Coal Mining

Many natural gas drilling companies use treated water from abandoned coal mines for fracking, but that number is decreasing due to questions on liability issues, according to Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Greene, Washington).

Retired coal miners will gather around Consol Energy Center Monday to protest the revocation of health benefits for more than 1,200 retired workers.

In December 2013 Consol sold five coal mines to Murry Energy. With the sale Murry acquired $2.1 billion in employee retirement benefits, but only committed to paying for one year of health care. Now both companies are refusing to honor the benefits.

In Coal Country, What's Next for Miners?

Apr 10, 2015
Catherine Moore / For the Allegheny Front

At a fire hall in Logan County, West Virginia, dozens of coal miners and their families are mulling around a room. State officials called this meeting to help them figure out what to do next after the coal mine they worked in closed. Dell Maynard is one of these miners. His primary emotion right now is shock.

In the West, Coal's Boom Resonates Across the Land

Apr 3, 2015
U.S. Geological Survey

Driving south of Gillette, Wyoming, through an arid and austere landscape once home to herds of bison, you pass coal mine after coal mine, for 70 uninterrupted miles, carving deep troughs into the prairie.

Resolving the Backlog for Black Lung Disease Care

Aug 26, 2014
LeRoy Woodson / National Archives and Records Administration

U.S. Senator Bob Casey is laying out a plan to reduce a claims backlog that has impacted residents throughout the region. He recently chaired a hearing to explore the challenges that former coal miners are dealing with.

Dr. Kevin Gibson of the UPMC Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine department explains that although the term “black lung disease” is the popular name for the disease, it “doesn’t really capture how we think of the disease in the medical field.” According to him, black lung is more accurately described as two different types of disease.

“Simple pneumoconiosis is a problem where you develop very, very tiny nodules in the lung, which, generally speaking, are not associated with much in the way of symptoms. The severe disease, the serious disease, is what we call complex pneumoconiosis, or another term we use to describe it is progressive massive fibrosis. Those patients usually go on to respiratory failure, and those are the folks that usually die from the disease. Fortunately, they represent a relatively small percentage of people who are exposed.”

Dr. Alan Lockwood said he has seen way too many children in emergency rooms struggling to breathe while their parents look on confused and helpless.

That is why he and other health professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which aims to limit carbon emissions from power plants and the effects of climate change.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the nation and Fred Hails, a fifth-generation coal miner from Washington County, wants to see it stay that way.

“You’re going to see rolling blackouts,” he said. “You’re going to have high electric bills, and I don’t see the sense in shipping our jobs overseas and buying back energy to support our country.”

Health professionals, lawyers and U.S. senators met in Washington Tuesday to explore the challenges faced by coal miners suffering from black lung disease.

The U.S. Department of Labor will look to hire two administrative law judges and bring back a retired judge in Pittsburgh in 2015 to handle growing black lung claims, according to Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu.

The two workers killed in an underground coal mine in West Virginia were performing a risky method known as retreat mining, where the roof is intentionally collapsed to retrieve more coal.

Retreat mining has been going on for generations and is considered standard practice in mines where coal reserves are running out. It involves yanking supporting pillars of coal from inside the mine and letting the roof collapse as miners and equipment work their way out.

The son of one of the workers who died Monday night at Brody Mine No. 1 said his father understood the risks.

Tim Camerato/90.5 WESA

Coal advocates, union leaders, and tradesmen were joined by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (PA-R-18) in the Allegheny County Courthouse’s courtyard to denounce new standards on carbon emissions for power plants.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  proposed new rules to cut carbon emissions for all future coal-fired power plants.  Regulations on current plants have not been released yet.

Laurence Leamer /

In April of 2010,  29 coal miners were killed in an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big branch Mine in West Virginia. It was the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970.

In March of this year a former Massey Energy official accused Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, of conspiring and plotting to hide safety violations from federal safety inspectors. And that was just the tip

of the iceberg.

Quaker Group to Protest PNC Mining Investments

Apr 22, 2013

The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) is coming to Pittsburgh once again to challenge PNC’s financing of mountaintop mining.

The group made headlines last year as members set out on a 17-day walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to protest during the annual shareholders meeting.

While they’re not walking this year, EQAT will be protesting at Tuesday’s meeting.

Earth Quaker Action Takes Direct Action Against PNC

Apr 20, 2013
Earth Quaker Action Team

  The mission of the Earth Quaker Action Team, also known as EQAT, is to call attention to PNC Bank’s financial funding of coal companies engaging in mountain top removal coal mining. Last year they set out on a two-hundred mile walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to protest at a PNC shareholders meeting. This year EQAT Board Member Ingrid Lakey is back in Pittsburgh, she talks with us about the actions they would like PNC's new CEO to take.