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.

Robert McGraw / WOUB

 

The true costs of the deep cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would fall disproportionately on many of the poor and working class people in the Ohio Valley region who helped to elect him, according to lawmakers and policy analysts.


  As Congress considers repealing the Affordable Care Act, health professionals in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia grapple with what that might mean for a region where many depend on the law for access to care. This occasional series from the ReSource explores what’s ahead for the Ohio Valley after Obamacare. See more stories here >>

 

Trump administration officials have been visiting parts of the country affected by the opioid addiction crisis, including the Ohio Valley region. The administration called it a “listening tour,” and they got an earful in events marked by protests and controversies.


Mending Mining Country: Three Ways Trump Could Help Miners And Coal Communities

May 16, 2017
From White House video

At a March ceremony to sign an executive order reversing Obama-era environmental regulations, coal miners were arranged on stage around President Donald Trump as he took up his pen.

“You know what it says, right?” Trump asked the miners. “You’re going back to work.”

From his campaign rallies to White House events, President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with coal miners and promised to restore their collapsed industry.


Can coal make a comeback? That’s the title of a new report from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Researchers there analyzed the factors leading to the coal industry’s sharp decline over the past six years and assessed the Trump administration’s efforts to revive it.  


Mary Meehan - Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley’s addiction crisis has brought another health problem, as rising numbers of needle drug users are contracting a serious form of heart infection called endocarditis.

The rate of endocarditis doubled in the region over a decade, and many patients require repeated, expensive treatment and surgery as they return to drug use and once again become infected.  


Retired miners will not lose their health benefits, as had been feared, thanks to last-minute action from Congress. However, Congress did not act on the miners’ faltering pension benefits fund, which supports some 43,000 retired miners in the Ohio Valley region.

Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

By most measures, health outcomes in the Ohio Valley region are not very good, with many parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia ranking near the bottom among states.

But a team of health researchers may have found a few places within the region that stand out. They see them as potential “bright spots” — places with some health measures better than expected for the region. 


Alexandra Kanik - Ohio Valley ReSource

Hunger Gains: Budget Cuts Imperil Nutritious Food Aid

Apr 18, 2017

At a moment when food aid agencies are working to provide healthier food to the poor and the elderly, President Donald Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in funding for the agriculture programs that support them.

It’s a move that advocates say is bad for people who need food and local farmers who provide it.

How Asian Politics Could Affect U.S. Coal

Apr 12, 2017
Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

With Australia coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and China turning back imports of coal from North Korea this week as apparent punishment for missile tests, U.S. coal exporters are hoping for a boost.

But analysts aren’t predicting a coal comeback. 


Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Farmers in the Ohio Valley are waiting to see how President Trump’s choice to lead the Agriculture Department might affect their fortunes. Concerns over trade have held up a confirmation vote for nominee Sonny Perdue, and trade is also on the minds of regional growers.

 

Farmers here have been big winners under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and while farm country voted overwhelmingly for Trump, his talk about scrapping NAFTA has farmers like Jed Clark nervous.
  

Benny Becker - Ohio Valley ReSource

Federal health researchers are visiting health clinics and medical schools in the Appalachian coalfields to recruit allies in the fight a resurgence of Black Lung Disease.

The worst form of the disease may affect as many as 5 percent of experienced working miners in the region, and the researchers fear that rate could be even higher among retired miners.  


CVI

When President Donald Trump visited Kentucky for a recent rally he returned to a common theme from his campaign: environmental regulations are job-killers.

“I have already eliminated a devastating anti-coal regulation,” he said, referring to a measure he recently signed overturning a Department of Interior stream protection rule. “And that is just the beginning,” the president continued, pledging to turn the Environmental Protection Agency “from a job killer into a job creator.”

A bipartisan group of legislators has asked President Donald Trump to make more money available for black lung health clinics as they face an increase in cases of the disease among coal miners.  

More than 20 clinics would benefit from the $3.3 million increase lawmakers are requesting. The clinics provide miners with health screenings, medical care, and assistance in securing black lung benefits.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the White House budget director that the level of funding for clinics has been frozen for the past five years.  

Trump Undermines Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Mar 29, 2017
Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

Coal country’s economic woes took center stage at the Environmental Protection Agency as President Donald Trump signed an executive order to undo parts of President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

The president was flanked by coal workers and industry figures and defenders, such as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Ohio-based coal operator Bob Murray, filled the room during the signing ceremony. 

Benny Becker - Ohio Valley ReSource

Danny Ferguson didn’t like what he saw happening in Lincoln County, West Virginia, where he grew up. The downturn in the coal industry had hit hard, and young people had few job options beyond some fast food places.

“We don’t have nothing else for them to be employed,” Ferguson said. “Lincoln County is in bad shape and Coalfield seemed like the only one willing to take a chance in that area.”

Miners' Message To Trump: Protect Benefits

Mar 20, 2017

President Donald Trump’s campaign-style rally in Louisville got the attention of some retired coal miners in the region. They’re particularly worried about being able to afford health insurance on a new plan.

Todd Lappin via Flicker

Note: Some readers may find this subject matter disturbing.

When Beth Jacobs was 16 years old, she needed a ride home. She had missed her bus after work again after promising her father she was responsible enough not to make it a habit. She asked a man she thought was a friend to give her a lift. He offered her a drink from his car’s cup holder. She took a sip and woke up in a parking lot hours later.

Lawmakers in both Kentucky and West Virginia are working to loosen mine safety regulations. From the Ohio Valley ReSource, Glynis Board has details.

Rebecca Kiger

As President Trump promises major investment in infrastructure, people across the country are hoping that includes spending on water pipes for drinking.

Flint, Mich., was a high-profile example of the many communities — like one in Eastern Kentucky — where people just can't trust their water.

Rebecca Kiger

The Road To Recovery

On a recent gray winter morning Tomas Green drove the rain slick streets of Ranson in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. No matter the weather, Green helps transport clients working through addiction at the Jefferson Day Report Center get to their treatment sessions and meetings.


 As Congress considers repealing the Affordable Care Act, health professionals in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia grapple with what that might mean for a region where many depend on the law for access to care. This occasional series from the ReSource explores what’s ahead for the Ohio Valley

after Obamacare. See more stories here >>

The health care sector has grown by more than 19,000 jobs in the Ohio Valley region. And some economists who focus on health care policy are warning that many of those jobs could well hang in the balance as Congress considers changes to the Act.

Mountain Comprehensive Care Corportation

Mike Caudill runs Mountain Comprehensive Care Corporation in five eastern Kentucky counties. Many of his 30,000 patients gained insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. No one knows if or when those folks might lose coverage. But, Caudill said, the impact could be considerable.   


Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley region once helped give rise to the labor movement. Now it’s shifting toward what’s known as right-to-work law. West Virginia and Kentucky have passed right-to-work laws and Ohio is considering a similar bill.

DuPont Offers $670M Settlement For 'Teflon' Chemical Contamination Of Water

Feb 13, 2017

The chemical giant DuPont made an offer Monday to pay more than half-a-billion dollars to settle water contamination lawsuits pending in federal court.

Mary Meehan/Ohio Valley ReSource

Dona Wells walked through what’s left of the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Boxes fill what use to be offices. Sterilized medical supplies are in disarray. A light flickers on and off in the back hallway. She doesn’t see a point in fixing it. At 75, she still runs 25 miles a week, but Wells is tired.

“I was going to retire anyway, probably this year,” she said. But I wanted to do it on my terms, not Gov. Bevin’s terms.”

 

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

 

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

Mary was using when she learned she was pregnant with her first child. She sought treatment but the disease had a tight grip on her.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

 On any given day in Martin County, Kentucky, the water system loses more water to leaks than it delivers to paying customers through their faucets. The water system is under a state investigation for the third time since 2002. Customers complain of frequent service interruptions and discolored water, and their bills come with a notice that drinking the water could increase the risk of cancer.

Pages