WMKY

Brittany Patterson

Brittany Patterson is the energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. A native of northern California, Brittany comes to West Virginia from Washington, D.C., where she spent three years covering public lands and climate change for E&E News, an outlet that's widely considered required reading for energy and environment professionals.

 

She covers a broad range of topics including the oil and gas industry, coal industry, utilities, conservation, water quality issues and climate change across West Virignia and the Ohio Valley.

 

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her master's from U.C. Berkeley, both in journalism. Her work has been published in Scientific American, E&E News, TheAtlantic.com, Mother Jones, KQED, Earth Island Journal, Verily, and Refinery 29.

 

When not reporting the news, you can find her baking, hiking or cuddling with her 80-pound American bulldog, Cooper.

 

Coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. has emerged from bankruptcy with a new name and a commitment to rehire all of its former union employees, according to a news release from the United Mine Workers of America. 

Lawmakers from across the Ohio Valley have received nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions from 2019-2020 from a political action committee associated with FirstEnergy Corp., the electric utility implicated in a $61 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and coal plants. 

 

 


One of the country’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, with a large presence in the Ohio Valley, has emerged at the center of a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and coal plants.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s $2 trillion clean energy plan is drawing praise from organizations that work with coal communities on economic transition, but mixed reactions from union officials and industry groups. 

 

 


On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background — nature’s version of a white noise machine. 

 

For the tanned Currey, who also owns an industrial real estate company, being here, on the river, is as good as it gets. His goal is to share this slice of paradise with as many people as will listen. 

Federal environmental regulators finalized a rule Monday that reduces the time states have to approve federal permits for energy projects. 

A federal court on Friday approved a deal that requires two federal agencies to review the environmental impacts of coal mining on endangered species, including West Virginia's Guyandotte River crayfish

 


Coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice have agreed to pay more than $5 million in overdue mine health and safety fines and fees.

A bill that would create a utility solar energy program in West Virginia is one step closer to becoming law.

On Thursday, despite vocal opposition from some coalfield lawmakers, the House of Delegates passed an amended version of S.B. 583, 75 to 23 with two members not voting. The bill now heads back to the Senate to address two House amendments.

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is proposing new protections for two threatened species of crayfish found in the Appalachian coalfields.

New testing by the Environmental Working Group has identified the presence of toxic fluorinated chemicals, broadly known as PFAS, in the tap water of dozens of cities across the U.S. where contamination was not previously known. 

 


  A new study finds the closure of coal-fired power plants and transition to natural gas generation across the United States over a decade saved an estimated 26,610 lives due to a reduction in air pollution, with about a fifth of those avoided deaths in the Ohio Valley. 

The new film “Dark Waters” depicts the real-life story of the 20-year battle waged by attorney Rob Bilott against chemical giant DuPont.

Communities across the Ohio Valley are among an estimated 2 million Americans that do not have consistent access to clean drinking water and basic indoor plumbing, according to a report published Monday by two nonprofits, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance.


 

Rediscovering The Power Of Learning Outside, Inside Appalachia

Nov 18, 2019

Increasingly, teachers are finding that spending time in nature with their students is essential to learning. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from educators who are knocking down classroom walls so that kids can get some fresh air and exercise, and improve test scores in the process.


Devin Mefford is sitting in the squat metal buggy of a modified mantrip, the train-like shuttle coal miners use to travel underground. Mefford is dressed for work, in a hardhat and a navy shirt and pants with lime green reflective stripes.

It’s a uniform his father and grandfather — both Kentucky coal miners — would be familiar with.

Mefford does go into a mine every day, but not for the coal. He’s the tour guide at Portal 31, a train ride through a once-operational coal mine in Harlan County.

State officials have confirmed an invasive pest known to feed on a wide range of crops and trees has been found in West Virginia for the first time.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture said in a press release released Wednesday that the Spotted Lanternfly was discovered in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County in late October. 

 


This story was updated on Oct. 29 to include additional information and reaction.

Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in America with a substantial footprint across the Ohio Valley, has filed for bankruptcy protection. 

On a recent Friday in October, hundreds of children and their families are excitedly milling about the West Virginia State Wildlife Center

Clutching flashlights, glow sticks and steaming cups of hot chocolate, visitors have come to the state-run zoological center — which houses wildlife native and introduced to West Virginia  — for the ninth annual Spooky Night Tours. 


Tap water delivered by more than 2,000 water systems across the Ohio Valley contain pollutants, many harmful to human health, even though they mostly meet federal drinking water standards. That’s according to a newly-updated database released by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. 


 

Standing on the breezy outlook at Flag Rock Recreation Area, Norton City Manager Fred Ramey is taking in the panoramic view of downtown Norton, Virginia. The brick building-lined streets are framed by the verdant, rolling Appalachian mountains. Jagged, brown scars from mountaintop mining operations can be seen in the distance, reminders of the region’s history of coal production.


Two West Virginia lawmakers — a Republican and a Democrat — held a video conference Tuesday with middle and high school students across the state about a topic that’s not often given much attention in West Virginia: Climate change.


 

More than 150 West Virginia college students and residents skipped class and work on Friday to raise awareness about the growing threat of climate change. The protest was part of a global climate action that drew millions of participants across the world.


 


West Virginia employees of coal operator Blackjewel LLC have received their final paychecks more than two months after the company declared bankruptcy on July 1. 

On a recent hot, August weekend, about a dozen citizens spent three days along the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Armed with cameras, smartphones and drones the volunteers traveled portions of the pipeline’s route under construction from Monroe to Doddridge counties. 

 


 


Lawyers, lawmakers, about two dozen foster families, and others put their heads together Tuesday evening to discuss what’s working and what could be better inside West Virginia's foster care system. 

The forum is one of a series of listening sessions being hosted across the state by the non-profit child welfare organization, the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. 

President Donald Trump Tuesday toured Shell Chemical’s soon-to-be completed ethane cracker complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania, to tout his administration’s commitment to expanding energy production. The facility is part of what industry boosters hope will be a new plastics and chemical manufacturing base in the upper Ohio Valley, but many residents here worry about the heat-trapping gases and plastic waste such an industry would produce.

Some coal miners left without pay by the bankruptcy of coal company Blackjewel LLC are protesting by blocking a coal train in eastern Kentucky.

The stand-off began early Monday when five miners blocked the train from leaving the Cumberland, Kentucky, plant. Despite police asking them to leave, miners spent the night blocking the railroad to protest Blackjewel moving coal while miners have yet to be paid.

A buyer for some of bankrupt coal company Blackjewel’s mines has emerged. 

In a court filing Thursday, July 25, the West Virginia-based company said Contura Energy Inc., which operates both surface and underground coal mines across Appalachia, had agreed to be a “Stalking Horse Purchaser” or initial bidder for three of the company’s surface mines. 

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