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.
London (Platts)–13 Jun 2018
Premium coking coal prices have surged again, boosting their premiums second-tier HCC and PCI.
On March 23, the TSI HCC FOB Australia was 2.6% below the premium benchmark, the narrowest gap seen to date this year.
Mid-tier PCI spot prices were at a 68.65% relativity to Premium HCC on Wednesday, and an average of 75% in May.
Mid-tier PCI may be used for injection, and in the coke blend, lending a tight differential with prices for low-vol PCI spot assessments, which were at a $1/mt premium over mid-tier PCI on average in May.
Singapore (Platts)–21 Jun 2018
A potential 25% tariff on US coking coals to China may have little long-term impact on most Chinese buyers, though concern about defaults on recent trades is mounting, market sources said.
Earlier in June, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said US exports to China may face additional 25% tariffs. The additional tariff may include US coking coal exports to China.
S&P Global Platts news feature: China-US trade war
This is an abrupt about face which could hit several Chinese buyers, particularly those that have bought US coking coal.
SOPOT, POLAND (June 6, 2018) – Atlantic Basin coking coal prices lifted higher Tuesday, especially for premium grade material, on renewed tightness in Australia and stronger spot demand to restock in China and India with such grades.
A problem with a vessel loader at Abbot Point, Queensland, along with tighter railing availability in Queensland through the critical Goonyella line, were talking points in the market.
Any move to buy more US coal may be limited by general coverage in contracts, and higher volumes committed into buyers, or held for regular inquiries.
High-vol B tightness and steady contract demand may limit attempts to cover gaps in supplies out of Australia with higher quality US high-vol A, mid-vol and other coals.
By Terry Jarrett
Williamson Daily News
Coal is in the news again, thanks to the Trump Administration. But this time there’s a new wrinkle. The administration is aiming for a high-tech approach that could appeal to climate change activists looking to secure realistic reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it is considering investment in the development of small-scale, “modular” coal plants that some are calling the power plants of the future. These compact generating stations can achieve extremely high energy efficiencies, and would be doubly clean when paired with new, cutting-edge systems to enhance the capture of exhaust emissions.
It’s clear that President Trump is standing behind his commitment to revitalize America’s coal sector. But technological advances are emerging that may indeed validate his decision – including an array of systems to fine-tune the trapping of exhaust gases and particulate matter.
To date, America’s coal fleet has invested more than $122 billion on such specialized “scrubbing” equipment. But coal could transition further into the realm of high-tech now that “Super-critical” and “Ultra-supercritical” power plants are coming online to burn coal at far higher temperatures. Under such intense heat and pressure, coal burns more efficiently, yielding lower CO2 emissions per kilowatt generated.
By Matthew Daly
WASHINGTON (June 4, 2018) – Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s call to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants, saying a rash of plant retirements is “alarming” and poses a looming crisis for the nation’s power grid.
Experts disagree and say Trump is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
In a speech in Austin, Texas, Perry said coal and nuclear plants “are retiring at an alarming rate that, if unchecked, will threaten our ability to recover from intentional attacks and natural disasters.”
“The president is right to view grid resilience as a serious national security issue,” Perry said at a conference on cybersecurity.
By Ben Sharples
The heat is on in the global coal market.
Prices of Newcastle coal are at the highest level since 2012 after surging 24 percent since mid-April to $112.05 a metric ton on Thursday as China maintains robust demand during unseasonably hot weather. Despite measures imposed by the top user to cool soaring domestic prices, international miners are on a roll after a five-year downturn that shuttered mines and cost jobs.
China’s power producers have been challenged by extreme weather in 2018, from a cold snap in January to a heatwave in May, draining stockpiles. The nation has boosted coal imports by 8.2 percent to 121 million tons in the first five months this year even as policymakers imposed restrictions on some shipments. Australian cargoes bound for China jumped to an all-time high in April.
By Miranda Green
WASHINGTON, DC (April 19, 2018) – The Trump administration is looking into a Cold War-imposed statute to prop up U.S. coal plants, Bloomberg reports.
The administration is considering implementing the 68-year-old Defense Production Act, which was first passed by Congress in the midst of the Korean War as a way to nationalize an energy industry necessary in times of war.
The Trump administration aims to use the same statute to bolster long-struggling coal and nuclear power plants, various sources tell Bloomberg.