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The New Power Brokers

West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry

Coal, long West Virginia’s most dominant industry, is ailing. Natural gas is taking over, as a powerful economic and political force. Is the state making the same mistakes again with a different fossil fuel?

Residents Say Natural Gas Production Is Marring West Virginia. And the Legislature Isn’t Doing Anything About It.

Though studies recommended additional protections years ago, lawmakers have not taken action to put them in place. But when residents sued, a Supreme Court justice said it was the Legislature’s job.

A Guide to Every Permitted Natural Gas Well in West Virginia

For the first time ever, ProPublica and the Gazette-Mail used software to show over 5,000 permitted wells and the pads on which they sit. Here’s what they look like.

Large Natural Gas Producer to Pay West Virginia Plaintiffs $53.5 Million to Settle Royalty Dispute

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.

Powerless: What It Looks and Sounds Like When a Gas Driller Overruns Your Land

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.

He is West Virginia’s Speaker of the House — and a Lawyer for Natural Gas Companies

State ethics rules seldom prevent lawmakers from proposing or voting on legislation that affects industries they work for.

Century-Old West Virginia Leases Yield Paltry Gas Royalties. A Suit Could Cut Others’ Payouts to a Trickle, Too.

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.

West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry Keeps Pushing to Whittle Away Payments to Residents

Companies are deducting “post-production” costs or creating shell companies to reduce royalty payments. The firms say they have done nothing wrong.

“Jobs Alliance” Backed by Coal Giant Loses Bid To Stop West Virginia Natural Gas Plant

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.

Another West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Declines to Step Aside in Another Natural Gas Case

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.

Another Court Ruling Against a West Virginia Pipeline, Then Another Effort to Change the Rules

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.

“Jobs Alliance,” Funded by Trump Backer, Tries to Block Gas Plants That Would Bring Jobs to West Virginia

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.

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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