Ken Ward Jr.

Reporter

Ken Ward Jr. is a ProPublica reporter covering West Virginia. Previously, he was the longtime environmental and investigative reporter at The Charleston Gazette and Gazette-Mail. Ward worked as part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in 2018 on a series about West Virginia’s natural gas industry and in 2019 and 2020 on an investigation of the business empire of the state’s governor, Jim Justice.

A West Virginia native, Ward is also co-founder of Mountain State Spotlight, a statewide nonprofit civic news organization. In 2018, he received a MacArthur Fellowship – the so-called “genius grant” – for “revealing the human and environmental toll of natural resource extraction in West Virginia and spurring greater accountability among private stakeholders.”

Ward is also three-time winner of the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting. In 2000, he received the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for reporting on the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. In 2006, while funded by an Alicia Patterson Fellowship, he was awarded an Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal for his work investigating coal mining deaths.

Natural Gas Industry Again Beats a Tiny West Virginia County That Wanted to Control Its Destiny

A federal judge ruled that Fayette County must allow a natural gas compressor station, saying the federal Natural Gas Act takes precedence over local zoning rules.

How One West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Gave Natural Gas a Big Victory and Shortchanged Residents

Justice Beth Walker voted to reopen an already decided case around the time her husband owned stock in a variety of energy companies. And that’s not even why she’s been impeached.

What Happens When a Pipeline Runs Afoul of Government Rules? Authorities Change the Rules.

Federal authorities halted work on the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline this month after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies neglected to follow environmental protections.

West Virginia Paid for a CEO to Go on a Trade Delegation to China. Turns Out, He Was Promoting His Company’s Interests, Too.

An executive accompanied state officials to China for a ceremony with President Donald Trump to sign a landmark deal last year. He also pushed his company’s interests, which the governor said Friday was not acceptable.

One West Virginia County Tried to Break Its Dependence on the Energy Industry. It Was Overruled.

After seeing the scars of coal, Fayette County banned the disposal of natural gas drilling waste. Industry fought back, arguing the community doesn’t get a say.

The Coal Industry Extracted a Steep Price From West Virginia. Now Natural Gas Is Leading the State Down the Same Path.

“It’s déjà vu for the people who sat here 130 years ago and gave away our coal wealth to big out-of-state companies,” one state senator said. “That’s what we’re about to do again.”

Covering West Virginia’s Long History of Broken Promises

In the face of a major decline in the coal industry, families and entire communities that depended on it are hurting. Now that natural gas is booming, I’m reporting on whether we’ve learned anything from the past.

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