"Rickey A. Beene, or “Bear,” as most everyone calls him, has worked as a prison guard, a school teacher, a poet and a gardener. In 1993, he unwittingly began another career – as a portrait painter and unofficial archivist for the town of Petros, Tennessee."
"'To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area of the Central Appalachians the size of Washington, D.C., would need to be mined every 81 days,' says a press release from Duke University."
"Andrew Hamblin handles poisonous snakes every Sunday in the name of Jesus. At just 22, he leads Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., a Pentecostal church that practices a rare, century-old Christian tradition of worshipping God with venomous snakes like timber rattlers, cottonmouths, and copperheads. He plays mandolin, loves zombie movies, receives food stamps, has five children, and now is he is a star in a new 16-episode National Geographic reality series, Snake Salvation, premiering Tuesday about Appalachia’s serpent-handling churches."
"Blair Mountain sits at the confluence of Appalachian struggles old and new. In August of 1921, roughly 10,000 armed coal miners from the region converged and began marching toward the town of Logan, the seat of coal operator power, in an effort to unionize mines in southern West Virginia and ensure their very own human rights. For these brave people -- whose labor fueled an expansion of American wealth and global power in the early 20th century -- collective bargaining, safe working conditions, and a modest measure of economic justice finally felt attainable."
"Lawsuits accusing two energy companies of cheating Southwest Virginia landowners out of royalty payments for natural gas siphoned from coal seams are headed to a showdown that could dramatically expand the scope of the legal action."
"Coal-fired power plants and coal mines are going down across the U.S., according to SNL Financial analyses. Facing tougher federal health-based standards for mercury emissions in 2015, utility companies have been steadily shuttering coal-fired units, with 8,800 megawatts permanently closed in 2012 and another 5,781 megawatts projected to be closed this year."