Ken Ward Jr.
ProPublica Distinguished Fellow
Ken Ward Jr. is a distinguished fellow in ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. 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.
In a key property rights decision, two West Virginia residents scored a rare victory from the state Supreme Court.
As our investigation detailed, EQT Corp. had been accused of deducting a variety of unacceptable charges from natural gas royalty checks. The company says it wants to “turn over a new leaf” in its relationship with the state’s residents.
The gas rush is upending communities with traffic and noise, reshaping the way the state looks and sounds. Residents are often powerless to stop it.
State ethics rules seldom prevent lawmakers from proposing or voting on legislation that affects industries they work for.
Energy giant EQT is challenging a 36-year-old law that gives residents a bigger share of natural gas profits at a time when the industry is flourishing.
Companies are deducting “post-production” costs or creating shell companies to reduce royalty payments. The firms say they have done nothing wrong.
A group backed by Murray Energy has tried to block gas plants in West Virginia. The state Supreme Court rejected arguments against one plant, saying it will help the local economy.
A lawyer who represented new Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins is on the legal team representing the natural gas giant Antero. The opposing side asked Jenkins to recuse himself, but he said no.
A federal appeals court has revoked a key approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Now, state regulators are working to change the rules — again — so it can proceed.
Murray Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, is paying for lawyers trying to block natural gas plants that would support a growing industry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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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