Published on September th, 2010

In the past few years, natural gas and oil producers have become an increasing presence in a community long dominated by coal mining. But while it has become somewhat common to see caravans of perhaps twenty heavy trucks from Halliburton or another energy company, and while “everyone knows” that wells are being drilled and pipelines laid, there has not been much information available on what looks like a major development for the community’s economy and environment.

WMMT, the public radio station of Appalshop, Inc. in Whitesburg, Kentucky, will carry out a project addressing issues raised by an increased level of oil and gas development in its broadcast area of southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia, historically a coal-mining area. The focus will be on effects of oil and gas recovery on water and air quality. The project will identify key stakeholders, gather information, and identify ways that local decision-makers can respond to emerging issues. Through radio broadcast, public forums, and internet, this project will help the communities of Letcher County, Kentucky and Wise County, Virginia gain access to information about these issues, learn how other communities have dealt with them, and hold a public discussion on how to proceed.