Monthly Archives: April 2017

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Virginia Coal Communities Saved from Costly Plan

Via The Roanoke Times:

Childress is the president of the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance based in Lebanon.

Many Americans have already forgotten about the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama administration’s signature effort to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants. But not the nation’s coal communities. They’ve lived with this regulation as an ever-present threat even after its implementation was stayed by a federal court.

Virginia’s coal communities saw the CPP for exactly what it was: a thinly-veiled assault on their livelihood — and one that would cripple an already reeling industry while providing little environmental benefit.

Fortunately, the Trump administration has done just what it promised. By executive order, President Trump has axed the CPP along with another vestige of the Obama administration’s anti-coal policy, the moratorium on all new leases of federal coal reserves.

Just a few months ago, those waging the War on Coal felt like they were on the precipice of victory. Now, they are in full retreat. The industry can finally compete again without having both of its arms tied behind its back by an overzealous Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior.

We’ve been told that coal plant retirements, falling coal demand, and lost mining jobs were all the result of market competition from cheap natural gas. While lower natural gas prices have played a role, the elephant in the room has been the regulations designed to close coal plants while making it more expensive to mine coal.

To understand just how dangerous the CPP and coal leasing moratorium were, simply look at the numbers. The moratorium on the leasing of federally controlled coal was designed to keep America’s largest source of coal firmly in the ground. Roughly 41 percent of U.S. coal production comes from public lands, providing a major source of electricity generation nationwide. An indefinite moratorium on this resource would have proved crippling, potentially jeopardizing many of the 14,000 miners whose livelihoods depend on federal coal.

The CPP’s impact would have been worse. By the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s own calculation, the regulation would have meant the unnecessary and premature closure of many of our remaining coal power plants. With reduced demand for coal, production would have fallen by roughly 240 million tons per year, affecting 100,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Consumers across the country would have paid for this folly, too. Replacing so much generating capacity would have cost $64 billion. And because this low-cost power would have been replaced with more expensive alternatives, wholesale electricity prices would have soared.

Energy Ventures Analysis, a leading consulting firm, calculated that electricity prices would have experienced double digit percentage increases in more than 40 states. The average American household would have paid an additional $680 per year in electricity costs compared to 2012. These are staggering numbers. And for what?

Environmental activists were willing to sacrifice America’s coal industry, and the affordable power it provides, even as coal demand continues to rise overseas. China now consumes as much coal as the rest of the world combined.

The Trump administration has thankfully restored some common sense to our energy policy.

Instead of viewing the coal industry as a problem in need of fixing, the country again can embrace an all-American resource that provides one-third of our electricity and supports hundreds of thousands of good jobs.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook near misses, damage nearly avoided. But we would be wise not to make that mistake with the War on Coal.

The president may not have ended it, but at least it will no longer be waged by our government.

See the article here.

Coal Important for Toledo and Nation

Via The Toledo Blade:

Everyone has their routine, something they do automatically, every day, without thinking twice.

For many, it’s turning on the lights, charging our phones, brewing coffee, perhaps turning on the laptop or TV, then driving to work in our cars and trucks, where we grind out most of our day until we drive home to repeat our morning activities once more before hitting the sheets.

Toledo longshoremen have been responsible for supplying coal for power generation throughout the area, yet today that is no longer the case, according to representatives of ILA-Local 1768 in Toledo.

Longshoremen have their daily routines too — and we wouldn’t be able to go about doing ours if the longshoremen didn’t go about doing theirs.

Employed at ports that operate around the clock, longshoremen move cargo on and off ships via a variety of methods, most commonly by crane. They deal with many bulk commodities — sand, gravel, cement, ore, and coal — and other objects too big to be transported a long distance via road, rail, or air.

Among their chief responsibilities is making sure containers — those enormous, metal, rectangular boxes you see on ships or stacked alongside a port — are loaded and unloaded and placed on a rail train, semi-trailer chassis, or lake freighter so that they can be hauled away to a warehouse, distribution center, or steel mill.

In many instances, they’re moving coal to a power plant.

That last scenario is how our members here at ILA-Local 1768 in Toledo have affected your ability to go about your routine in a cost-effective manner for years. Without us, in fact, it’d be much harder — and pricier — to get the energy you need to all your electric-powered products.

Historically, our Toledo longshoremen have been responsible for supplying coal for power generation throughout the area, yet today that is no longer the case. Escalating resistance to coal and an unwillingness to keep it as a must-have ingredient in America’s growing mix of domestic energy resources is disrupting our ability to continue our daily routine.

In due time, it’ll disrupt yours.

Per reports, some 227,000 jobs throughout the Great Lakes region depend on shipping and mining. By itself, shipping is one of the world’s largest economic drivers and a critical component for importing and exporting affordable products.

Our members, for instance, load about 25,000 tons of coal to each ship. Should coal take an additional downturn, it would be economically devastating, adversely affecting two-thirds of the aforementioned jobs and driving up utility costs.

That’s because the price of coal is continuously steady, resilient to the economic seesaws that regularly engulf other forms of energy. Coal is also an important part of the power-generation mix that helps keep the U.S. from being too dependent on just one form of energy. That’s good, not just for jobs and pricing motives, but security too.

In winters past, local utilities reported trouble keeping output strong amid extremely cold temperatures and peak usage periods. All forms of energy were required, they said, especially coal. Imagine how much more stressed the electric grid would have become without coal and how much more strained it could become in winters ahead.

Also, if we’re locked into just one common form of energy, the problems that later plague that resource — varying costs, for instance, or a severe shortage — affect us all. When that occurs, how long will it take to get coal production restarted? How long would it take to refill lost jobs?

And what’s the impact on U.S. steel production, which remains dependent on coal as a core ingredient? Will we have enough steel to continue manufacturing American-made products, buildings, bridges, ships, cars, and homes without looking overseas for coal?

See, turning off the lights on coal jump-starts a domino effect that turns off the lights on a variety of other everyday industries and necessities, which is why it’s important we work to back legislation that keeps coal as part of America’s changing energy equation, before we all end up with higher bills, fewer jobs, and no alternate resources.

See the article here.

Poll Shows Mining’s Environmental Accomplishments Unknown to American Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The vast majority of American voters are unaware of the environmental and technological advancements of today’s mining industry according to new polling, suggesting mining’s legacy skews perceptions.

A new poll by Morning Consult for the National Mining Association (NMA) shows less than 10 percent of voters could assess the scale of emissions reductions that have been achieved in coal-powered plants, the acreage reclaimed and restored from mined lands, and other benchmarks of mining’s progress. Just one in five voters correctly identified clean coal technologies that have dramatically reduced power plant emissions since the first Earth Day in 1970.

“This poll appears to underscore the stubborn impressions that remain from turn-of-the-century mining before the advent of the environmental era,” said Hal Quinn, NMA President and CEO. “The message here is that we need to do a better job of educating the public about the accomplishments of our industry—which like all basic industries is vastly different today than it was before the first Earth Day.”

Quinn said that media coverage of recent regulatory reforms also suggests that perceptions are not aligned with realities.

“If the public fails to appreciate the advances we have made in reclaiming mined land, in producing minerals with less natural disturbance, and in deploying ever cleaner and safer technologies, then the benefits of more regulation will be simply assumed and their costs more easily dismissed or belittled,” said Quinn.

“An honest debate about regulation must start with a broader understanding of how today’s mining industry differs from mining in the past,” Quinn said.

Coal Powered Electricity

Even though coal is widely discussed in the news today, particularly in relation to the environment, voters are uninformed or misinformed about advancements made in coal technologies to date, and the technologies that will make the use of coal increasingly clean in the future.

Coal-fueled power plants have reduced emissions by more than 90 percent since the 1970s. Just 9 percent of voters are aware that today’s coal plants have reduced emissions by more than 90 percent. These reductions have occurred while low-cost reliable coal generation has more than doubled.

There are a variety of advanced coal technologies available today and in development for the future that are making the use of coal more efficient and cleaner. Advanced coal technologies include Flue Gas Desulfurization; Fluidized-Bed Combustion; High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) technologies; and Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS). Despite this wide range of technologies, just 22 percent of voters answered that these technologies are contributing to make the use of coal cleaner and more efficient.

Hardrock and Coal Mining

Today’s mining projects begin with extensive environmental studies and end with land reclamation for recreation, wildlife habitat and community needs.

The U.S. mining industry has paid more than $10 billion to restore mines that were abandoned prior to laws requiring their restoration. Only 7 percent of Americans recognize that the industry has paid more than $10 billion to restore mined lands, returning them to their pre-mining state, an improved condition for wildlife habitat, or transforming them for community use, such as hospitals or schools.

U.S. mining companies have restored more than 2.9 million acres of mined land. A full 75 percent of voters did not know how much land had been restored by U.S. mining companies, with just 10 percent correctly noting that 2.9 million acres had been restored.

The poll was conducted April 13-15, 2017, of 1,992 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-2 percent.

See the release here.

Pruitt: EPA No Longer About Killing Off Coal

Via The Washington Examiner:

The Environmental Protection Agency is no longer about “regulating an entire industry out of business,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday, visiting a large coal-fired power plant in Missouri that likely would have been forced to close under the Obama EPA’s climate plan.

The visit was part of a tour of coal country by Pruitt and other senior officials that began last week to show the Trump administration’s support for the industry, after years of neglect that critics commonly refer to as former President Barack Obama’s “War on Coal.”

Pruitt also discussed Trump’s recent executive order that repeals a number of Obama’s climate change executive actions, including a review of climate rules on the utility industry that ultimately will seek to rescind the regulations.

“Coal is, and will continue to be, a critical part of America’s energy mix,” Pruitt said while visiting the Thomas Hill Energy Center in Clifton Hill. “Last week I went underground in a Pennsylvania coal mine, and today I got a first-hand look at a Missouri coal-fired power plant,” he said.

Pruitt reiterated what he told coal miners in Pennsylvania a week ago. “I’m committed to working in coordination with states to create a healthy environment where jobs and businesses can grow,” he said. “That’s the purpose of my Back-to-Basics agenda,” which is the name of the campaign he announced last week.

“I saw today just how important this fuel source is to affordable electricity and economic development in the region, especially in the agriculture community,” Pruitt said.

The power plant he visited Thursday is considered one of the coal facilities most compliant with EPA pollution regulations. But under Obama’s Clean Power Plan, it probably would have been closed, according to officials who met with Pruitt. The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda, which would require states to cut greenhouse gas emissions a third by 2030.

Many scientists blame the emissions, from burning fossil fuels, for climate change, resulting in more severe weather, drought and flooding.

“When EPA asked for comments from the public on its Clean Power Plan in 2013, Missouri electric cooperative members responded with more than 300,000 comments, all with a common theme: ‘Don’t raise our rates, and we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy that keeps electricity affordable and creates jobs,'” said Barry Hart, executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. But those comments “fell on deaf ears.”

Rural cooperative utilities are not-for-profit utilities focused on providing electricity to their members. Electric cooperatives make up a large swath of the nation’s utility sector and have been heavily involved in a major lawsuit fighting the Clean Power Plan.

“We are encouraged to see that the Trump administration understands the concerns of people in rural America and is committed to bringing the change they want,” Hart said.

See the article here.

EPA Administrator Brings Back-to-Basics Agenda to Missouri Power Plant

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt visited the Thomas Hill Energy Center in Clifton Hill, Mo. today to discuss EPA’s Back-to-Basics agenda, which aims to refocus the agency on its core mission of protecting the environment through sensible regulations developed in cooperation with state, local and tribal partners. Administrator Pruitt spoke with more than 300 power plant workers, electric cooperative members and agriculture leaders about balancing environmental protection with affordable energy and jobs.

“Rather than regulating an entire industry out of business, I’m committed to working in coordination with states to create a healthy environment where jobs and businesses can grow. That’s the purpose of my Back-to-Basics agenda,” said Administrator Pruitt. “Last week I went underground in a Pennsylvania coal mine, and today I got a firsthand look at a Missouri coal-fired power plant. Coal is, and will continue to be, a critical part of America’s energy mix. I saw today just how important this fuel source is to affordable electricity and economic development in the region, especially in the agriculture community.”

Administrator Pruitt also spoke with workers and co-op members about the President’s recent Energy Independence Executive Order and his Executive Order directing EPA to review the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS.

“When EPA asked for comments from the public on its Clean Power Plan in 2013, Missouri electric cooperative members responded with more than 300,000 comments, all with a common theme: ‘Don’t raise our rates, and we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy that keeps electricity affordable and creates jobs.’ Those comments fell on deaf ears. We are encouraged to see that the Trump Administration understands the concerns of people in rural America and is committed to bringing the change they want. We look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt and other administration officials as they work to ensure Washington regulations don’t harm the people who can least afford it — our members — and help rural communities create jobs,” said Barry Hart, Executive VP and CEO of Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

“Responsible coal generation plays a key role in making sure rural America has access to affordable power it can count on. While natural gas prices and other variables may periodically affect the operation of generating units like those here at Thomas Hill Energy Center, coal is still the foundation fuel that delivers reliability at competitive prices for our cooperative system.  Based on his visit today and our conversation, it’s clear to me Administrator Pruitt’s vision and priorities for the EPA align with the values of Associated Electric and our members,” said David Tudor, CEO & General Manager, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.

“Missouri is proud to host U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on his Back-to-Basics tour. We are encouraged that it is a new day at the agency, one in which all sides are heard and common sense will be considered in decisions that affect people’s lives and economic livelihood. The last time an EPA Administrator traveled to our state she was in the midst of a lobbying campaign for the onerous Waters of the United States rule that would make 99 percent of Missouri land subject to federal regulation. President Trump’s decision to conduct a thorough review of the WOTUS rule is a good step, and we look forward to the day when government overreach is no longer standard operating procedure. Missouri farmers and ranchers work hard every day to produce an abundance of high quality and affordable food and don’t need to be targeted for unnecessary and costly government regulations,” said Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

See the press release here.

EPA May Rewrite Obama-Era Regulation That Shut Down Coal Plants

Via The Daily Caller: 

The Trump administration asked a federal court to delay oral arguments so it can review a costly Obama-era regulation limiting mercury and other pollutants from power plants.

The Department of Justice notified all parties involved in the lawsuit over the mercury, or MATS, rule Tuesday they would ask the court to delay oral arguments set for May 18 so the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could review the regulation.

“This continuance is appropriate because recently-appointed EPA officials in the new Administration will be closely scrutinizing the Supplemental Finding to determine whether it should be maintained, modified, or otherwise reconsidered,” reads the Trump administration’s legal filing.

The Supreme Court struck down the MATS regulation in 2015, ruling the EPA “acted” “unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants,” but a lower court allowed EPA to keep MATS in place since the agency is close to issuing a similar rule.

EPA, however, still had to complete an updated cost-benefit study for MATS, which was challenged by 15 states and several energy companies. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joined the lawsuit against EPA while attorney general of Oklahoma.

“As reflected in the parties’ briefs, the Supplemental Finding also implicates significant legal and policy issues about a CAA rule of national importance—issues that new EPA officials will need time to carefully review,” the administration argued.

States and energy companies will no doubt celebrate the EPA’s reviewing of MATS, seeing it as the next step in the Trump administration’s plan to cut most federal regulations imposed during the Obama administration.

Environmentalists were angry with the Trump administration, saying it was pointless to reconsider a rule U.S. coal-fired power plants have largely complied with or shut down.

 

When EPA issued MATS in 2012, the agency estimated the rule would cost $9.6 billion and generate between $37 billion and $90 billion in health benefits.

EPA also said MATS would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year, but critics have challenged these claims.

In fact, EPA only estimated about $6 million in benefits directly from reducing mercury emissions. Virtually all of the regulation’s benefits come from reducing other pollutants, called “co-benefits.” That means the costs of reducing mercury outweigh the benefits by a 1,600 to one ratio.

“According to the EPA, the MATS rule is necessary in order to protect a supposed population of pregnant subsistence fisherwomen, who during their pregnancies eat hundreds of pounds of self-caught fish from America’s most polluted bodies of fresh inland water,” William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said after the 2015 appeals court ruling.

“EPA’s has produced no evidence these voracious pregnant anglers actually exist; rather, they are modeled to exist,” Yeatman said. “I suggest these ‘victims’ don’t exist, and that the putative mercury benefits are much closer to zero.”

MATS has probably had the biggest impact on coal-fired power plants of any EPA regulation. A record nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power was shut down in 2015 — the first year MATS went into effect.

Some power plants were given extensions until 2016 and 2017. Another 12 gigawatts of coal-fired power is expected to shut down through 2020.

Coal has also come under pressure from natural gas, which has become price competitive in recent years due to hydraulic fracturing. Utilities are using more natural gas to avoid installing expensive emissions control technology and in anticipation of global warming regulations.

See the article here.

Coal’s Colossal Comeback

Via Townhall:

Buried in an otherwise-humdrum jobs report was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Department of Labor that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in October 2016, and following years of painful layoffs in the mining industry, the mining sector has added 35,000 jobs.

What a turnaround. Liberals have been saying that Donald Trump was lying to the American people when he said that he could bring coal jobs back. Well, so far, he has delivered on his promise.

There’s more good news for the coal industry. Earlier this month, Peabody Energy — America’s largest coal producer — moved out of bankruptcy, and its stock is actively trading again. Its market cap had sunk by almost 90 percent during Barack Obama’s years in office. Arch Coal is also out of bankruptcy.

It turns out that, after all, elections do have consequences. The Obama administration and its allies, such as the Sierra Club, tried to kill coal because of their obsession with global warming. Regime change in Washington has brought King Coal back to life.

Donald Trump pledged to coal miners in small towns across America that he would be a friend to American coal and fossil fuels. As promised, Trump has lifted the so-called Clean Power Plan regulations and several other EPA rules that were intentionally designed to shutter coal plants, which it accomplished with ruthless precision. Hillary Clinton had promised her green allies that she would finish off every last coal-mining job in America.

The coal miners weren’t too happy about this, and her arrogant disregard for a leading American industry that hires tens of thousands of union workers contributed to her losing almost all the coal states — many of which were once reliably Democratic.

America was built on cheap and abundant coal. Fossil fuels powered the U.S. into the industrial age and replaced windmills and wood burning, which were inefficient, as the primary sources of electricity. America currently has access to 500 years’ worth of coal — far more than any other nation. Despite the last decade’s war on coal, the U.S. still derives about one-third of our power from coal, making it second only to natural gas.

Liberals have argued that coal could never make a comeback, because of cheap natural gas. Clearly, the shale gas revolution — with prices falling from $10 to $3 per million cubic feet — has hurt coal producers.

But economic necessity is the mother of invention, and coal companies, including Peabody, have figured out how to become far more efficient in production. What’s more, clean coal is here. Emissions of lead, sulfur, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants from coal plants have fallen by more than half, and in some cases 90 percent, in recent decades.

The climate-change industrial complex pontificates that the U.S. has to stop using coal to save the planet. But even if the U.S. cut our own coal production to zero, China and India are building hundreds of coal plants. By suspending American coal production we are merely transferring jobs out of the U.S.

Renewable energy is decades away from being a major energy source for the world. Until that happens, coal and natural gas will compete as low-priced, super-abundant, domestically produced energy sources for 21st-century America. Nuclear power will, I hope, continue to play an important role, too. Meanwhile, for all the talk of the growth in wind and solar industries, they still account for less than 10 percent of our energy. Almost 70 percent comes from natural gas and coal.

Coal isn’t dead in America. It is unleashed. As a Washington Times editorial put it very well recently, “The left gave up on the 100,000 coal workers in America more than a decade ago. Donald Trump has not.” Remember this the next time Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi lectures us about how much they care about the working class in America.

See the article here.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt: ‘War On Coal Is Done’

Via The Wheeling News-Register:

To the delight of dozens of miners at the CNX Coal Resources Harvey Mine, Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt declared an end to the “regulatory assault” on their industry.

Pruitt, appointed by President Donald Trump to head the EPA in the post-Obama administration era, spoke briefly at the Pennsylvania mine. The Harvey Mine is now officially part of a master limited partnership, which is sponsored by the facility’s long-time owner, Consol Energy.

Pruitt’s visit came just two weeks after Trump signed an executive order intended to overturn the Clean Power Plan, which former President Barack Obama and other Democrats had hoped would sharply cut CO2 emissions from power plants. The easiest way for power producers to meet the CPP goal would be to reduce coal burning because of the mineral’s high carbon content.

“The war on coal is done,” according to Pruitt.

“It’s really sad over the last several years that a regulatory body of the federal government of the U.S. would declare a war on a vital part of our economy,” he said.

Pruitt said what he has witnessed across the country is that in states in where oil, natural gas and coal are produced, leaders in those states are committed to being both “pro-environment, and pro-growth.”

“The days in which we had to choose between those two are over,” he said. “The past administration said we had to choose between the environment and job growth. This administration says the opposite.

“We can achieve both. We will.”

Pruitt said he came to Western Pennsylvania not just to celebrate the executive order signed by Trump, but to partner with and work together with the coal industry “to achieve positive outcomes.”

He responded to those who think the EPA is now “compromising outcomes” with respect to the environment as it relaxes regulations on coal-fired power plants.

“Lets look at what the past (Obama) administration achieved,” Pruitt said. “Almost 140 million live in areas non-compliant with respect to air quality.”

Pruitt said there are 1,322 Superfund sites across the country, and still problems with the water in Flint, Mich.

“We’re going to improve the environment in this country, protect our water, protect our air, but at the same time do it the American way — grow jobs, and show the world we can achieve it,” he said.

Pruitt thanked the miners and coal executives present “for persevering.”

“The regulatory assault is over,” he said. “We’re going to partner together….”

Pruitt spoke to the miners for a few minutes before joining coal executives upstairs at the Harvey Mine for a private roundtable discussion. He was also expected to take a tour of the mine.

The Harvey Mine, and the nearby Bailey and Enlow Fork mines make up the Pennsylvania complex of CNX Coal Resources. Together, they constitute the largest underground mine in the U.S. — encompassing an area that larger than Manhattan, according to CEO Jimmy Brock

The mines collectively employ 1,500, and produce 26 million to 28 million tons of coal per year.

Brock said while everyone in the coal industry has “felt a lot of pain” over the past eight years, they always believed there would still be a need for coal.

“It’s easy to be optimistic today,” he said. “As long as we work safely and protect the environment, the future is going to be great.”

Todd McNair, assistant superintendent at the Harvey Mine, said he also sees a brighter future for the coal industry.

“The new administration is at last willing to look at us, rather than not,” he said. “That in itself is positive.”

Lee Farrell, assistant superintendent at the Bailey Mine, said he has worked in the coal industry for 42 years.

“I’ve seen the struggles,” he said. “But, I have confidence that we have the right political people in place.”

See the article here.

Trump’s Coal Push Grinds into High Gear

Via The Washington Examiner:

The Trump administration could call Thursday “National Coal Day.”

Several Cabinet officials are spreading out to push clean coal, coal power plants and coal mining.

The activities got started Wednesday afternoon when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Native American leaders to brainstorm ways the Trump administration can help prevent one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the country from shutting down in Arizona.

The owners of the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal plant in the West, said they would close the plant in 2019 due to increased competition from natural gas, but might have to shutdown earlier if they can’t get a better lease agreement with the Navajo Nation, where the plant is located. The plant provides electricity to a number of states and is a major source of income and employment for the Navajo.

David Palumbo, deputy commissioner for operations at Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, said the administration is hopeful they can reach an agreement to extend operations beyond 2019, but are planning for the worst if the plant is forced to close. “We maintain our commitment to support these productive and constructive talks and have proposed to participate in the coming weeks,” Palumbo said. “At the same time, we recognize this is a difficult task among the stakeholders and therefore are exploring ways to minimize negative impacts should the plant close.”

On Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry will travel to his home state of Texas to celebrate the opening of an advanced clean coal power plant that has been under construction for years. The power plant generates electricity while stripping out the carbon dioxide from the waste stream. The CO2 is then used by oil drillers to get to hard-to-reach petroleum deposits deep underground in a process known as enhanced oil recovery.

The Petra Nova plant “is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture project,” the Energy Department said in a notice about Perry’s visit. The project is a joint venture between U.S. utility firm NRG Energy and the Tokyo-based JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. The project also received support from the Department of Energy.

Perry will be delivering remarks as part of a ribbon cutting ceremony, officially opening the plant.

Finally on Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will be traveling to coal country in Pennsylvania to kick off what the agency is calling its “Back to Basics” agenda.

See the article here.

Good Riddance to Obama’s Job-killing ‘Clean Power Plan’

Via The Delco Times:

It made for colorful news this week — President Trump announcing a halt to the Obama administration’s massive “Clean Power Plan.” Pundits immediately leapt to criticize the president, saying that canceling the plan would mean more costs and more “pollution” for America’s consumers.

Such fear-mongering is simply incorrect, though, and demonstrates that critics fundamentally misunderstand the science and logistics involved. The “pollutant” being regulated under the plan is carbon dioxide (CO2), the inert gas that all humans and animals expel every day. And while the climate debate is still raging over CO2’s potential contribution to a warmer climate, it’s simply wrong to argue that it is pollution. Thankfully, however, canceling the plan will save money — billions and billions of dollars that would have been earmarked for a vast overhaul of the nation’s power sector.

The plan’s proposed switchover to an entirely new power grid would have cost $51 billion in annual GDP, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the loss of 224,000 jobs each year. Among other things, the plan would have prematurely forced 25 percent of America’s low-cost, reliable coal generation capacity off the electric grid, enough to power 24 million homes.

Under the plan, the wholesale price of electricity for a typical household in 2020 would have been more than a third higher than in 2012 (for an average annual increase of $680), with 45 states facing double-digit increases in the wholesale cost of their electricity. All in all, according to Energy Ventures Analysis, Americans would have faced $214 billion in higher energy costs by 2030. And they would have had to come up with $64 billion to construct the new power lines and power plants needed to produce all of this power.

To President Obama, these costs were worthwhile, since they would have meant the rapid phase-out of coal — even though it currently generates 32 percent of the nation’s power supply. All in the quest to pursue higher-priced and less-reliable wind and solar power …

What would the public have gained for such huge sacrifices? A fully implemented plan would have yielded only a theoretical 0.018 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperatures by 2100. And it would have reduced industrial CO2 emissions by less than 1 percent. These are very insignificant achievements for such a staggering price tag. And so, when one considers the real-world costs, it becomes more and more apparent that President Trump just helped the nation to dodge a major bullet.

Unfortunately, misinformation plagues every aspect of this heated debate. Not only is carbon dioxide not a “pollutant,” but wind and solar power have yet to prove as reliable as coal in terms of scalability for electricity generation. That’s because wind and solar are intermittent — the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow — and they still require back-up generation from coal and gas plants.

All of this helps to explain why 27 states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to halt such a costly transformation of their energy grid. In fact, many of these states continue to depend on coal-fired power. It’s not just reliability and affordability at issue, however. America’s utility companies have spent many billions of dollars over the past decade to equip their power plants with advanced emissions-scrubbing technologies that make new coal plants 90 percent cleaner than ones they replaced 30 years ago — a worthwhile trade-off for the low-cost electricity they provide.

If America were luxuriating in budget surpluses and awash in high-wage jobs, there might be reasons to risk experimenting with our electricity grid. But in the current economic environment, it’s sensible for the president to maintain the energy diversity that coal provides by rejecting the Clean Power Plan as an expensive gamble — and one with little practical or environmental benefit.

Terry M. Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission

See the article here.

EPA Launches New Agenda in Coal Country

Via The Washington Examiner:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt joined the coal industry in Pennsylvania Thursday to launch what he called the agency’s “Back-to-Basics” agenda, in which Washington gets out of the way of states’ natural resources development.

“What better way to launch EPA’s Back-to-Basics agenda than visiting the hard-working coal miners who help power America,” said Pruitt, speaking at the Harvey Mine in Sycamore. “The coal industry was nearly devastated by years of regulatory overreach, but with new direction from President Trump, we are helping to turn things around for these miners and for many other hard-working Americans.”

The “Back-to-Basics” agenda means returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.”

The agenda involves a number of actions to roll back regulations affecting coal and other industries.

The agenda includes repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda, and the Waters of the U.S. rule, another EPA rule that the GOP has targeted as an egregious example of federal overreach. It also is canceling data collection requirements for methane emissions for the oil and gas industry, while establishing the EPA Regulatory Reform Task Force to conduct extensive reviews of “misaligned regulatory actions.”

In a joint statement with the EPA, the leaders of coal industry groups praised the agenda as a new beginning after the Obama administration.

 Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said Pruitt’s appearance should assure coal communities that “the days when our government stands in opposition to them are over and that the appreciation they deserve for securing the nation’s energy supply for our manufacturing industries and families is finally at hand.”
See the article here.

NMA Hails Pruitt’s Support for Coal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Mining Association (NMA) president and CEO Hal Quinn issued the following statement regarding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s visit today at the Harvey Mine and training complex in Pennsylvania:

“It’s encouraging to hear a senior government official recognize the contribution that America’s coal resources, the world’s largest, make to our nation’s economy and energy security. His comments are a welcome contrast to policies of the recent past that treated America’s largest energy resource as a political liability best left in the ground instead of as an invaluable asset to secure and project the nation’s energy dominance.

“The Harvey Mine is part of one of the largest underground coal mine complexes in the country and the home to an underground mining training academy. Featuring an array of the latest mining technologies, it showcases modern mining and the skills of our nation’s coal miners.

“His appearance should give confidence to coal communities across the country that the days when our government stands in opposition to them are over and that the appreciation they deserve for securing the nation’s energy supply for our manufacturing industries and families is finally at hand.”

See the press release here.

Big Coal Starts Hiring, Opening Plants, ‘Through the Roof’

Via The Washington Examiner:

West Virginia coal industry executive Mike Grose knows fake news when he sees it. And the headlines claiming that President Trump’s new executive order to dismantle clean power rules won’t revive mining employment were Exhibit A.

“It’s growing, a lot better than it ever was,” said Grose, owner of Superior and Elite Coal Services, a mining employment firm. “Once Trump was elected, I have increased staff 20-fold. Once he was elected, it went through the roof.”

From his office in central West Virginia, where he connects miners to several East Coast companies, Grose said that in anticipation of a Trump victory many mine operators readied for a hiring blitz. Smaller companies have begun to grab those that went bankrupt when former President Barack Obama targeted them with his Clean Power Plan.

“The industry knew what it was going to do, and it ramped up. They basically put the cart before the horse,” he said, adding that Trump’s promise to help the U.S. steel industry will mean even more coal mining jobs.

Luke Popovich of the National Mining Association said that Trump’s move at the very least will keep the coal industry open for business and slow the job drain.

Trump’s executive order and new coal leases approved by the Interior Department will “prevent further job losses,” he said. Better yet, “at least our government is not against us.”

The National Mining Association noted that Obama’s policies cost 64,000 mining jobs and Trump’s action killing the Clean Power Plan would “save 27,700 high-wage coal mining jobs along with another 99,700 in the coal supply chain including railroad workers, machinists, mechanics, truckers and other occupations that depend on coal mining.”

Mining country lawmakers also dismissed suggestions that Trump’s action wouldn’t lead to new jobs. Montana Sen. Steve Daines told the Washington Examiner, “The Obama regulations created uncertainty — whether it’s halting federal coal leasing or wiping out Colstrip Power Plant with the EPA Power Plan. These actions will stop the hemorrhaging from the industry and move toward putting coal back on the starting block — and let the market dictate.”

He also said that with global energy demand expected to spike 84 percent between now and 2050, “America either leads and powers the world or lets more dangerous nations strengthen their hold.”

See the article here.

Coal Should Be Part Of Energy Mix Given National Clean Power Plan Rollback

Via WIBW News:

A pro-coal attorney and former member of the Missouri Public Service Commission sees the rollback of the Clean Power Plan by President Donald Trump as a positive.

“Coal plants that were slated to close within the next three to four years will remain open,” said Terry Jarrett. “Coal will now be able to compete on a level playing field with all the other sources of fuel like natural gas and renewables. It takes that heavy-handed regulatory burden off the coal industry.”

It is important that the coal industry does its best to keep emissions clean while keeping price competitive.

“We need to use coal responsibly, there’s no doubt,” said Jarrett. “We need to make sure that if we’re going to burn it, that we’re not shooting a lot of pollutants up in the air, like they do in China and in other parts of the third world where they don’t have the environmental controls that we have in this country. We need to use it responsibly, but we do need to use it.”

This doesn’t mean stopping innovation, either.

“We need coal to be a part of our energy mix,” said Jarrett. “Along with natural gas, along with nuclear, along with hydroelectric, along with wind and solar. All of those are necessary for us to maintain reliable and affordable electricity in this country.”

The state of Kansas put its portion of the Clean Power Plan on hold last year due to legal issues at the Federal level.

See the article here.

The Climate Yawns

Via The Wall Street Journal:

The oddest criticism of Donald Trump’s climate action this week was the claim, mentioned almost triumphantly by every news source, that it would save few coal jobs. The economic and technological forces, especially the flood of low-carbon natural gas from fracking, are just too powerful.

Then why, if you’re a Democrat, put yourself in that position in the first place to take blame for killing coal jobs? Why enact a costly regulation to do what the market was doing for free? When everybody else wanted to blame the Florida recount for his 2000 defeat, Al Gore was smart enough privately to blame gun control. When you lose your home state as presidential candidate, something is wrong. The same blundering ineptitude explains how the Obama alliance with the greens threw away first Congress and then a presidency.

Of course the news reports are right: “The regulatory changes are entirely outweighed by these technological changes, not to mention the price of natural gas or renewables,” Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution was quoted telling the New York Times .

So potent and large are these global forces that repealing the Obama rules, costly as they are, not only won’t affect coal jobs, it won’t affect climate.

Gina McCarthy, Mr. Obama’s EPA administrator, admitted as much when confronted, during a 2015 House hearing, with the fact that, by the agency’s own climate models, the effect would be only 1/100th of a degree Celsius. Instead, she said success should be measured in terms of “positioning the U.S. for leadership in an international discussion.”

Even so, many climate activists felt the need to walk back Ms. McCarthy’s concession by insisting Obama policies would have a measurable effect—on the amount of CO 2 released. Yes, the relative decrease would be tiny but measurable, though the climate effect would be zip. This is akin to medical researchers claiming a drug a success because it’s detectable in the bloodstream, not because it improves health.

And don’t get us started on the “social cost of carbon,” a mechanism of policy justification created by the Obama EPA to assign a dollar-value benefit to carbon abatement rules that, in total, will produce zero impact on climate.

Pile up all the government policies enacted or seriously on the table, and their net effect is zilch. A new McKinsey study, that would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad, points out that Germany’s switch to renewables has been a success by almost every metric except CO 2 output—which is up instead of down.

Rising energy prices to support this energy transition have had one measurable effect—more than 330,000 German households have had their electricity shut off in the past year from nonpayment of bills almost three times as high as those paid by U.S. households.

Germany, needless to add, is many greens’ idea of a country “positioned for leadership in international discussions.”

No rational consideration, however, will abate the torrent of priestly imprecations hurled by green activists this week at Mr. Trump. The New York Times insists that Trumpian action “risks the planet”—plainly false since nothing either Mr. Trump or Mr. Obama did will make a difference to the planet.

Literally no amount of money dissipated on climate policy is excessive to such people, because their shamanistic status is directly proportional to the social waste they can conjure. In the realm of religion are we called upon to perform symbolic actions whose purpose (and cost) is aimed at testifying to our membership in the elect.

The most poignant question, however, is what happened to Democrats? They were once a party whose members cared whether policy was efficient and produced benefits for the American people.

Democrats deserve a large share of the credit for the rescue of the failing U.S. economy of the 1970s by throwing out a host of perverse regulatory policies, not that they embrace or even acknowledge this legacy today—which is the problem.

Airline deregulation was born in Ted Kennedy’s administrative practice subcommittee. His aide, Stephen Breyer, now a Supreme Court justice, recalled a working-class Boston constituent asking why the senator was focused on airline issues when this voter could never afford to fly. “That is why,” said Kennedy.

The Democratic Party once had a brain where regulation was concerned, understanding that the ultimate purpose was a net public good, not an in-gathering of power to Washington for the benefit of lobbyists and influence peddlers.

It was not yet today’s Democratic Party of Chuck Schumer, who isn’t stupid and yet is associated with no body of policy thought or analysis. If he even has anybody on his staff deputized to think about the results of policy, it probably is the lowliest intern.

A wrecking ball of a president was the Trump electorate’s answer to this problem. It’s hard even now to say they were wrong. If he delivers nothing in the next four years, it is alarming to suspect that this likely would still be a better result than we would have gotten under Hillary Clinton.

See the article here.

Trump’s Rollback of Coal Rules Electrifies Wyoming Workers

Via The Observer-Reporter:

This hardscrabble Wyoming city of about 30,000 people proclaims itself the “Energy Capital of the Nation” on the mayor’s blue blazer and even the parking ticket payment boxes.

Nearby are some of the world’s largest open-pit mines, where dump trucks the size of houses haul out more than 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States. The windy, wide-open landscape around Gillette also has substantial reserves of natural gas, oil and uranium.

So, when President Donald Trump lifted a federal coal leasing moratorium and ordered a review of greenhouse gas regulations, the announcement electrified many workers here who depend on fossil fuels for their livelihood. After years of layoffs and corporate bankruptcies, they are optimistic jobs and a better economy will soon return.

“It’s not all rosy right now. But anytime you can see the future and know that the United States, you know, is working with you rather than against you, that alone is nice,” Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King said. She predicts the community will “come out of this bigger and better than ever” thanks to clean-coal technology and overseas exports.

But the skepticism expressed by many economists and energy experts throughout the campaign has not eased. They say the global coal market has little room for additional coal from Wyoming and especially from Appalachia, where mines are not just scaling back but closing altogether.

Nationwide, the coal industry has shed some 60,000 jobs, or more than 40 percent of its nonoffice workforce, since 2011.

“Utilities are just staying away from coal. So that hasn’t changed. That didn’t change after the election, and it hasn’t changed since the executive order,” said Rob Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming. “The problem is that with the stroke of a pen, the president can’t change market conditions very easily.”

Academics with doctorates aren’t dampening Gillette’s newfound optimism for Trump’s order.

“I think it’s freaking great,” said Scott Baysinger, operations manager of Baysinger Trucking, which supplies dump trucks and other heavy machinery to the coal industry. “Last year was a horrible year for us. This year already is better. We’ve been better all year long.”

Last year, in fact, was the worst for U.S. coal production since 1978. Utilities continued to switch to cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity, and the cost of wind and solar energy continued to decline.

Around here, President Barack Obama’s regulations got much of the blame. Trump reaped the benefit, winning Wyoming and another coal state, West Virginia, by his widest margins in the nation. Within Wyoming, Trump won biggest in Campbell County, which includes Gillette.

On Tuesday, he repaid the favor by announcing he would review Obama’s Clean Power Plan and lift the 14-month-old coal leasing moratorium.

Stacey Moeller, a shovel operator at Peabody Energy’s Caballo Mine, said the changes will put coal back on a level playing field after Obama tipped it in favor of renewable energy for eight years.

“That’s all I ever thought was fair, was that we would be allowed to compete in the market,” she said. “And that’s what I felt was being taken away from us.”

The federal government owns nearly all of the coal reserves in the Powder River Basin and leases them to companies to mine. Even before the Obama moratorium, market forces had all but halted new leasing. To many, the measure seemed like insult on top of injury.

Last year, around 500 miners were laid off as several large mining companies went through bankruptcy.

Whether Arch Coal, Peabody or Contura Energy rehire all those workers or resume significant leasing remains to be seen. The companies have not announced any major new projects yet.

But business is already brightening at some of the heavy machinery dealerships that line a Gillette road where they sell excavators, bulldozers, forklifts and other equipment to the mines.

The perk-up began the day after the election, when a couple of customers placed orders to complete projects they would have abandoned if Democrat Hillary Clinton had won, said Richard Chafee, general manager of Jack’s Truck & Equipment.

“You talk about consumer confidence,” Chafee said with a chuckle. “We’ve had very good consumer confidence here last three months.”

Still, the coal critics aren’t limited to scientists and scholars. On the Turner Crest Ranch, greyish-orange clouds from mine blasting appear on the horizon like clockwork. Ranchers Karen and L.J. Turner have little good to say about Black Thunder and the other huge mines near their place, which they blame for their creeks and wells running dry.

“I think all these people that are hanging on for dear life to their coal mining jobs ought to, you know, see the writing on the wall and say, ‘OK, what can I do?’ Something else,” said Karen Turner, who like her husband is a lifelong Democrat.

Economists tend to agree, pointing out that the cost of renewables will continue to decline and their appeal will continue to grow along with global interest in reducing greenhouse gases. The prospect of low-carbon coal, meanwhile, remains far off, even as Wyoming and other states team up on a carbon-capture lab under construction at a power plant near Gillette.

Exporting coal to the Far East does not much promise either, Godby said, in part because Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on imports from China, South Korea, Japan and other countries that might want to use Powder River Basin coal.

“If he does that, I think it’s pretty fair to expect that they would do a tit-for-tat tariff strategy,” he said. And coal could be among the commodities that get “hit directly.”

For now, the election continues to send good vibes through the community.

After Trump’s victory, the mood of the town was “just electric,” the mayor recalled. “You went into the restaurants, they were busy, bustling. People were happy. There’s a lot to be said for hope.

See the article here.