Coal

Credit Flickr/Creative Commons/John Karwoski

A Hopkins County coal miner has died after a continuous miner accident.  

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.

Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The Tennessee Valley Authority is planning to close coal ash storage facilities at several of its coal-fired power plants. Coal ash is waste generated from burning coal and contains contaminants like mercury and arsenic.

Austin Ramsey, WKMS

Eleven coal miners died on the job in 2015, marking a new record low for coal mine deaths in the U.S. Two of the victims were in Kentucky.

NRDC

The massive omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last week is more than 2,000 pages long and lays out the next year of government spending.

And it also contains some unexpected Christmas presents for the hard-hit coalfields of Appalachia.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the fourth in a five-part series. Read the others here.

In the middle of the industrial German city of Essen, there’s a wall surrounding a property bigger than 100 soccer fields. This is Zollverein: two former coal mines and a coking plant, which is used to turn coal to coke for steelmaking. I’m here to see how a former coal complex has been reinvented over the past two decades into something that’s a genuine tourist attraction.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the third in a five-part series. Read the others here.

For 900 years, ships and goods have been unloaded in Hamburg, Germany’s second-biggest city and an industrial center. On a fall day, tourists stroll along the Landungsbrücken, or floating dock, watching the boats come and go.

Like in Kentucky, manufacturers in Hamburg need to know that they’ll have a large and constant supply of affordable electricity. And two very different power plants in Hamburg show the tension in Germany’s energy market.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the second in a five-part series. Read the others here.

In Western Germany, only a 45-minute drive from the tourists milling around the iconic cathedral in Cologne, miners work in three immense lignite coal mines. Machines rumble, digging the soft, brown coal out of the ground and placing it on conveyor belts.

Wikimedia Commons/Author: PixOnTrax

There is still a lot of coal in the ground in Kentucky, though it’s looking increasingly unlikely that most of it will be mined and burned.

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