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OSMRE is Now Accepting Nominations for the 2018 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 20, 2018) – The Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards are presented to coal mining companies that achieve the most exemplary coal mine reclamation in the nation. Past winners have demonstrated a commitment to sound mining practices and effective reclamation plans that enhanced beneficial post-mining use of the land. OSMRE has honored high quality coal mine land reclamation since 1986.
Award winners are recognized for developing innovative reclamation techniques or who have completed reclamation that resulted in outstanding on-the-ground performance. The awards program is designed to help state and Federal regulators transfer outstanding reclamation methods and techniques from award-winning operations to other coal mine operators who work under the Surface Mining Law nationwide.
Coal companies, regulatory authorities, state or Federal mine inspectors, interest groups, or landowners may submit nominations. Company officials and employees may nominate their own operations.
View previous Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards Winners.
By Jim Levesque
Houston (Feb. 28, 2018) – US coal carload volumes totaled 85,600 in the week ended February 24, down 2.7% from the previous week but up 0.9% from the year-ago week, the Association of American Railroads said Wednesday.
The total marked the first year-over-year increase in weekly volumes of 2018.
Cumulative volumes the first eight weeks of 2018 are down by 4.5%, or 31,000 carloads, from the same period a year ago.
Canadian railroads – which include the US operations of Canadian National, which serves several mines in the Illinois Basin, and Canadian Pacific – saw originations fall to 5,520 coal carloads, down 15.4% from the previous week and down 14% from the same week last year.
Canadian coal volumes year to date have slipped 3% from the same 2017 period.
By Tom Lutey
Cheyenne, WY (Feb. 21, 2018) – Montana and Wyoming attorneys general are pushing back on a proposed Washington state carbon tax.
Attorney General Tim Fox joined Wyoming AG Peter K. Michael in asserting that Washington cannot regulate environmental issues beyond its borders. Both states have coal-fired power plants owned by utilities selling electricity in Washington, where Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee are advancing Senate Bill 6203, a $10-a-ton tax on carbon dioxide from various sources including power plants fired by natural gas and coal.
“Washington state obviously does not have the jurisdiction to regulate environmental issues in Montana and Wyoming,” the Republican attorneys general wrote. “Yet the clear intent of SSB 6203 is to force non-Washington power generation facilities into compliance with Washington air quality regulations through the imposition of a tax on carbon dioxide emitted outside Washington.”
By Brady Dennis
Washington, DC (Feb. 12, 2018) – The White House is seeking to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency — an overall reduction of more than 23 percent.
The fiscal 2019 proposal released Monday marks the Trump administration’s latest attempt to shrink the reach of an agency the president once promised to reduce to “little tidbits.” The EPA already has lost hundreds of employees to buyouts and retirements over the past year, and its staffing is now at Reagan-era levels.
Under the latest budget, the agency would continue to shrink in size and ambition, leaving much more of the work of environmental protection to individual states. The administration said Monday that its proposal will help “return the EPA to its core mission,” reduce “unnecessary reporting burdens on the regulated community,” and eliminate programs that “create unnecessary redundancies or those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission.”
Coal Age Staff
(Feb. 15, 2018) – China’s Qinhuangdao port started to cap thermal coal prices for FOB 5,500 kcal/kg coal at RMB750 per metric ton (mt) ($118.28/mt), following a request from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Colder-than-normal weather in January resulted in strong thermal coal demand and a subsequent increase in prices. Spot thermal coal prices for FOB Qinhuangdao 5,500 kcal/kg reportedly reached RMB780/mt ($123/mt) recently.
These high prices and the potential for them to rise even further is likely what prompted NDRC to intervene.
“The price cap will have an impact from now until mid-March,” said Zhai Yu, northeast Asia senior consultant, Wood Mackenzie. “Demand for thermal coal will fall in February during the Chinese New Year holiday. But supply will also fall for the same reason. After the holiday period, demand will quickly return and restocking by gencos will add additional demand. Without the price cap, we do not expect prices for FOB QHD 5,500 to drop below RMB750 per ton until the middle of March, when the need for heating coal disappears.”
The price cap will be difficult to implement, Yu said. The measure impacts thermal coal prices, Yu explained, but it is only the power industry that has called for coal prices to be restricted. “As electricity tariffs are fixed, high coal prices resulted in big losses for the gencos in 2017,” Yu said. “Non-power industries aren’t so bothered by coal price fluctuations as their product prices are market-driven and can adapt accordingly.”
Coal Age Staff
(Feb. 22, 2018) – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy selected seven projects to receive $44 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development through the announcement, Design and Testing of Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies.
“These projects will advance competitive operation of our nation’s fossil-based power-generation infrastructure by reducing energy consumption and capital costs associated with next-generation carbon capture systems,” the DOE statement said.
The projects will target one of two areas: engineering scale testing of transformational solvent- or membrane-based carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technologies or designing a commercial-scale, post-combustion CO2 capture system at an existing coal-fueled generating unit. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the selected projects.
Salt Lake City, UT (Feb. 28, 2018) – Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.
The Royalty Policy Committee wants to make it easier and cheaper for companies to get coal, oil and gas from federal lands and U.S. waters.
According to a meeting agenda, the committee will propose changing how companies pay royalties on coal.
Dan Bucks ran Montana’s budget for a number of years and says the committee’s recommendations will benefit the industry and not taxpayers.
“It will allow companies more power to pay less and it will also give the companies more ability to fail to meet their environmental responsibilities,” Bucks said.
Kathleen Sgamma is an energy lobbyist and a member of the Royalty Policy Committee. She says slashing royalty rates will bring more business and more money to the federal government.
“The more we can produce, the more we can return royalties to the federal government,” Sgamma said.
And that’s good, she says, for both parties.
ACC Comments Submitted to EPA on State Guidelines for GHG Emissions from Existing Electric Generation Units
The American Coal Council submitted comments in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dec. 28, 2017 advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding State Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units.
Following are excerpts from ACC’s comments:
“As EPA considers a replacement of the CPP, we urge consideration of an approach in conformity with a traditional interpretation of the Clean Air Act on an ‘inside the fence line’ basis. This would limit emissions reductions to measures that can be implemented at the source – a single stationary power generation source or electric generating unit (EGU). Any such measures must be based on a physical or operational change to a building, structure, facility or installation at the source.
Trump’s EPA Responds to FOIA Request Obama Completely Ignored
By Michael Bastasch
The Daily Caller
(Dec. 27, 2017) – The Environmental Protection Agency sent The Daily Caller News Foundation a Christmas present this year by finally responding to a records request from more than two years ago.
Well, it wasn’t all holiday cheer. EPA said The DCNF needed to narrow down its two-year-old request for emails between Obama administration officials and environmental groups regarding the Clean Power Plan.
By Taylor Kuykendall
(DEC. 22, 2017) – Political rhetoric around the coal industry may have sounded to some like the promise of a comeback, but many in the sector are simply hoping for a year of stability after markets finally took a turn for the better.
Coal companies, railroads and analysts have suggested 2018 demand could be roughly flat compared to 2017, a year in which coal volumes sprang back off record lows. A relatively warm winter so far could temper early domestic demand, while exports could soften after special circumstances including weather-related events sparked especially strong demand in 2017.