News Minute: Here is the latest West Virginia news from The Asso - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

News Minute: Here is the latest West Virginia news from The Associated Press at 5:40 p.m. EDT

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DENVER (AP) - The Trump administration is easing rules for handling toxic coal ash from more than 400 coal-fired power plants across the U.S. after utilities objected to regulations adopted under former President Barack Obama. Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the changes will save utilities roughly $30 million annually. Most of the savings come from extending by 18 months the deadline for utilities to close ash dumps that don't meet water protection standards.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has dropped slightly to 5.3 percent in June. WorkForce West Virginia says the number of unemployed state residents fell by 300 during the month to 42,000. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 4 percent in June.

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - The New River Gorge National River in West Virginia will receive a grant to bolster a partnership aimed at getting local residents involved in recreational activities. The National Park Foundation on Wednesday announced 20 grants to enhance the country's national trails and wild and scenic rivers. In southern West Virginia, the Get Active in the Park program provides free, beginner-level instruction in outdoor activities such as yoga, rock climbing, paddle boarding, hiking and fly fishing.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University has marked the start of a new phase of research aimed at recovering rare earth elements from coal and its byproducts. A ceremony was held Wednesday at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy on WVU's Evansdale campus in Morgantown for the Rare Earth Extraction Facility. WVU says the goal of the project is to bolster valuable rare earth elements from coal waste and acid mine drainage, which is the most abundant pollutant in West Virginia waters.

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