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Articles by Keith Schneider

Keith Schneider, a former national correspondent and a contributor to the New York Times, began his environmental reporting career in 1979 when he covered the hazards of radioactive releases from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. He is the senior editor and producer at Circle of Blue, which covers the global freshwater crisis from its newsroom in Traverse City, Mich. He also contributes to Yale Environment 360 and The Energy Collective.

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Wellsville, Ohio could be the site of the first large-scale coal-to-liquids plant in the U.S.Photo: Billy Delfs for OnEarth

Cross-posted from OnEarth.

Driving his black Chevy pickup to the top of the bluff where Baard Energy wants to build the first large-scale plant in the United States that would turn coal into liquid fuels, Rick Williams points a thick index finger at the vacant homes and empty store fronts that make up his Ohio River Valley town and reminisces about what used to be.

The son of an ironworker, Williams, 56, spent much of his adult life as a union laborer, often in the local steel mills and power plants fueled by nearby coal mines. The work wasn’t hard to come by. For much of the 20th century, Wellsville, Ohio, was a small but active town of about 8,000 residents, most of them connected to one or more union locals.

But now most of the steel mills are closed, the union jobs are fading, and the town is going with them. Wellsville’s population is half what it was 40 years ago. Only 65 students graduated from the local high school this year, and all but a handful will likely leave in search of jobs. The overgrown... Read more

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