West Virginia Environmental Journalist Wins Genius Grant

Ken Ward Jr. has been tirelessly covering the coal and gas industries in West Virginia for two and a half decades, often exposing the human costs and environmental dangers of large-scale corporate practices in the energy sector. Earlier this fall, Ward, a staff writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, was recognized for his efforts by being named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, awarded what’s commonly referred to as a “Genius Grant.” Among a field of 25 accomplished artists, scientists, civil rights advocates, and scholars, Ward was included in the annual honors as an investigative journalist for “revealing the human and environmental toll of natural resource extraction in West Virginia and spurring greater accountability among public and private stakeholders,” according to the MacArthur Foundation.

Ward’s win highlights the importance of local journalism, especially in West Virginia, where his work has helped highlight the long-term environmental devastation of mountaintop removal mining and uncover a lack of government response to the scourge of black lung among coal miners.


Collision with Deer Doesn’t Deter Runner

Christina Sanchez was running the Jersey Shore Half Marathon in Sandy Hook, N.J., when suddenly, at mile 10, she saw a “blur of brown and white fur.” Sanchez was struck by a large deer that darted out of the nearby woods. Sanchez didn’t let the  collision stop her from finishing the race. After being examined by the event’s emergency medical team, she returned to the course and finished just 10 minutes slower than her goal time.


JUDGE SAVES WOLVES

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled last month that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by attempting to shrink the territory of the only red wolves in the wild and by authorizing private landowners to kill red wolves. Only 30 red wolves remain in the wild—all in eastern North Carolina.

“I’m going to run the marathon, and I fly to do a show that night after the marathon, which is unheard of, but just makes an amazing story. That’s what I do.” – Comedian Kevin Hart to Chicago-based ABC 7. He wasn’t kidding. On October 7, Hart ran the Chicago Marathon in a time of four hours and 13 minutes. Then he jumped on a plane and performed at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., later that night. Chicago marked Hart’s second time running a 26.2-mile race. He completed the New York City Marathon in 2017.


800 miles cycled across South Carolina by Dr. Tim Hardee, president of the South Carolina Technical College System. He biked an 800-mile route that connected all 16 of the state’s technical schools to raise scholarship funds for students.


Unsafe to Breathe?

Is pollution outweighing the health benefits of cycling in urban areas? A five-year Columbia University study of cyclists in New York City is measuring how much particulate matter they breathe into their lungs each day. When soot penetrates deep into the lungs and bloodstream, it heightens the risk for respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung cancer. At rest, an average person breathes in eight liters of air per minute. While cycling, that increases to 70 liters per minute. Preliminary results have found that cycling behind cars increases pollution intake versus cycling beside traffic, so the study hopes to inspire more bike friendly paths.


Pay to Protest?
In August, the National Park Service released proposed rules that would charge fees to protest and limit free speech in national parks around D.C.


Guv Luv

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order committing the state to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which involves cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025.