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Coal Mines

April 8, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Mining coal is much like working in a natural gas well. The same things that produce coal and oil -- dead organic material, heat and pressure -- also produce natural gas, whose primary constituent is methane. The gas is trapped in a coal seam or petroleum reservoir by pressure and water, only to be released when workers drill into the strata. "It's a tremendous nuisance," said mining engineer Christopher J. Bise of West Virginia University. "It's colorless, odorless and tasteless, but highly flammable."
April 8, 2010 | By David Zucchino
Bobby Gray was beat. He'd just worked the nine-hour overnight shift at a coal mine on Seng Creek on Wednesday, and he was due back at 4 p.m. But at least he was alive and safe. "Thank God," said his wife, Michelle. "I worry every time he goes down in that mine that he won't come home at the end of his shift." Three days after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine killed 25 miners, dozens of other mines along the Big Coal River are still running, still sending men deep into the earth to scratch out a living.
April 6, 2010 | By David Zucchino
Brenda Willis rushed out of the One Stop food shop Tuesday wearing a "Route 3 Spousal Group" T-shirt and carrying an armful of sandwiches and cold drinks. "For the families of the lost ones," Willis said as she loaded the food into an SUV for delivery to families gathered at the Upper Big Branch mine office to learn the fates of the missing miners caught in Monday's explosion. Like virtually everyone in the string of unincorporated villages that dot Route 3 along the muddy Big Coal River, Willis knew several victims of the worst U.S. coal mine disaster since 1984.
February 2, 2010 | By Kathleen Hennessey
President Obama has proposed cutting spending in 126 federal programs, promising a savings of $23 billion in fiscal 2011. But many proposed cuts have survived the chopping block before, as lawmakers defended pet projects, constituents' jobs or their prospects for reelection. The familiar programs on the list this year include the C-17 cargo jet, a program to restore polluted industrial sites, a program for reclaimed coal mines and various scholarship programs. The repeat appearances demonstrate how hard it is to cut spending.
January 8, 2010 | By Tom Hamburger
Mountaintop coal mining, which involves blowing up mountain peaks to get access to coal seams below, should be halted immediately because of growing evidence of its environmental and health threats, scientists urged Thursday in the journal Science. The paper, by a group of hydrologists, ecologists and engineers, presents a new and difficult challenge to the Obama administration, which has upset environmentalists by continuing to approve such permits even as it has promised to rely on scientific expertise in deciding whether to grant permits for the controversial practice.
December 15, 2009 | By Barbara Demick
If you want to see a glacier melt with your bare eyes, try Yulong Snow Mountain, an 18,000-foot peak in southern China's Yunnan province. On this early December morning, the mountain is etched against the technicolor sky in shades of gray -- definitely more gray than white. Naked boulders of limestone and daubs of shrubbery protrude from the shallow snow cover. At a scenic overlook on the way up, tourists leave their woolly hats in the tour bus when they hop out to take photographs.
September 8, 2009 | Associated Press
Chinese officials says a blast in a coal mine has killed 35 in central Henan province and left 44 other miners trapped. The State Administration of Work Safety said the predawn explosion today happened at a pit in Pingdingshan city. A statement on the administration's website did not give a cause for the blast. It said 14 miners managed to flee to safety. Ninety-three men were working underground at the time of the blast, it said. China's mines are the world's deadliest.
March 25, 2009 | Associated Press
The Environmental Protection Agency put hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits on hold Tuesday to evaluate the projects' impact on streams and wetlands. The decision by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson targets a controversial practice that allows coal mining companies to dump waste from mountaintop mining into streams and wetlands. Between 150 and 200 applications for new or expanded surface coal mines, many of them mountaintop removal operations, are pending before the federal government.
February 23, 2009 | TIMES WIRE REPORTS
The death toll from a gas explosion at a coal mine in northern China rose to 74, as survivors described how they fled through the tunnels. "I felt a big gust of wind that blew me over," a miner with tubes in his nose told state broadcaster CCTV from his hospital bed. "I got up and started running. . . . After that I don't know what happened," he said. The official New China News Agency said no miners remained trapped. It said 114 were hospitalized and 436 had been in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao city when the blast occurred.
January 18, 2008 | Judy Pasternak, Times Staff Writer
The country's fourth-largest coal producer, Massey Energy Co., has agreed to pay a landmark $20-million fine to settle federal charges that it repeatedly dumped dangerous amounts of mine waste and sediment into creeks and rivers in three Appalachian states over a seven-year period.
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