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.

Nicole Erwin/Ohio Valley ReSource

Jimmy Tosh sells a lot of pigs. He is owner and CEO of Tosh Farms, Tosh Pork, and Bacon By Gosh, in Henry County, Tennessee, and has 84 contractedbarns in the region where farmers grow pigs for his products.

On a recent July day, Tosh craned over some 1,200 piglets and reflected on how recent market disturbances have affected his business.

 

White House Video

President Donald Trump’s desire to help boost the Ohio Valley’s energy industry and bring back mining jobs could be stymied by the administration’s escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners across the globe.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley’s auto manufacturing industry is growing increasingly nervous about the Trump administration’s trade policy. First came tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, key materials for vehicle makers. Now the Commerce Department is looking into taxes on imported automobiles and automotive parts. Both are ominous signs for an industry that employs more than 1.5 million people in the region. Ohio and Kentucky are the nation’s second and third biggest auto-making states, respectively.

Adelina Lancianese NPR

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners.

CoalProgress.com

A suit filed Wednesday in West Virginia by the Center for Biological Diversity seeks to protect threatened crayfish.

The group alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has missed the one year time frame set by federal law in which to designate habitat areas for the two crayfish species,

The Big Sandy crayfish and Guyandotte River crayfish were protected by the Endangered Species Act in 2016 because of habitat loss and water pollution.

David Mistich/WVPB

The Trump administration today released a politically charged study on the health impacts of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, including the compound known as C8, which has been detected in some water systems in the Ohio Valley.

Lisa Graves-Marcucci, Environmental Integrity Project

Curt and Debbie Havens’ ranch style home is the gathering place for their family. Their two boys grew up playing in the streets in this quiet neighborhood in West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Now, their grandchildren do the same.

“They played ball, all kinds of games,” Debbie recalled during a recent interview. Family photos and knick-knacks line the walls. One heart-shaped sign reads “May love be the heart of this home.”

 

“Everybody wants to come to grammy’s and pappy’s,” she added.

Coal Ash Uncovered: New Data Reveal Widespread Contamination At Ohio Valley Sites

Jun 18, 2018

For generations, coal power has fueled American prosperity. But for each shovelful thrown into the furnaces, a pile of ash was left in its place.

Today, as coal’s dominance in the power sector wanes, those piles of ash have grown into mountains as coal ash became one of the largest waste streams in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Special Project: Coal Ash Uncovered

Jun 16, 2018
Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal has long powered the Ohio Valley. But it left behind a legacy of waste: dozens of massive coal ash disposal sites. As the Trump administration changes the regulation of coal ash, the Ohio Valley ReSource and partner station WFPL have analyzed new data from the region’s waste sites. The analysis found widespread evidence that coal ash sites are leaking contaminants into surrounding groundwater. 

In the first of a three-part series, reporters Brittany Patterson and Ryan Van Velzer share what they found and what it might mean for nearby communities.

Steve Pavey, Hope In Focus

Anti-poverty activists say they will continue a campaign of demonstrations and civil disobedience throughout the Ohio Valley despite arrests at some events and being blocked from Kentucky’s capitol building.

The Poor People’s Campaign has rallied in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and campaign leaders returned to Kentucky Wednesday after the group was denied access at earlier demonstrations.

 

Public Radio East

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has passed it’s version of the Farm Bill with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s provisions to remove hemp from a list of Schedule 1 controlled substances. 

McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 legalizes the growing of hemp and also allows hemp cultivators to receive federal crop insurance. Lawmakers made amendments during Wednesday's Agriculture Committee meeting and passed the revised version of the bill with only one dissenting vote from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. 

White House

President Donald Trump last week told the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to stop the closures of coal and nuclear power plants in the Ohio Valley region that are no longer economical to operate.

But a number of energy analysts say the administration’s unprecedented effort to prop up struggling utilities will do little to solve their underlying problems and will likely end up costing consumers more.   

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

A new study from the Government Accountability Office finds that the federal fund supporting coal miners with black lung disease could be in financial trouble without Congressional action. As NPR has reported, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging

Bruce Parons, KVEC

Student teams from across the coalfields of eastern Kentucky came together at the Knott County Sportsplex, bringing with them drones that they themselves had built. It was time for the climax of this year-long project. A basketball court had been separated with nets, and padded gates marked a circuit course for the little flying machines.

 

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration has made good on a promise to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on some major U.S. trading partners, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Brittany Patterson

On a recent chilly Tuesday morning, about 20 people filed along a winding dirt path leading deeper into West Virginia University’s Arboretum in Morgantown.

Armed with binoculars, smartphones and hiking boots, the group had one goal — spot and identify the chittering birds hidden in the trees above.

LeJay Graffious with the Mountaineer Audubon chapter led the bird walk.

Henderson is a small city of about 30,000 people on the Ohio River. 

For most of the last 50 years, the city has run on coal power. And the coal is locally sourced: all of it comes from Western Kentucky coal fields from within a 30 miles radius. 
Henderson Mayor Steve Austin is giving a tour around downtown. He remembers growing up beside the plant. 

Rebecca Kiger

Far from the ocean and Puerto Rico’s famous beaches, narrow roads wind into mountains not unlike the country roads of our home, West Virginia. After hours of driving we reach a rural community in the island’s center called Tetuan Tres. Like so many places in rural Appalachia, you don’t come here accidentally.

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

That’s how long the farm has been in his family. While the land has turned out tobacco, soybeans and other crops over the years, since 1980 dairy has nourished the family in and out of tragedy.

EPA Administrator Faces Questions Over C-8 Report

May 16, 2018
Kentucky.com

 

EPA Administer Scott Pruitt today faced questions over recently released emails that show White House and EPA officials attempted to delay a new federal standard for toxic chemicals in drinking water. Brittany Patterson reports the chemicals includ the compound C-8 and other similar substances detected in several water systems in the Ohio Valley, 

At a Senate hearing, Republican West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito pressed Pruitt on the emails.

Dairy Farmers Look For Lifelines In Flooded Market

May 13, 2018
Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

That’s how long the farm has been in his family. While the land has turned out tobacco, soybeans and other crops over the years, since 1980 dairy has nourished the family in and out of tragedy.

Courtsey Revolution

J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” returns to his native Kentucky this week. But Vance isn’t selling books this time. He’s leading a bus tour of well-heeled venture capitalists looking for investment options in the region.

Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction crisis.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

With sunglasses perched atop his camouflage cap, Brady Carwile filled out an application at a job fair in a community center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Carwile works at a local auto parts maker but he’s hoping for a maintenance position at Century Aluminum’s Hawesville Smelter.

“It’s one of the best jobs you can find around there,” Carwile said.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

Regional iron and steel industry leaders say they are disappointed by the Trump administration’s delay on a decision about which countries will face new import tariffs. President Trump has postponed until June a decision on which countries will be subject to new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision had been due May 1.

This week in Kentucky politics, speculation flared that Kentucky’s new education leaders would try to take over Louisville’s public school district. Plus, a judge ruled that Attorney General Andy Beshear  can sue the governor over the pension bill that was signed into law earlier this month. Capitol reporter Ryland Barton has this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. 

Separating parents will get joint custody of their children by default under a bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last week. although the new law creates an exception if a parent has a recent history of domestic violence. 

Kentucky is the first state in the country to create a “legal presumption” for joint custody in divorce proceedings. 

Supporters of the measure say that joint custody allows for more stable upbringing of children, but critics argue that it unravels protections against abusive parents

Wikimedia Commons

A Hepatitis A outbreak growing in the Louisville area since last summer reached a new peak recently with a travel advisory from Indiana health officials. They told Hoosiers heading to Kentucky to get a Hep A vaccine.

Soon, Kentucky’s Acting Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Jeffrey Howard was pushing back.

Still from White House video.

“Why don’t you just fire the guy?”

The question came in a press availability with President Trump soon after he learned that federal agents, acting on information from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, had raided the offices of his personal lawyer, Robert Cohen.

The president visibly warmed to the question. Arms crossed, he answered, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

 

President Trump’s recent rhetoric has raised speculation th

New Map Shows Explosion of Fluorinated Chemical Contamination

Apr 20, 2018

 

The non-profit Environmental Working Group and a team of environmental health researchers at Northeastern University in Boston developed the map, which tracks publicly-known contaminated sites reported from both EPA testing and state and local agencies.

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