WVCA and WV Coal Forum Host Forum on Coal Exports in Martinsburg

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MARTINSBURG – The West Virginia Coal Forum with co-hosts the Chamber of Commerce of Martinsburg & Berkeley County, Jefferson County Economic Development Authority, Berkeley County Economic Development Authority, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Panhandle Business Association conducted a meeting on Wednesday, September 4th to discuss the significance of the coal industry and coal exports to the Eastern Panhandle, our state and the nation at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn.

 

Coal Forum Co-Chairmen Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association, and Fred Tucker, UMWA, welcomed the more than 70 event attendees and set the stage for the meeting.

 

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito headlined the event and expressed her support for the mining industry and the benefits it provides to the state, including the Eastern Panhandle, and the nation.  She stated that EPA’s ongoing regulatory actions are clearly a ‘war on coal’ and that she will continue to do all she can to maintain fairness and industry viability.

 

While Senator Joe Manchin was unable to attend the meeting, he sent a representative to read a statement.  In the statement he offered his appreciation for the event and those participating, and expressed the importance of understanding the benefits mining provides the state and country.

 

Several Eastern Panhandle legislators were in attendance at the event, including Del. Tiffany Lawrence, Del. John Overington, Del. Ron Walters and others.  Senator John Unger, Senator Majority Leader, and Delegate Daryl Cowles, House Minority Whip, addressed the group, highlighting the impact mining has on the region and thanking the event organizers for coming to the area to discuss this important topic.

 

Bill Raney, president of the WV Coal Association, and Mark Muchow, deputy secretary for the WV Division of Tax & Revenue, shared statistics demonstrating the importance of mining to the Eastern Panhandle, as well as the state.  They informed the group that the Eastern Panhandle has received nearly $52 million from coal severance funding through the Infrastructure, Jobs & Development Council since 1994.  These funds have been used to leverage tens of millions of dollars in other funding to maintain and upgrade water lines, wastewater treatment and to pursue economic development initiatives.  Additionally, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties received over $820,000 in municipal and county severance tax distributions in 2012. 

 

Jerry Mullins, a representative with the National Mining Association, highlighted the huge role West Virginia’s coal industry plays in coal exports – contributing nearly half of all coal exported from the United States. In 2012, the United States exported 126 million short tons of coal -12 percent more than the previous high set in 1981.  Each million tons of U.S. coal exported contributes an estimated 1,320 total jobs to the U.S. economy.

 

Eugene Trisko, an energy industry economist and attorney representing the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCE), educated the group on the imminent threats posed by EPA’s green house gas regulations. 

 

Trisko offered that West Virginia households with gross annual incomes below $50,000 – representing 61% of West Virginia’s population – spend an estimated average of 21% of their after-tax income on energy. Two proposals facing the industry have the ability to further increase those costs. 

 

The first proposal would impose stiffer air quality regulations on currently operating power plants.  The second would impose performance standards for new generation facilities.  Both rules create a standard that is unattainable by coal-fired power plants under current market conditions and available technologies.

 

If implemented, Trisko said, literally hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect industry jobs are placed at risk.

 

And on a more positive note, Giovanni Girelli and Brad Blasé with Martinsburg-based Essroc Italcementi showcased the role coal plays in the cement industry and their business.  Many may not realize that the cement industry is one of the nation’s top users of coal-fired electricity.  The company recently invested more than half a billion dollars to upgrade their processing facilities – a huge investment in the region.

 

Eastern Panhandle media covered the event, to include the Martinsburg Journal, WHAG-TV, WV Public Radio and Reuters.  Additionally, Chris Hamilton and Bill Raney conducted live, on-air radio interviews with WEPW and WRNR. 

 

 

NEWS COVERAGE:

 

WHAG-TV

http://www.your4state.com/story/forum-addresses-future-of-wv-coal-industry/d/story/LGFNq4p6k02ejTKNLh0D5g

Forum Addresses Future of WV Coal Industry

09/04/2013 16:00 PM

In West Virginia it is always a balancing act when it comes to coal.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — In West Virginia it is always a balancing act when it comes to coal: embracing the state’s primary industry while also being environmentally responsible and adjusting to policy changes in Washington.

“It’s a very difficult time right now [with] the uncertainty that’s created by the administration in Washington,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Event organizers say although there are no coal mines in the Eastern Panhandle area, the event was held in Martinsburg because the West Virginia coal industry affects the whole state and the country.

“We do consume electricity that’s actually produced by coal and also we benefit from the revenues from the rest of the state,” said West Virginia Senator John Unger, (D)-16th. “All 55 counties in West Virginia benefit from that.”

West Virginia coal accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s coal exports last year, pumping revenue into the state.

“Coal exports are way up. So I think…Are we going to disadvantage us economically at the expense of an environmental agenda that is unreachable?” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

But many people in West Virginia say the EPA’s tighter environmental policies present challenges and threaten their job market.

“We’ve lost a lot of jobs, we’ve closed a lot of…several coal-fired electrical generation plants, which will then cause our power rates to go up,” said Capito.

West Virginia lawmakers also say diversification of the state’s economy should be an open option—but not the only option.

Speakers at the forum also stressed that they are willing to work with environmental regulators as long as their policies do not overpower the success of their coal industry.

 

Martinsburg Journal

Forum addresses future of W.Va. coal

September 5, 2013

By Samantha Cronk – Journal Staff Writer (scronk@journal-news.net) , journal-news.net

MARTINSBURG – With Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties not directly involved with coal mining or production, it came as a surprise to some that the West Virginia Coal Forum chose to host a meeting in Martinsburg.

However, during Wednesday’s forum, speakers emphasized that the coal industry and its impact affect residents throughout the state and that the future of the coal industry will have an influence on the Eastern Panhandle’s future and funding.

“Just because there’s not a mine sitting in south Berkeley or there’s not a processing plant in Morgan County doesn’t mean it’s not important to the state. When you power the state, 95 percent of the state, with coal, it’s important to everybody,” said Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Capito was one of several guest speakers at the forum, including representatives from the West Virginia Coal association, the West Virginia State Senate and the National Mining Association.

One of the direct effects of the state’s coal industry for the Eastern Panhandle discussed at the forum was through the money provided to local governments by the coal severance tax.

While the Eastern Panhandle is not involved in coal production, each county’s local government receives coal severance payments that factor into each county’s budget. In 2012, the Eastern Panhandle received $824,822.77 in coal severance taxes – $508,304.84 for Berkeley County, $230,924 for Jefferson County and $85,593.93 for Morgan County.

The two main topics discussed that affect the state’s coal industry were the importance of coal as a state resource and exporting coal globally.

West Virginia is the second leading coal-producing state in the nation, and the leading underground producing state. Coal is produced in 28 West Virginia counties.

Statewide, coal production and price have decreased during the last several years, said Bill Raney, president for the WV Coal Association.

“In 2012, production was about 5 percent below where it was in 2011, and we’re currently running about 6 percent below that number. Here before, we have had increasing price and diminishing product, so it’s been somewhat invisible,” Raney said.

With the difficulties facing the coal industry, Capito feels that the best way to showcase West Virginia as an “energy state” is to transition the state’s energy interests to an “all-of-the-above” energy plan that includes multiple energy resources.

“We’re all West Virginians, we’re all in this together, but it’s not just about West Virginia. It’s about the country.  National security, national energy independence, national common sense policies that include an all-of-the-above energy plan.  All of those things are important to everybody in the Eastern Panhandle,” Capito said.

 

Despite coal exportation declining 7 percent in 2012, Chris Hamilton, co-chair for the WV Coal Forum, described international coal exportation as the “silver lining” aspect for West Virginia.

“Coal exports has always been a big component, a big piece of the mining portfolio of the state, and it appears to be the one area that’s going very, very well amid all the doom and gloom that you read about,” Hamilton said.

“The coal industry is not dead, it’s just moved to China for perhaps the next decade or so. The industry is healthy abroad,” he said.

– Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/scronkJN.

 

Martinsburg Journal Editorial

Time is Short: Departure from coal will lead to higher bills for all

September 5, 2013

journal-news.net

Tens of millions of Americans are getting what President Barack Obama no doubt hopes is only a reprieve from his drive to force electricity prices skyward. Unless they recognize what is happening, however, Obama will succeed.

During his first four years in office, Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency to launch a plan to shut down coal-fired power plants.

At first, it appeared his timing was good. Utility companies already had closed or announced plans to shutter scores of coal-fired power plants.

Enormous domestic supplies of natural gas – the only viable alternative to coal for power generation – fueled the utilities’ decisions. Many announced they would replace coal-fired generating stations with gas units.

During Obama’s first term, use of coal to generate power plummeted. When he took office, more than half the power generated in the U.S. came from coal. By mid-2012 the percentage had fallen to 35.4 percent.

That occurred even as thoughtful critics of the president’s plan warned coal is, by far, the most economical way of generating electricity. In the 30 states where substantial percentages of power come from coal, the average price of electricity is 8.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

 

Evidence of coal’s role came this week, when it was revealed Wheeling Power customers’ bills will decrease by an average of $3 a month. Much of the electricity used here comes from coal-fired generation.

It is different in some places, however. In the 20 states which obtain little of their power from coal, the average price is 12.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Gas is seen by some as a cheap alternative to coal. In May 2012, the average price of gas for power station use was 3.03 cents per 1,000 cubic feet.

But by this past May, the price had exploded to 4.79 cents. Utilities, attempting to hold customers’ bills down, used more coal. In May, the percentage of power generated from that fuel had climbed back to 39.5 percent.

No doubt Obama was aware of those numbers in June, when he revealed a new campaign against coal-fired power plants.

Congress could stop Obama. But with notable exceptions, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., nearly all Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives back him.

Many of the very Democrats who support Obama serve states where electric bills will soar if the president gets his way.

For now, with many coal-fired generating units set for closure still in operation, utilities can blunt the impact of gas price increases on customers’ electric bills. But if Obama is not checked, those units will close – and there will be no option but to produce power at higher-cost gas-fired plants.

Time is short for Obama to be stopped. At some point, lawmakers whose constituents are crying out about higher electric bills will find they have supported their party’s president for too long.

 

MARTINSBURG The West Virginia Coal Forum with co-hosts the Chamber of Commerce of Martinsburg & Berkeley County, Jefferson County Economic Development Authority, Berkeley County Economic Development Authority, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Panhandle Business Association conducted a meeting on Wednesday, September 4th to discuss the significance of the coal industry and coal exports to the Eastern Panhandle, our state and the nation at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn.

Coal Forum Co-Chairmen Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association, and Fred Tucker, UMWA, welcomed the more than 70 event attendees and set the stage for the meeting.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito headlined the event and expressed her support for the mining industry and the benefits it provides to the state, including the Eastern Panhandle, and the nation.  She stated that EPA’s ongoing regulatory actions are clearly a ‘war on coal’ and that she will continue to do all she can to maintain fairness and industry viability.

While Senator Joe Manchin was unable to attend the meeting, he sent a representative to read a statement.  In the statement he offered his appreciation for the event and those participating, and expressed the importance of understanding the benefits mining provides the state and country.

Several Eastern Panhandle legislators were in attendance at the event, including Del. Tiffany Lawrence, Del. John Overington, Del. Ron Walters and others.  Senator John Unger, Senator Majority Leader, and Delegate Daryl Cowles, House Minority Whip, addressed the group, highlighting the impact mining has on the region and thanking the event organizers for coming to the area to discuss this important topic.

Bill Raney, president of the WV Coal Association, and Mark Muchow, deputy secretary for the WV Division of Tax & Revenue, shared statistics demonstrating the importance of mining to the Eastern Panhandle, as well as the state.  They informed the group that the Eastern Panhandle has received nearly $52 million from coal severance funding through the Infrastructure, Jobs & Development Council since 1994.  These funds have been used to leverage tens of millions of dollars in other funding to maintain and upgrade water lines, wastewater treatment and to pursue economic development initiatives.  Additionally, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties received over $820,000 in municipal and county severance tax distributions in 2012. 

Jerry Mullins, a representative with the National Mining Association, highlighted the huge role West Virginia’s coal industry plays in coal exports – contributing nearly half of all coal exported from the United States. In 2012, the United States exported 126 million short tons of coal -12 percent more than the previous high set in 1981.  Each million tons of U.S. coal exported contributes an estimated 1,320 total jobs to the U.S. economy.

Eugene Trisko, an energy industry economist and attorney representing the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCE), educated the group on the imminent threats posed by EPA’s green house gas regulations. 

Trisko offered that West Virginia households with gross annual incomes below $50,000 – representing 61% of West Virginia’s population – spend an estimated average of 21% of their after-tax income on energy. Two proposals facing the industry have the ability to further increase those costs. 

The first proposal would impose stiffer air quality regulations on currently operating power plants.  The second would impose performance standards for new generation facilities.  Both rules create a standard that is unattainable by coal-fired power plants under current market conditions and available technologies.

If implemented, Trisko said, literally hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect industry jobs are placed at risk.

And on a more positive note, Giovanni Girelli and Brad Blasé with Martinsburg-based Essroc Italcementi showcased the role coal plays in the cement industry and their business.  Many may not realize that the cement industry is one of the nation’s top users of coal-fired electricity.  The company recently invested more than half a billion dollars to upgrade their processing facilities – a huge investment in the region.

Eastern Panhandle media covered the event, to include the Martinsburg Journal, WHAG-TV, WV Public Radio and Reuters.  Additionally, Chris Hamilton and Bill Raney conducted live, on-air radio interviews with WEPW and WRNR. 

 

NEWS COVERAGE:

WHAG-TV

http://www.your4state.com/story/forum-addresses-future-of-wv-coal-industry/d/story/LGFNq4p6k02ejTKNLh0D5g

Forum Addresses Future of WV Coal Industry

09/04/2013 16:00 PM

In West Virginia it is always a balancing act when it comes to coal.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — In West Virginia it is always a balancing act when it comes to coal: embracing the state’s primary industry while also being environmentally responsible and adjusting to policy changes in Washington.

“It’s a very difficult time right now [with] the uncertainty that’s created by the administration in Washington,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Event organizers say although there are no coal mines in the Eastern Panhandle area, the event was held in Martinsburg because the West Virginia coal industry affects the whole state and the country.

“We do consume electricity that’s actually produced by coal and also we benefit from the revenues from the rest of the state,” said West Virginia Senator John Unger, (D)-16th. “All 55 counties in West Virginia benefit from that.”

West Virginia coal accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s coal exports last year, pumping revenue into the state.

“Coal exports are way up. So I think…Are we going to disadvantage us economically at the expense of an environmental agenda that is unreachable?” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

But many people in West Virginia say the EPA’s tighter environmental policies present challenges and threaten their job market.

“We’ve lost a lot of jobs, we’ve closed a lot of…several coal-fired electrical generation plants, which will then cause our power rates to go up,” said Capito.

West Virginia lawmakers also say diversification of the state’s economy should be an open option—but not the only option.

Speakers at the forum also stressed that they are willing to work with environmental regulators as long as their policies do not overpower the success of their coal industry.

Martinsburg Journal

Forum addresses future of W.Va. coal

September 5, 2013

By Samantha Cronk – Journal Staff Writer (scronk@journal-news.net) , journal-news.net

MARTINSBURG – With Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties not directly involved with coal mining or production, it came as a surprise to some that the West Virginia Coal Forum chose to host a meeting in Martinsburg.

However, during Wednesday’s forum, speakers emphasized that the coal industry and its impact affect residents throughout the state and that the future of the coal industry will have an influence on the Eastern Panhandle’s future and funding.

“Just because there’s not a mine sitting in south Berkeley or there’s not a processing plant in Morgan County doesn’t mean it’s not important to the state. When you power the state, 95 percent of the state, with coal, it’s important to everybody,” said Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Capito was one of several guest speakers at the forum, including representatives from the West Virginia Coal association, the West Virginia State Senate and the National Mining Association.

One of the direct effects of the state’s coal industry for the Eastern Panhandle discussed at the forum was through the money provided to local governments by the coal severance tax.

While the Eastern Panhandle is not involved in coal production, each county’s local government receives coal severance payments that factor into each county’s budget. In 2012, the Eastern Panhandle received $824,822.77 in coal severance taxes – $508,304.84 for Berkeley County, $230,924 for Jefferson County and $85,593.93 for Morgan County.

The two main topics discussed that affect the state’s coal industry were the importance of coal as a state resource and exporting coal globally.

West Virginia is the second leading coal-producing state in the nation, and the leading underground producing state. Coal is produced in 28 West Virginia counties.

Statewide, coal production and price have decreased during the last several years, said Bill Raney, president for the WV Coal Association.

“In 2012, production was about 5 percent below where it was in 2011, and we’re currently running about 6 percent below that number. Here before, we have had increasing price and diminishing product, so it’s been somewhat invisible,” Raney said.

With the difficulties facing the coal industry, Capito feels that the best way to showcase West Virginia as an “energy state” is to transition the state’s energy interests to an “all-of-the-above” energy plan that includes multiple energy resources.

“We’re all West Virginians, we’re all in this together, but it’s not just about West Virginia. It’s about the country.  National security, national energy independence, national common sense policies that include an all-of-the-above energy plan.  All of those things are important to everybody in the Eastern Panhandle,” Capito said.

Despite coal exportation declining 7 percent in 2012, Chris Hamilton, co-chair for the WV Coal Forum, described international coal exportation as the “silver lining” aspect for West Virginia.

“Coal exports has always been a big component, a big piece of the mining portfolio of the state, and it appears to be the one area that’s going very, very well amid all the doom and gloom that you read about,” Hamilton said.

“The coal industry is not dead, it’s just moved to China for perhaps the next decade or so. The industry is healthy abroad,” he said.

– Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/scronkJN.

Martinsburg Journal Editorial

Time is Short: Departure from coal will lead to higher bills for all

September 5, 2013

journal-news.net

Tens of millions of Americans are getting what President Barack Obama no doubt hopes is only a reprieve from his drive to force electricity prices skyward. Unless they recognize what is happening, however, Obama will succeed.

During his first four years in office, Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency to launch a plan to shut down coal-fired power plants.

At first, it appeared his timing was good. Utility companies already had closed or announced plans to shutter scores of coal-fired power plants.

Enormous domestic supplies of natural gas – the only viable alternative to coal for power generation – fueled the utilities’ decisions. Many announced they would replace coal-fired generating stations with gas units.

During Obama’s first term, use of coal to generate power plummeted. When he took office, more than half the power generated in the U.S. came from coal. By mid-2012 the percentage had fallen to 35.4 percent.

That occurred even as thoughtful critics of the president’s plan warned coal is, by far, the most economical way of generating electricity. In the 30 states where substantial percentages of power come from coal, the average price of electricity is 8.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Evidence of coal’s role came this week, when it was revealed Wheeling Power customers’ bills will decrease by an average of $3 a month. Much of the electricity used here comes from coal-fired generation.

It is different in some places, however. In the 20 states which obtain little of their power from coal, the average price is 12.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Gas is seen by some as a cheap alternative to coal. In May 2012, the average price of gas for power station use was 3.03 cents per 1,000 cubic feet.

But by this past May, the price had exploded to 4.79 cents. Utilities, attempting to hold customers’ bills down, used more coal. In May, the percentage of power generated from that fuel had climbed back to 39.5 percent.

No doubt Obama was aware of those numbers in June, when he revealed a new campaign against coal-fired power plants.

Congress could stop Obama. But with notable exceptions, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., nearly all Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives back him.

Many of the very Democrats who support Obama serve states where electric bills will soar if the president gets his way.

For now, with many coal-fired generating units set for closure still in operation, utilities can blunt the impact of gas price increases on customers’ electric bills. But if Obama is not checked, those units will close – and there will be no option but to produce power at higher-cost gas-fired plants.

Time is short for Obama to be stopped. At some point, lawmakers whose constituents are crying out about higher electric bills will find they have supported their party’s president for too long.

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