in communities hard hit by the mining industry’s downturn, a coali...

Judge approves DEP cleanup deal with Freedom Industries


A federal judge on Wednesday approved a state Department of Environmental Protection deal with Freedom Industries that sets aside $2.5 million to cover the costs of a yet-to-be-designed final cleanup plan for the site of...

Limited court filings hint at spill case against Eastman, water company


Eastman Chemical Co. did not properly caution Freedom Industries about the potential for the chemical Crude MCHM to corrode Freedom’s storage tanks prior to Freedom’s January 2014 leak that contaminated the...

Freedom, DEP seek new contractor for remediation


The cleanup of the site of the January 2014 chemical spill has hit another snag, as Freedom Industries and the state Department of Environmental Protection revealed Wednesday that they are again looking for a new contrac...

As controversial spinoff occurs, DuPont sells two Belle units


DuPont Co. on Tuesday sold two units at its Belle plant to a private firm, as the chemical giant neared the expected July 1 date for the controversial spinoff of its performance chemicals unit, which includes the Belle f...

Supreme Court rules against EPA on coal emissions


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should have considered costs when it initially decided to regulate hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants, instead of waiting to examine ...

Judge refuses to disqualify Goodwin from Freedom criminal case


A federal judge has refused to disqualify U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and his staff from prosecuting two former executives from Freedom Industries on criminal charges related to the January 2014 chemical leak and its aft...

Total water main replacement would take 400 years


At its current rate of spending, West Virginia American Water Co. would need nearly 400 years to replace all of its water mains.

And that’s an improvement. Just a few years ago, West Virginia America was spe...

Meeting highlights efforts to help coalfields


ANSTED -- A team of Obama administration officials visited West Virginia this week to promote new programs and proposals to help struggling mining communities and hear about ongoing efforts by a variety of local groups t...

Industry looks to narrow Chemical Safety Board’s work


As the U.S. Chemical Safety Board struggles to regroup after President Obama pushed out its controversial chairman, industry officials are pushing to narrow the scope of or eliminate alt...

Freedom, DEP reach $2.5 million deal on spill site cleanup


State regulators have reached a deal with bankrupt Freedom Industries that will set aside $2.5 million for the cleanup of the site of the January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water supplies for hundreds...

Feds say spill chemicals toxic only at higher levels


Federal researchers studying the chemicals from the January 2014 Elk River spill said Tuesday that they have so far found evidence of potential long-term health effects only at exposures greater than the governmentȁ...

Report details path to clean energy for WV


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia could improve energy efficiency, expand renewable generation of electricity and increase its reliance on natural gas as part of an “all-of-the-above” plan to meet th...

Blankenship trial delayed to Oct. 1, moved to Charleston


A federal judge late Friday agreed to delay the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship until October.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said jury selection in the much-anticipated case will begin...

Obama still stalling chemical plan safety reforms


Nearly two years after a much-touted executive order, the Obama administration has still issued no new rules aimed at improving the safety of workers and neighbors at the nation’s chemical plants.

And while ...

Court rules against Murray, Morrisey on EPA greenhouse proposal


A federal appeals court has turned down legal challenges filed by Murray Energy and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey over the Obama administration’s proposed rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ...

EPA says new study doesn’t show fracking is safe


Despite statements from industry officials and political leaders, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials say that their new study of the nation’s natural gas boom should not be described as proof that the ...