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FROM THIS EPISODE

This week's disaster in West Virginia dramatizes the human cost of coal mining underground. Surface mining's already the subject of new environmental regulations. What's the future of coal in a country with a boundless appetite for energy? Also, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he'll retire, and contemporary politics and the Civil War.


Banner image: A road sign warns traffic of an emergency ahead at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 6, 2010 in Montcoal, West Virginia. Rescue efforts to save four miners that remain unaccounted for have been suspended due to poison gasses trapped underground after 25 miners were killed in an explosion at Massey Energy Company mine on April 5. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Producers:
Frances Anderton
Darrell Satzman
Karen Radziner

Making News Justice Stevens to Step Down 7 MIN, 48 SEC

stevens.jpgAfter 35 years on the US Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens says he'll retire at the end of this year's session. He is about to turn 90 years old, and his departure gives President Obama his second chance to shape the highest court in the land. Jeff Bravin covers the court for the Wall Street Journal.

Guests:
Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal (@JessBravin)

Main Topic Coal: A Necessary Evil? 36 MIN, 1 SEC

Twenty-five miners are known to have died in this week's massive explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.  The effort to rescue four men still unaccounted for may be a lost cause. Even before this week's tragedy, the Obama Administration took aim at surface coal mining with a new set of environmental regulations. The loss of human life in the Upper Big Branch mine will likely produce new safety measures for methane gas deep underground. The coal industry and miners themselves claim new rules threaten their economic survival. Can coal mining be made safer and cleaner, or does America's appetite for energy mean putting up with so-called "hidden costs?"

Guests:
Hoppy Kercheval, Host, West Virginia MetroNews' 'Talkline'
Bruce Dail, Owner, Dial Mine Safety
Luke Popovich, Vice President of Communications, National Mining Association
Scott Edwards, Food and Water Watch (@foodandwater)

Reporter's Notebook Confederate History Month in Virginia 7 MIN, 11 SEC

book.jpgDemocrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine abandoned Confederate History Month when they were governors of Virginia. Republican Bob McDonnell has revived it. In his apology for forgetting to mention slavery, he said the Civil War also "involved other issues…but I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for "Virginia." Lacy Ford is Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Deliver Us from Evil: the Slavery Question in the Old South.

Guests:
Lacy Ford, Professor of History, University of South Carolina

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