Coal Report for May 10, 2017

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at

Despite President Trump’s promises to put coal miners back to work, Kentucky’s coal industry still saw a loss in coal jobs for the first quarter at a 3.3% drop statewide. According to Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, eastern Kentucky coal jobs fell 4.6% in the first quarter. However, Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White said that the numbers were promising. Continue reading Coal Report for May 10, 2017

Mtn. Talk Monday: Eastern Kentucky Response to Nazis

In February, it was made public that white nationalist groups were planning training and rally events in Pike County and Floyd County, Kentucky at the end of April. The response across eastern Kentucky has been largely that these groups are not welcome here. However, there are differences as to what folks believe the response should be. In this episode of Mountain Talk, host Elizabeth Sanders speaks with Ariana Velasquez of Pike County and Patrick Davis of Floyd County who are organizing community responses. 

For more information on the Rally for Equality and American Values – click here.

~ Art by Lacy Hale (art created by local artist Lacy Hale in response to the upcoming events)


Mountain Talk is WMMT’s twice-weekly community space for conversation, airing each Monday & Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.  Mountain Talk programs focus on a variety of topics related to life in the mountains, including: food, community issues, art, health, and more.  Click here to hear past programs.

MN&WR: Ohio Valley ReSource and Regional Journalism

This is an episode dedicated to the Ohio Valley ReSource, a regional news collaborative of seven radio stations across three states. WMMT is one of those stations, and our reporter Benny Becker represents eastern Kentucky in the OVR.

  • Benny Becker has the story of the troubled past of water quality in Martin County, Kentucky and how many have lost trust in their water and their government. (This piece was recently picked to air on NPR.)
  • Aaron Payne delivers the startling statistics and stories behind the region’s infants born to addicted mothers in – Born Addicted: The Race to Treat the Ohio Valley’s Drug Addicted Babies. Payne is based in Athens, Ohio at WOUB.
  • WMMT’s Kelli Haywood speaks with Jeff Young who is the managing editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource and works from WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky, about the importance of regional journalism and the OVR model in these questioning times.
  • ovr-logo-text-black

Read more about Martin County, Kentucky’s water woes at – Troubled Waters: A Coalfield County Loses Trust in Water and Government by Benny Becker.

Read more about neonatal abstinence syndrome and the region’s babies born addicted at – Born Addicted: The Race to Treat Ohio Valley’s Drug-Affected Babies by Aaron Payne.  

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT, and new episodes air every other Thursday at 6pm on WMMT, with a repeat broadcast the following Sunday morning at 10:30.  To listen to previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.

Coal Report for January 25, 2017

Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at

Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at

January 9th, the Kentucky Coal Association President Tyler White announced the association is lending its support to Kentucky H.B. 165. Kentucky’s newly GOP majority in both houses of congress is taking advantage of the opportunity of a Republican governor and president to put forward a bill trying to revive a tax incentive to encourage electric utilities and industries to burn more of the state’s thermal coal. Kentucky still gets about 90% of its electricity from coal, down about 95% a few years ago. Under the newly introduced bill, a state entity consuming additional Kentucky coal would receive a state tax credit of $2 per standard ton. A utility that already purchases 100,000 standard tons of Kentucky coal annually would not get a credit. But, if it raised coal use by 50,000 standard tons, it would receive a $2 credit per ton or a $100,000 tax credit. Continue reading Coal Report for January 25, 2017

Coal Report for January 18, 2017

By Office of U.S. Senator Deb Fischer -, Public Domain,

By Office of U.S. Senator Deb Fischer –, Public Domain,

Wilbur Ross made his billions from bankruptcies. He scooped up troubled steel and coal companies with an eye to resell them later at a profit. One acquisition included a mine that had terrible safety record: Sago, in West Virginia. Soon after the purchase a lighting bolt met methane gas underground (according to the report) leaving 12 miners dead. An independent investigation found the disaster could have been prevented. Mine safety expert Davitt McAteer led that investigation. “Mr. Ross was noticeable by his absence. He didn’t show up. Though, being president of ICG, he was the ultimate responsible party.” Ross founded ICG – International Coal Group – in 2004 when he bought a bunch (16) of coal mines in KY and OH (WEB: the assets of Kentucky-based Horizon Natural Resources) in a bankruptcy auction. Ross reported to New York magazine that he’s haunted by the deaths at Sago. Now, a decade later, you’d be hard-pressed to find people in the region who even know who Ross is. “I think it’s an unreasonable expectation that he be known perhaps in any of the areas where his portfolio companies operate.”

Continue reading Coal Report for January 18, 2017

MN&WR: Changes

  • Mary Meehan of the Ohio Valley ReSource finds changing opinions in one eastern Kentucky community toward the increased risk of HepC and HIV outbreak due to IV drug use and needle exchange programs.
  • WMMT’s Mimi Pickering talks to healthcare service providers and economy experts regarding the boost the Affordable Care Act has given to the health of the people and the economy of eastern Kentucky, and what its repeal might mean for the future.
  • Glynis Board with the Ohio Valley ReSource speaks with photographer Rebecca Kiger about documenting the transitioning economy of coalfields Appalachia.



With the beginning of the new year, we’re in a period of anticipation and change.  People are making their resolutions and wondering if they will pay off.  We are awaiting the inauguration of president elect Donald Trump and wondering what changes his presidency will bring.  And for us in coalfields Appalachia, we still have the question of “what next?” in the forefront of our lives.  The way we answer that question will impact our community in profound ways.  In this episode, we are taking a look at the collective and economic impact that healthcare has on our communities as we envision our future.

The Centers for Disease Control recently ranked the counties in the nation with the greatest risk for an HIV outbreak due to needle-injected drugs. The top ten are all in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Needle exchange programs can limit the risk of infection, but they also challenge some deeply held convictions. Mary Meehan, of the Ohio Valley ReSource, begins our episode in Powell County, Kentucky, where the opioid crisis has forced a religious community to reconsider some beliefs.

The passage of the  Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and the decision of then Governor Steve Beshear to expand Medicaid eligibility, has greatly increased the number of insured people in Kentucky and brought billions of dollars into the state.  In addition jobs related to the Medicaid expansion, connecting the uninsured to benefits, and more people accessing health care, have increased.  However, president elect Donald Trump and the majority of the Republican Congress have promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act as a top priority. Current Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has succeeded in his campaign promise to dismantle the state-run insurance exchange KYnect causing the 75,000 Kentuckians that had enrolled in private healthcare plans through the KYnect platform to re-enroll using the federal platform in order to remain insured as of January 2017. Those on Medicaid have to enroll on a new state system, Benefind, that has been riddled with problems. The changes taking place are a concern for many Kentuckians particularly those in unique situations like coal miners needing black lung benefits, and those who were formerly uninsured, or unable to sign up under an employer plan who are likely to lose benefits with the ACA repeal.  In May of last year, WMMT’s Mimi Pickering reported on the impact of KYnect and the ACA on eastern Kentucky and what a repeal could mean.

The collapse of the coal industry has left many mining communities looking for a new economic path forward. For our final segment, Glynis Board of the Ohio Valley ReSource spoke with a photographer who is helping people picture a new future for the coal fields.

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT, and new episodes air every other Thursday at 6pm on WMMT, with a repeat broadcast the following Sunday morning at 10:30.  To listen to previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.