The October issue of the American Coal e-newsletter is now available.
Click below for the latest news about America’s energy — coal.
By FTI Consulting
(August 30, 2018) — A trade war has been brewing between the U.S. and many other countries. What started as tariffs on 18 products in January 2018 has grown to encompass more than 10,000 products. The trade war escalated when President Trump imposed additional import duties on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S. from other countries.
These tariffs stand at 25% for steel and 10% for aluminum with very few countries exempted. The tariffs have spurred retaliatory actions from several major U.S. trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, China, and the 28 members of the European Union.
To provide a tangible, quantitative view of how steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory tariffs will impact the U.S. and other countries, FTI Consulting utilized the Global Trade Analysis Project (“GTAP”) model, a dynamic model of international trade and finance, to simulate the budding trade war. The GTAP model can analyze international trade across 57 different industries and 140 countries and regions across the world. We examined two tariff scenarios – one without and one with retaliatory tariffs from the U.S.’s trading partners facing the steel and aluminum tariffs.
The analysis and results presented here—which considers the generalized macroeconomic effect of tariffs on metals and specific retaliatory actions—is not exhaustive. With trade and tariff policy-related news changing daily, continued analysis designed to better understand the impacts must be both detailed and dynamic.
National Energy Technology Labs
MORGANTOWN, WV (October 9, 2018) — NETL Researchers Paul Ohodnicki, Ph.D., and Dustin McIntyre, Ph.D., have worked with optical sensors and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for years, adapting their respective technologies to fit different applications. When the U.S. Department of Energy recently made securing a domestic supply of rare earth elements (REEs) a priority, both researchers realized that portable sensors were uniquely suited to achieve this goal.
The nation needs rare earths to manufacture modern technology, but almost all REEs are imported from off-shore. In 2017, DOE and NETL reported to congress that coal and coal byproducts could be viable sources for a domestic supply of rare earths. While this discovery would put the nation on a path to independence from foreign sources of REEs, many technical challenges first needed to be addressed.
That is where Ohodnicki and McIntyre come in. Among the many different approaches to securing domestic REEs from coal and coal byproducts, one crucial step of any potential REE operation is the accurate identification and characterization of REEs in sources like waste streams from coal mining operations. Each researcher’s sensor could be used to determine if rare earths exist in sufficient concentrations to warrant their separation and extraction and to monitor rare earth processing streams.
By Beau Rothschild
NEW YORK, NY (October 5, 2018) — Next month, United Nations scientists are set to report that we can no longer win the battle against climate change by reducing carbon emissions: we have to start draining those emissions from the air. This conclusion simply adds to a growing scientific consensus that carbon removal technologies that actively remove CO2 already in circulation can be delayed no longer. Thus far, the U.S. government has only shown lukewarm support for these technologies, but America has as much to gain as anyone from their mass adoption. It’s time for President Donald J. Trump and his administration to take a second look at this issue to put America first in carbon capture technology.
The UN report is hardly surprising given the problems that have blighted the Paris climate agreement. Trump, of course, has already pulled out, and many other countries are showing indifference; a report earlier this year ranked three-quarters of EU member-states “poor” in their attempts to meet their Paris obligations. A recent meeting, supposed to lay down a set of rules for the agreement’s implementation, ended in deadlock – the latest in a series of tetchy summits that have exposed political fault lines in the accord.
By Ron Patterson
WASHINGTON, DC (October 3, 2018) – EIA released the latest edition of their Electric Power Monthly on September 25th, with data for July 2018. The table above shows the percentage contribution of the main fuel sources to two decimal places for the last two months and the year to date.
For the month of July, the total amount of electricity generated was the second highest amount generated for any single month since January 2013 at 410,148 GWh, 2,302 GWh less than the amount generated in July 2016. Coal and Natural Gas fueled almost 68.5 percent of US electricity generation in July and while the contribution from Coal increased from 27.36 percent in June to 28.18 percent in July, the contribution from Natural Gas also increased by slightly more than five percentage points, reaching an unprecedented 40.28 percent up from 35.02 percent in June. Nuclear power generated 72,456 GWh, 3.97 percent more than it did in June but, due to the increase in total generation, the percentage contribution to the total actually declined to 17.67 percent from 18.77 percent in June.
“Power Reset: Optimizing the Existing U.S. Coal Fleet to Ensure a Reliable and Resilient Power Grid”
National Coal Council
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 3, 2018) – Calling abundant, affordable and diverse domestic energy the underpin of economic prosperity, members of the National Coal Council (NCC) approved a new report offering four steps to optimize the existing U.S. coal fleet in the power portfolio for reliability and resilience of the electric grid. The report, completed at the request of U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, concludes that safeguarding the stability of our energy supply should be built around four core objectives to:
- ASSESS the value of the coal fleet;
- SUPPORT efforts to retain continued operation of the existing coal fleet;
- REFORM the regulatory environment; and
- RENEW investment in coal generation.
“Coal is foundational for the stability of our energy system and is part of a diverse energy portfolio that keeps America’s power supply reliable, affordable and secure,” said NCC Chair Deck Slone, a Senior Vice President for Strategy and Public Policy at Arch Coal. “Our national and economic security are greatly enhanced by our use of domestic coal, which is abundant and can provide power whenever we need it.”
By L.M. Sixel
HOUSTON (September 20, 2018) — Nearly one-third of U.S. households face energy insecurity at least once a year because they can’t afford to pay their bills or even turn on their heat or air conditioning. Millions more must choose between food and electricity every month.
The Energy Department studies household energy consumption patterns and found that in 2015, a year when household energy costs were the lowest in more than a decade, households across the nation struggled to pay for electricity, natural gas and other household fuels.
About 25 million households, or one in five, reported they went without or cut back on necessities like medicine and food at least once a year to pay their energy bills. About 7 million households face that decision nearly every month, according to the study.
By Gavin Bade
WASHINGTON, DC (October 4, 2018) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Department of Energy official Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seeking to fill a vacant seat on the commission with an ally of its plans to aid struggling coal and nuclear plants.
McNamee, who heads the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, will fill a seat on FERC vacated by former Commissioner Robert Powelson, who stepped down in August. McNamee is expected to align closer with the administration’s policy priorities than Powelson, who routinely criticized the administration’s efforts to support uneconomic generators.
McNamee’s nomination comes as FERC grapples with high-profile questions of grid resilience, pipeline approvals and state policy preferences while it waits for a coming plant bailout proposal from the White House. McNamee must be confirmed by the Senate to take his seat.
Less meat, coal key to a cooler planet
An accelerated withdrawal from coal and a change in the global diet away from meat are needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, leaked copies of a major new climate report say.
Scientists and diplomats are meeting in South Korea this week to finalise the report that distils the findings of more than 6000 scientific papers.
The 400-page report, scheduled to be released on Sunday, has been described by scientists involved as the most “politically charged” document in the history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The draft talks of “climate mayhem” and “a swift and complete transformation not just of the global economy, but of society, too”.
This is despite claims by reviewer Bob Ward from London’s Grantham Institute that scientists had “pulled their punches” to make policy recommendations seem more palatable to countries such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
WASHINGTON, DC, August 21, 2018– The American Coal Council appreciates the administration’s continuing focus on regulatory reform, and EPA’s proposal to replace the prior administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule announced today is another big step forward. The CPP as promulgated in 2015 was unprecedented in its scope and reach. In practical terms, it was a nationwide strategy to force the power sector away from coal, treat natural gas as a transition fuel, and unwisely and unrealistically rely on energy efficiency and renewable energy for providing electricity on demand 24/7/365.
The U.S. Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of issuing a stay to the CPP rule in early 2016 before the lower court had even ruled on the many legal challenges that were filed including by more than half of the states.
EPA has acknowledged that the CPP rule exceeded its authority. The ACE proposal “returns to an interpretation of the Clean Air Act that is consistent with the Agency’s longstanding practice and historical understanding of the scope, and the limits, of its legal authority under section 111” as stated in EPA’s Legal Overview of the rule.
This includes a return to an “inside the fence line” basis for determining the Best System of Emissions Reduction (BSER) for greenhouse gases. The BSER will apply to individual stationary electric generating sources, rather than the entire electric grid as the CPP’s BSER was inappropriately designed to do. The ACE rule focuses on efficiency improvements to reduce emissions. Importantly, it addresses the longstanding regulatory “New Source Review” barrier to improvement projects at power plants.
Replacing the CPP with ACE will result in $3.4 billion in net benefits as projected by EPA.
EPA also recognizes the important role of the states in the ACE rule, and appropriately rebalances the federal-state regulatory relationships.
The ACE proposal is a prudent approach by EPA to remedying the CPP breach.
The American Coal Council represents the collective interests of the American coal industry from the hole-in-the-ground to the plug-in-the-wall ~ in advocating for coal as an economic, abundant and environmentally sound fuel source.