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The Appalachian Voice

Turning Coal Ash into Art

Woman points to location on a map.

In Walnut Cove — a community whose history has been tainted by coal ash for decades — The Lilies Project has turned coal ash into art, and is expanding to encompass the town’s story beyond coal ash.

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Bills Aim to Help Miners with Black Lung and Surviving Family Access Benefits

A painting of boots, a hat and other gear used by coal miners.

Miners with black lung disease face a difficult process to obtain modest benefits, as do their widows. Two bills in Congress aim to help miners with the disease and their bereaved families, including by tying benefit levels to inflation.

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Fighting for Black Lung Benefits for Miners and Families

A woman poses next to her husband with her arm around his shoulders.

Kathryn South’s husband, Mike South, was diagnosed with black lung disease at age 35. As they grappled with his disease, the couple also navigated the arduous legal process to obtain federal black lung benefits, a fight that Kathryn continued even after Mike’s passing.

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The Root that Shaped a Region

smiling man crouches near ginseng plants in the forest

By Carolina Norman An author and historian who traveled across Appalachia examining business records of pharmaceutical companies, mountain entrepreneurs and country stores, Luke Manget’s book, “Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia,” unearths the complex and

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Contaminants Found in East Tennessee Springs

Two men stand on a gravel road outdoors next to a truck and another man crouched next to white buckets.

Springs are often assumed to be a safe, clean source of drinking water. But they can harbor a number of health hazards, as new research published in the journal Geosciences shows.

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Confronting Rising Black Lung

Amid an ongoing surge in severe black lung disease among coal miners, federal lawmakers have introduced a number of bills aimed at assisting affected miners and their families. The Inflation Reduction Act shored up funding for benefits, and advocates are pushing for additional measures.

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Native Plant Rescue Squad Aims to Boost the Biodiversity of Tennessee Neighborhoods

three smiling people and a dog in a greenhouse

By saving native plants from destruction and helping these plants find new homes, the Native Plant Rescue Squad is “helping reconnect people to themselves through the natural world.”

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Conservation Crew Builds Trails in Dante, Virginia

Four crew members smile standing side by side outdoors.

Conservation crew members spent 10 weeks creating trails in Southwest Virginia.

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As EPA Prepares to Update Federal Air Quality Limits, Coal Dust Looms Large in Eunice

gray dust hovers between two trees

Frustrated with constant coal dust, residents of Eunice, West Virginia, asked the state to install an air quality monitoring device in their community. The request was denied.

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No Easy Answers on Coal Ash Cleanup

10 people raise their fists in front of a bronze statue

To protect groundwater and community health, coal ash ponds must be cleaned up. But, as communities in Tennessee have learned, safely removing the toxic waste brings its own set of challenges.

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