Coal

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One of the largest coal operators in the region is striking deals so that the terms of its bankruptcy can be finalized in court. One deal protects hundreds of workers while another sets aside millions for environmental cleanup.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Even in what has historically been the country’s coal-fired stronghold, coal’s share of the electricity market is declining. The drop of coal-fired electricity generation in the Southeast — and a corresponding rise in natural gas and renewables — is reflecting what’s happening to the nation as a whole.

Rebecca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

Miners in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia who helped keep the country’s lights on are worried that their retirement benefits could go dark as a result of a wave of bankruptcies in the coal industry. They hope Congress will approve a bill called the Miner’s Protection Act to shore up the pensions and health benefits promised to union miners. 

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Coal giant Murray Energy says it is not expecting to lay off any of the 4,400 coal miners in six states who recently received notice that they could lose their jobs.

Becca Schimmel, WKU Public Radio

White signs advocating for the protection of pension and healthcare benefits were waived at a United Mine Workers of America rally in Lexington Tuesday. An estimated 4,000 miners, retirees, and family members filled the city’s convention center. They gathered to demand that Congress pass legislation protecting pensions and health care benefits for miners and their families.

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The U.S Department of Labor funded a grant worth 3.4 million dollars to help retrain out-of-work coal miners in Kentucky. Shuttering coal mines has left thousands of miners without a job. 

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More than 100 coal miners from converge in southern Illinois next week to test their rescue skills. The fifth annual Mine Rescue Skills Competition is June 7 and 8 at Southeastern Illinois University in Harrisburg. 

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has scheduled meetings in Louisville and Lexington for the public to weigh in on plans by utilities Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities to shut down their coal ash ponds at several power plants. 

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Workforce development officials say  steadily increasing layoffs in the western Kentucky coalfields have picked up since November. According to the state’s latest coal report, the region lost 405 jobs in the first quarter of 2016. Webster and Hopkins counties saw the largest drops at 173 and 145 jobs respectively. 

Hillary Clinton, who is campaigning in Appalachia this week, was confronted Monday by an out-of-work coal miner. At a roundtable discussion in West Virginia, Bo Copley asked Clinton, "How you can say you're going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs and then come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend. Because those people out there don't see you as a friend."

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