Ohio Valley ReSource

A regional journalism collaborative reporting on economic and social change in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seven public media outlets across the three states have partnered to form the ReSource in order to strengthen news coverage of the area’s most important issues.

Fracking Waste Disposal: Still A Hot Mess

Feb 14, 2018
Bill Hughes

The slogan for Estill County is “where the bluegrass kisses the mountains.” But since 2015 the county, population 15,000, is widely known as the place where radioactive material generated by the oil and gas industry in a process known as fracking was dumped near some schools.

Immigration Court Expansion in Ohio Valley Region

Feb 8, 2018
Stu Johnson

With Congress in a heated immigration debate, the Ohio Valley region is adding to its immigration courts. Sources within the Justice Department say Kentucky will have a new immigration court operating in Louisville as soon as April, and Ohio is adding additional judges to handle deportations and other immigration cases. The changes in immigration policy have left many people with an uncertain future.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Common

Trump Takes Enforcement Approach To Opioid Crisis

Jan 31, 2018

President Donald Trump addressed the opioid crisis affecting the Ohio Valley region in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge,” he said. “My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.”

 


Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the speed limit on work at some slaughterhouses, a move that food safety advocates are calling a victory for workers and consumers. 

Still from White House

Trump got a warm welcome from the farm bureau crowd. Farm country likes his promises to reduce regulation. But on trade, many growers are growing nervous. Smith thinks it is too early to see a direct impact from Trump’s first year in office, and he’s hopeful but nervous about Trump’s tough talk on NAFTA.

 

 

In Wake Of School Shooting, A Look At How Kids Get Guns

Jan 25, 2018
Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Heather Adams sat in a line of cars along Kentucky Route 95, cars filled with parents who had just received the call no parent wants to get: A shooting at her child’s school, Marshall County High in Benton, Kentucky. Two 15-year-old students were killed and another 18 injured.  

Adams was waiting anxiously to pick up her children, a 15-year-old and a ten-year-old. Both were safe and so she could relax enough to talk a bit. Earlier, she was at the high school with other frantic parents looking for answers about their children. 

 


Opioid Emergency Extended

Jan 22, 2018
Mary Meehan

Acting Health And Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan signed an order Friday to extend the public health emergency for 90 days. A post on the agency’s website, cited the continued consequences of the opioid crisis.


Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an Augustrally in Huntington, West Virginia.

Mary Meehan

A small gaggle of reporters points their microphones at reproductive rights activist Marcie Crim as she bluntly decries  the shrinking access to abortion in the region. Crim stands just a few feet from the open door of the office of Governor Matt Bevin near the Capitol rotunda. Crim and Bevin may be physically close in in this situation, but they could not be further apart on the issue.They personify the opposing poles of the decades-old debate surrounding abortion.

Bevin has been vocally supportive of legislative restrictions on abortion access such as longer waiting periods.

Analysis Shows Toxic Sites In Flood Zone

Jan 2, 2018
Wikipedia Commons User Markzvo

The Ohio Valley has long been home to some of the dirtiest industries in the nation. Coal, plastics, and chemical plants and their waste sites dot our river valleys. Even those no longer operational leave their legacy in the soil and water.

Distler Farm sits just on the outskirts of Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Its pastoral name is misleading. During the 1970s it served as a landfill for liquid waste, including medical and agricultural refuse.

Kentucky Power customers expressed frustration with proposed rate increases.
Mimi Pickering/WMMT

One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission.

Angie Hatton, a state legislator representing Letcher and Pike counties, presented the situation in historical terms. “This community that for two centuries has been powering our nation, we’re now struggling to keep our own lights on.”

 


NAS To Fund Halted Mining Study

Dec 22, 2017

The National Academy of Sciences says it is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. As Jeff Young reports the Trump administration cited budget concerns when it ordered a halt to the study.

The National Academy of Sciences says it is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. 

 

National Academies spokesperson Riya Anandwala says there has been no further information on the budget review and the study has remained on hold since August.

From C-Span Video

Mary Meehan

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.

Some Rare Good News Concerning Opioids

Dec 14, 2017
Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

A survey put out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis. As Aaron Payne reports, fewer teenagers are using opioid drugs.

The Monitoring the Future Survey results shows a continued decrease of opioid misuse by teens.

National Institute of Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow says this is encouraging news as overdose and addiction rates continue to rise for adults.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

 

  

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.

LBJ Library

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.

 

 

 

In the wake of the hearings the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted in West Virginia last week, the agency has decided to schedule more public hearings about the repeal of the Clean Power Plan - carbon regulations that aimed to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Kenn Fisher, 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.

 


Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency returned to friendly terrain in coal country this week for two days of public hearings on its proposal to repeal a key federal rule aimed at reducing pollution that contributes to climate change.

Last month EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt chose an eastern Kentucky mining town as the venue to announce his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule that sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

 


Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

A group of about 30 coal miners in work apparel complete with hardhats sat in one of the three hearing rooms to hear their boss, Bob Murray. Murray is CEO of the Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy, and a leading opponent of the Clean Power Plan. He applauded EPA’s decision to repeal the regulation.

“God bless President Trump, and you coal miners,” Murray said. “I love you, fellas. God bless you.”

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Napoleon famously said that an army marches on its stomach. Troops must be fed in order to fight. But what happens when that army faces hunger after marching back home?  

Federal statistics show tens of thousands of U.S. military veterans struggle with homelessness, hunger and food insecurity.

As the holiday season approaches, a pilot program in the Ohio Valley aims to serve those who served their country.


Nicole Erwin/Ohio Valley ReSource

Roberto Gonzales and six other workers came from Nayarit, Mexico, to work on a Garrard County, Kentucky, tobacco farm using a guest worker program called the H-2A visa

The Department of Labor program guarantees a wage in Kentucky of $10.92 an hour. But Gonzales said the workers were only getting between $3 and $8 per hour. So they went on strike


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. 

Carbon Capture Reconsidered: Big-Ticket Climate Fix Gets A Fresh Look

Nov 13, 2017

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for technology known as carbon capture and storage.

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.”


Striking Migrant Farm Workers Win Settlement

Nov 8, 2017

After about three weeks on strike, a group of migrant workers employed at a tobacco farm in Gerrard County, Kentucky have reached a settlement with the farm’s owner.

The workers came from Mexico under the H2A visa program, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal farm work. The Department of Labor program also sets a minimum wage for the workers and requires the employer to provide for costs associated with the work, such as work supplies and travel to and from the farm.

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.


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