WASHINGTON – Wyoming’s coal industry has rebounded from the dire circumstances of a year ago, when its three largest companies were in bankruptcy and stockpiles of coal still sat idle at power plants and mine sites across the country.
Those companies have since restructured, wiping away billions in debt in the process. And the overstock of coal has largely burned down.
Wyoming companies, energy experts and environmentalists agree that a new normal has set in for coal in Wyoming, where companies are operating at lower costs and producing less coal with fewer miners. It is a time for tightening belts and operating efficiently, not expanding.
Coal exports for the first quarter of 2017 were 58% higher than in the same quarter last year, with steam coal exports increasing by 6 million short tons (MMst) and metallurgical coal exports increasing by 2 MMst. Most of these exports were shipped from Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico ports. In EIA’s most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA expects growth in coal exports to slow in the coming months, with total 2017 exports forecast at 72 MMst, 11 MMst (19%) higher than the 2016 level.
With coal exports running well below export capacity, no significant expansions of coal export facilities in the United States are currently under construction. Coal export capacity in 2016 totaled 257 MMst, compared with total coal exports of 61 MMst. Facilities in the Norfolk, Virginia, area alone have the capacity to export approximately 84 MMst annually—more than the total amount of coal exported from all U.S. ports in 2016.
WASHINGTON, DC — Coal is still very much at the center of the debate on the future of energy. For some, the holy grail is a new type of technology that captures some coal carbon emissions. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins Judy Woodruff to take a closer look at the results coming out of one of the largest fossil fuel power plants in the country and the obstacles stopping them from collecting more.
By Stewart Leavenworth
WASHINGTON — Any day now, a federal appeals court in Denver is expected to rule on a case with major repercussions for coal mining on western public lands, one that could potentially affect other energy projects.
Depending on its decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals could force the U.S. Interior Department to more extensively analyze how expansion of coal mining on federal land affects carbon emissions.
Or it could keep in place the Interior Department’s current method of reviewing new coal leases, which is supported by the mining industry but opposed by many environmental groups.
By CHARLES BOOTHE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. — A Bluefield, WV engineering firm has received a $1 million federal grant for a research project. Marshall Miller & Associates (MM&A) was awarded the grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said Steve Keim, senior vice presidentof MM&A. Keim said the grant will be used to study rare earth elements in coal and coal ash.
By Louis Jacobson
On the one hand, coal is a high-carbon-emissions fuel that is at a disadvantage under the Paris agreement and could potentially benefit from the United States’ exit from the accord. On the other, some experts have said that the demise of coal as an energy source has less to do with emissions than with lost market share to a competing fossil fuel — natural gas — and technological improvements that have bolstered renewable energies such as wind and solar.
The coal industry has long chafed at the BLS’ definition of coal-sector jobs. Terry Headley, the director of communications for the American Coal Council, said that coal employment numbers compiled independently by states are typically much larger than what BLS has found, perhaps because many states use broader definitions of who should be counted.
For instance, Headley said, coal truck drivers — probably numbering several thousand nationally — are not broken out from the BLS data for “truck drivers.” The situation is similar for electricians, surveyors, mechanics, and equipment service technicians, he said.
In West Virginia alone, he said, state data for 2015 show 48,327 in the category of miners, mine support, and onsite processing staff. “If you look purely at the federal numbers you will only get about 12,000 for the state,” he said.
Additional comments from ACC on this subject are found in several other publications including this in the Daily Caller.
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States, China and India, the world’s largest coal users, have increased coal mining this year by 6 percent following 2016’s record global decline.
Among the three counties, production through May is up by at least 121 million tons compared to the same period last year, according to data reviewed by The Associated Press. The change is most dramatic in the United States where production is up 19 percent within just the first five months of 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
WASHINGTON, DC June 2, 2017 – The announcement by President Trump of the decision to withdraw from the Paris accord is consistent with his earlier statements of concern about the agreement. After meetings with the G7 last week and further consideration by his administration, he expressed continuing concern about the harm it would cause the United States.
President Trump put in context the staggering cost of the Paris accord to the U.S. economy which he estimated at $3 trillion, and the insignificant impact it would have on global carbon dioxide emissions.
The President made clear that the American people, the economy and jobs – including coal jobs – are his top priorities. The Paris accord would put America at a competitive disadvantage and our nation’s abundant energy resources under lock and key. He reiterated continuing plans to reduce job-killing regulations and bring jobs, plants and factories back.
America is an environmental leader and the administration’s decision does not diminish that. Technology and innovation have resulted in tremendous air quality improvements, including from our nation’s coal-fueled power plants. More than 90% of the existing coal fleet is equipped with advanced emissions controls. For new coal plants, the use of HELE technologies – high efficiency, low emissions – reduces both conventional and CO2 emissions. Emissions reductions globally will be furthered by the continued development and deployment of these clean energy technologies.
ACCCE President Refutes Recent Report saying Regulations were not the Primary Cause of Coal Power Plant Retirements
By Paul Bailey – President & CEO
WASHINGTON, DC (May 9, 2017) — A recent report —“Can Coal Make a Comeback?”—asserts that environmental regulations are a secondary influence in decisions to retire coal-fired electric generating units. We disagree with this assertion.
Specifically, the authors of the report “believe” that low natural gas and renewable costs are more important in retirement decisions than environmental regulations. However, the report provides no analysis to support this belief.
On the other hand, ACCCE has closely tracked the reasons for coal plant retirements over the past five years. While not all retirements have been attributed to environmental regulations, it’s clear from official company statements — including, for example, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. and state public utility commissions — that environmental regulations have played a significant role in the vast majority of those retirements. In fact, three-fourths of all coal retirements, so far, have been attributed to EPA regulations.
By Michael Bastach
(Daily Caller) — A new study published by seasoned researchers takes aim at the heart of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to issue regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
The study claims to have “proven that it is all but certain that EPA’s basic claim that CO2 is a pollutant is totally false,” according to a press statement put out by Drs. Jim Wallace, John Christy and Joe D’Aleo.
Wallace, Christy and D’Aleo — a statistician, a climatologist and meteorologist, respectively — released a study claiming to invalidate EPA’s 2009 endangerment finding, which allowed the agency to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.
“This research failed to find that the steadily rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 14 temperature data sets that were analyzed,” the authors say in the release for the second edition of their peer-reviewed work.
“Moreover, these research results clearly demonstrate that once the solar, volcanic and oceanic activity, that is, natural factor, impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no ‘record setting’ warming to be concerned about,” the researchers say. “In fact, there is no natural factor adjusted warming at all.”
The study is intended to bolster a petition Wallace and D’Aleo filed with EPA as part of the Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC), asking the agency to reconsider its endangerment finding.
The libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) also filed a petition with EPA to reconsider the endangerment finding. The Trump administration has not indicated whether or not they will reconsider the Obama-era finding. Any challenge would be met with legal action from environmental activists.
CHECC’s petition relies on findings from a 2016 study by Wallace and company that found the three lines of evidence EPA relied on for its 2009 endangerment finding weren’t scientifically sound.
Wallace’s new study makes a similar finding, arguing the “tropical hot spot” EPA claims will occur as humans pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere “simply does not exist in the real world.”
EPA issued its endangerment finding for six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, in 2009. The agency found that greenhouse gases from vehicles “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.”
The finding gave the Obama administration the legal cover it needed to move forward with regulations to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, power plants, industrial facilities and agriculture.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in March to roll back many Obama global warming policies and directives, but some say the administration needs to eliminate the endangerment finding to keep future presidents from regulating CO2.
“Claims like that rest entirely on the endangerment finding,” said Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Congress during his January confirmation hearing he saw no reason at the time to review the endangerment finding.
Sources have also told news outlets Pruitt got Trump to strip language from an executive order that would have ordered a review of the endangerment finding.
On the other hand, sources familiar with Pruitt’s thinking on the matter say he wants to review the endangerment finding, but is biding his time.
Wallace and his coauthors want to give Pruitt a reason to update the endangerment finding. Wallace and company say in their release that “there is no published, peer reviewed, statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations have caused the officially reported rising, even claimed record setting temperatures.”
“And, EPA’s climate models fail to meet this test,” the authors say.