coal mining

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State inspections of Kentucky’s underground mines would be eliminated under a bill approved by the state senate on Thursday. Supporters say the measure reduces duplication of federal mine assessments. 

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Nearly $70 million in federal funds is now available for coal mining communities across the country. The Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced the funding on Thursday. 

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Leaders from the state’s coal-producing regions want counties to receive a greater share of coal severance tax revenue. Revenue from the severance tax is split evenly between the state and counties and has declined as a result of Kentucky’s flagging coal industry.

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Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet secretary is not expecting any short term rebound in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. Charles Snavely appeared before the senate’s natural resources committee this week. 

Todd Hatton, WKMS

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers is sponsoring a bill that could send a billion dollars back to coal-producing states to help with economic development.

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Kentucky’s coal industry shed more jobs and production during the last quarter of 2015, according to new data released today.

Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.

The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.

The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.

Joe Moore stood near a sign reading: "Authorized Personnel Only."

"I used to be authorized," he said.

Moore is a coal miner. The sign was at the entrance to the mine that had laid him off the previous day. The Alliance Coal facility had closed — a symptom of the coal industry's rapid decline.

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In a new final rule this week the Mine Safety and Health Administration is requiring underground coal mines to equip their continuous mining machines with proximity detectors that give a warning and shut down the equipment when a miner gets too close.

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Mining companies can’t sue individual government inspectors for damages, according to a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued late last month.

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