coal mines

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Kentucky regulators are looking for proposals to spur economic development on Appalachia’s abandoned surface mines.

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A bill that would eliminate state inspections of Kentucky coal mines is headed to the full senate. The measure was heard Wednesday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

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Local mining operations are being recognized for their reclamation and safety practices by the state and the Kentucky Coal Association.  

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  Kentucky’s coal industry has recorded another dismal quarter, where both coal jobs and production have declined across the state.

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  A federal judge in Colorado has ruled the federal government should have taken the indirect environmental effects of expanding the Colowyo and Trapper coal mines into account before issuing a permit. These “indirect effects” include the environmental toll of burning the coal in power plants. But because of differences in the way western and eastern coal mines are regulated, it’s hard to say what effect, if any, this ruling could have on Appalachian mines.

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An Alliance coal mine in Hopkins County is set to close in early 2016 as the Elk Creek site runs out of coal. But Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation President Gerald Cook says it’s likely the closure won’t have a big impact on the community.

Among the mining executives that NPR investigated, one coal mine owner in West Virginia stands out. His mines owe nearly $2 million in overdue fines, while he, himself, is a prominent billionaire.

Jim Justice is West Virginia's richest man, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. He owns 70 active mines employing 1,200 miners in five states. In addition to running his businesses, he has invested or given away more than $200 million in the last five years.

Jack Blankenship was pinned facedown in the dirt, his neck, shoulder and back throbbing with pain.

He was alone on an errand, in a dark tunnel a mile underground at the Aracoma Alma coal mine in Logan County, W.Va., when a 300-pound slab of rock peeled away from the roof and slammed him to the ground. As his legs grew numb, he managed to free an arm and reach his radio. For two hours, he pressed the panic button that was supposed to bring help quickly.

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Coal miners who work in small mines are more than twice as likely to contract the most serious form of black lung disease, according to a new federal study. 

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A Canadian coal mining company has reached a settlement with the federal government over Clean Water Act violations at several former mining sites in Western Kentucky.

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