EPA Sued for Withholding Info on Employees Sending Encrypted Text Message

By Michael Bastach, Daily Caller (03/22/2017)

A public interest law firm sued the EPA for not turning over records regarding agency officials’ use of encrypted messaging applications. The Cause of Action Institute (CoA) filed suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia Tuesday after the EPA failed to turn over any records to the group within the time limits specified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“Career employees at the EPA appear to be using Signal to avoid transparency laws and vital oversight by the Executive Branch, Congress, and the public,” Henry Kerner, CoA’s assistant vice president, said in a statement. “Communications on this encrypted application, however, which relate to agency business must still be preserved under the Federal Records Act and be made available for disclosure under the FOIA.”

 

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WV Business & Industry Council Disappointed in Gov. Tomblin’s Endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President  

Chris Hamilton
Chairman, WV Business & Industry Council
April 30, 2016

Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Business & Chris-HamiltonIndustry Council (BIC) is extremely disappointed that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin decided to endorse a presidential candidate who has expressed nothing but disdain for West Virginia’s coal industry and the thousands of families it supports.

“Gov. Tomblin calls West Virginia’s coalfields home, and his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president means our governor officially is turning his back on the plight of the thousands of West Virginians and their families who are struggling because of the Obama Administration’s war on Appalachian coal,” said BIC Chairman Chris Hamilton. “Mrs. Clinton has stated clearly and unambiguously on national television that her administration will put even more coal miners out of work. Why would West Virginia’s chief executive declare that this person is right for West Virginia and the rest of the nation

“In his announcement throwing support behind Clinton, Tomblin said he has concerns about her position on fossil fuels,” Hamilton continued. “Well, his concerns should stretch to the entire U.S. economy because her plans for America will be nothing more than a continuation of Obama’s reign of economic terror. Clinton is bad for West Virginia, and Clinton is bad for America. We need a change, not more of the same ill-fated and short-sighted economic policy that we have had for the last seven years.”

The West Virginia Business & Industry Council’s goal is to enhance the business climate in West Virginia, and its members have been working to that end for more than three decades.

For additional information, contact Chris Hamilton at (304) 549-8231.

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Coal Association VP thinks Manchin should not support Garland nomination

By Alex Wiederspiel in News | April 05, 2016 at 6:43PM

CLARKSBURG, Chris-HamiltonW.Va. — Chris Hamilton, the Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association, does not think Senator Joe Manchin should need any additional input on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Justice Garland is a sitting judge on the D.C. Circuit, and he’s had a number of EPA cases before him,” Hamilton said Tuesday on the MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “And he has, almost without exception, upheld the agency’s rules, rule making, and requirements that it has proposed and implemented.”

The WV Coal Association sent an open letter to Senator Manchin expressing their disapproval of the nominee.

“We’d like to see Senator Manchin join with the core of U.S. senators who have vowed not to seat Justice Garland,” he said.

Garland has been at the center of a largely partisan fight between Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. over whether or not the Senate would hold any confirmation hearings–or even meet with Garland–following his nomination to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Hamilton said his association wouldn’t support a nomination that supported the Clean Power Plan, which is facing myriad legal challenges.

“That’s what prompted the letter to Senator Manchin,” he said. “Just remind him of the fact that this Clean Power Plan remains as this President’s center piece of his Administration.”

Hamilton was quick to blame the EPA and the Obama Administration for the losses suffered by the coal industry.

“That program has resulted in the complete decimation of the state’s coal industry, shutting down record number of mines, laying off of thousands and thousands of miners practically just destroying our state’s economy,” he said.

Senator Manchin reportedly met with Garland on Tuesday.

Since President Obama announced Garland as the nominee, Manchin held a town hall in Charleston to discuss it with constituents.

He also vowed not to support the nomination if Garland was “adamantly entrenched” against the fossil fuel industry.

 

 

U.S. Coal Production Off 38 Percent from 2015

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (March 31, 2016)

Coal Commodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2  $      42.25  $               1.69
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3  $      48.60  $               1.87
Illinois Basin 11,800 5  $      32.20  $               1.36
Powder River Basin 8,800 0.8  $        9.45  $               0.54
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8  $      38.05  $               1.63
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)

n/a

0.01

n/a

 $               1.79

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

CHARLESTON – According to the latest reports from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the U.S. continues to slide, finishing the week off by 38 percent from 2015 totals. Meanwhile spot prices for coal continue to hold steady as they have for the past month. Natural gas spot prices, however, continue to slide.

According to the EIA’s April 1, 2016 weekly report, U.S. coal production for the week totaled just 11.60 million tons, down from 18.84 million tons for the same week in 2015. Year to date production totaled just 157.27 million tons, down from 227.45 million tons (down 30.9 percent). And for the previous 52 weeks, production was off by 17.4 percent, down from 819.97 million tons from 992.90 million tons in 2015.

The decline in coal production was reflected in rail car loadings, which were off 37.8 percent from for the week to just 66,281. This decline in rail traffic is almost entirely due to the decline in coal production and has resulted in both major eastern rail systems announcing major restructurings. CSX recently announced it is closing its regional headquarters in Huntington, West Virginia. Norfolk Southern likewise announced it is closing the Bluefield, West Virginia offices.

Coal exports for the month of January (the most recent data available) were sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 38.5 percent from January 2015 and steam coal exports are off by 54 percent. Imports of coal into the U.S were down for the month by 46.4 percent.

Electric output was down 4.6 percent compared to the same week last year, with 67,690 MWH of electricity produced compared to 70,933 MWH produced for the same period last year.

Domestic steel output was up was up from the previous week.

According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the week ending March 26, 2016, domestic raw steel production was 1.68 million net tons while the capability utilization rate was 71.6 percent. Production was 1.60 million net tons in the week ending March 26, 2015 while the capability utilization then was 67.7 percent. The current week production represents a 4.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 26, 2016 is up 0.4 percent from the previous week ending March 19, 2016 when production was 1.69 million net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 71.3 percent.

Adjusted year-to-date domestic raw steel production through March 26, 2016 was 21.5 million net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 70.3 percent. That is down 3.4 percent from the 22.3 million net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 72.1 percent.

In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins report significant decreases from 2015.

The Appalachian Basin finished the week at 2.81 million tons, down from 4.83 million tons in 2014 (-42 percent). Interior Basin production also finished the week down, at 2.19 million tons compared to 3.51 million tons last year (-38 percent). Western production finished the week at 6.60 million tons from 10.30 million tons last week (-36 percent).  All three basins remain down significantly for the previous 52 weeks, with the Appalachian Basin off 23.1 percent, the Interior Basin off 17.3 percent and the Western Basin off 14.7 percent.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state stands at 11.66 million tons through March 24th. Of that total, 9.66 million tons was mined by underground operations and 2.01 million tons was produced by surface mining. Only 62 mines have reported production in December2015. Several large operations have idled production due to financial restructuring or in response to slack demand.

However, according to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has fallen sharply to just 11,907 total active miners, with 9,782 working underground and 2,125 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.

According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.23 million tons, off from 2.11 million tons for the same week in 2015 – down 42 percent.

Production was down in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to the same week in 2015 by 39 percent and 45 percent respectively. For the week, northern West Virginia production finished up at 628,000 tons versus 617,000 tons last week and 1.03 million tons last year. Southern West Virginia, however, finished down at 601,000 tons versus 588,000 tons last week and 1.07 million tons a year ago.

Coal production in Kentucky ended the week at 774,000 tons produced, down from the 1.31 million tons from 2015. Eastern Kentucky coal operations finished the year at 344,000 tons, down from 596,000 tons. Meanwhile, western Kentucky coal operations finished at 431,000 tons versus 710,000 tons in 2015.

Wyoming coal production finished the week at 4.92 million tons versus 7.73 million tons in 2015, off by 36 percent.

Illinois coal production finished the week at 839,000 tons versus 1.3 million tons for the same week in 2015.  Indiana production, however, fell significantly, finishing at 461,000 tons versus 734,000 tons for the month a year ago. Ohio production finished the week at 205,000 tons versus 398,000 tons for the week in 2015. Pennsylvania production was down, finishing the week at 634,000 tons versus 1.1 million tons in 2014. Virginia coal production continues to tall, finishing the year down at 140,000 tons versus 286,000 tons for the year in 2015.

Coal prices on the spot market were unchanged this week. Central Appalachian coal finished the week at $42.25 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished unchanged, coming in at $48.60 per ton or $1.87 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal held steady at $32.20 per ton or $1.36 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal remained at $9.45 per ton or $0.55 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished unchanged at $38.05 per ton or $1.63 per mmBtu.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub also held steady this week to finish at $1.79 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers reported a significant decline in their stored reserves – at 2.47 trillion cubic feet, down by 25 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.48 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 12 from last week to 464 working rigs. And the count remains down by 584 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 21%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

About the Author: T.L. Headley is a veteran public relations expert and former journalist with more than 20 years in mass communications with a focus on energy. Headley has an MBA in finance and management and an MA in journalism. He is the principal for Genesis Communications and is a public relations consultant for several major coal and energy organizations in West Virginia. Headley is also a 2001 graduate of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership West Virginia program.

11,000: The Casualties of the War on Coal

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

11,000….Boots

That’s how many West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs in the past seven years.

That’s 11,000 families whose lives were turned upside down by the policies of the Obama Administration and the National Democratic Party.

And each one of those 11,000 jobs supported another 5 jobs… that’s another 55,000 jobs and another 55,000 families.

When you stop to consider that most of these people were in the prime years of their lives, most had kids, mortgages, truck payments, they were saving for college, saving for retirement….

Their taxes paid for schools, for roads, for water and sewer lines. They paid for sheriff’s deputies and programs for senior citizens.

Today, those jobs are gone and so are the taxes…

This is the legacy of the Obama Administration, the national Democratic Party and the radicals who control the EPA.  Over the next few months, we are going to be making a decision about who will lead our state and nation forward for the next eight years.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would continue Obama’s anti-coal policies and, double down on them, costing even more coal jobs . We can’t afford that.
We aren’t telling you who to vote for…. but we can tell you who NOT to vote for if you care about our state and its future.  A vote for Clinton or Sanders will destroy our state … it’s that simple….

Make your votes count … choose wisely.

Clinton and Sanders Say They Will Destroy What’s Left of Coal Industry

West Virginia’s Democratic Leadership now openly supporting an anti-coal agenda0011

LOGAN – United Citizens for Coal President Roger Horton today issued the following statement about recent comments by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the state’s new Democratic Party leadership.
“Eight years ago, Barack Obama made his intentions regarding the nation’s coal industry clear when he said he would ‘bankrupt’ anyone building a new coal-fired power plant. At a town hall meeting in coal-producing Ohio yesterday, Hillary Clinton doubled down on Obama’s policies, declaring outright that she was ‘going to put a bunch of coal miners and coal companies out of business.’
“Most Americans failed to hear Obama’s words, but it appears the destruction of the nation’s coal industry is the one promise Obama appears determined to keep. Clinton has now climbed on board with her promise to finish the job and make no mistake about it, despite her attempt to hide her intent behind empty promises of ‘job retraining’ and ‘help,’ we hear her words loud and clear.
“Let me make myself very clear…. WE DON’T WANT YOUR JOB RETRAINING OR YOUR HELP!  WE WANT OUR COAL JOBS BACK! WE WANT OUR LIVES BACK!
“Now Clinton isn’t alone in riding the anti-coal bandwagon. Her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders has been equally clear in his intent to end the use of coal. In fact, Sanders basically wants to do away with most heavy industry. Just a few days ago, he said he wants to take trucks off the nation’s roads.
“And if you think West Virginia’s Democratic leadership is different, think again. Today’s West Virginia Democratic leaders are not like they have been for generations. These Democrats don’t like coal. They don’t like business and they don’t share the values most West Virginians hold dear. They support the Obama/Clinton/Sanders agenda.
“I have been a Democrat for my entire adult life, but I look around and I don’t see MY Democratic Party. My Democrats support the working men and women of this country. My Democrats are God-fearing, patriotic Americans who treasure the freedoms this country has provided. When I look at today’s Democratic leadership I see something I can’t and won’t support.”
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It’s Time for the 43rd Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium

070809_murray_vmed_4p.grid-4x2CHARLESTON- The West Virginia Coal Association’s 43rd Annual Mining Symposium will kick off at 8:30 A.M., Wednesday, January 27 at the Charleston Civic Center.    
The Symposium will be a streamlined two-day event, beginning with registration on Wednesday morning and going directly into the formal opening session with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Bill Cole and the primary keynote speaker, Robert Murray, chairman, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation. It is expected that Mr. Murray will discuss a host of issues related to the challenges facing coal mining in West Virginia and in the United States, including his efforts to fight the job-killing intrusion of the federal EPA.
thrasher
They will be followed by internationally known coal marketing expert, Ernie Thrasher, CEO of XCoal.
The Mountaineer Guardian Safety Awards Luncheon will follow, sponsored by Jackson Kelly, PLLC.

Thursday morning will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast sponsored by Walker Machinery and Dinsmore & Shohl.

The usual full and informative program will begin at 8:30 a.m. with our congressional delegation, well known lawyers and scientists rounding out the program. The afternoon will feature a new WVCA member, the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund. VCLF CEO Tom Clarke will discuss the organization and its vision and will be followed by coal industry leaders and members of Congress and the Legislature.

The Annual Reclamation Awards Luncheon will be sponsored by Babst Calland and Civil & Environmental Consultants, at noon.

WV Coal Lauds House as it approves Resolutions of Disapproval Joining Senate in Opposition to Job-Killing EPA Costly Power Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a 235-178 party-line vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve two joint resolutions, S.J.Res.23 and S.J.Res.24, which disapprove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for new and existing power plants. The resolutions would effectively nullify EPA’s final rules ensuring they have no force or effect.

All three members of West Virginia’s delegation to the House of Representatives voted to support the resolutions of disapproval.

The vote included 231 Republicans voting yes with only 10 voting against the measure, whereas 178 Democrats voted against the measures versus only four who voted with the Republican majority to oppose the Obama Administration’s job killing rules. The resolutions have already passed the Senate by a strong majority with both West Virginia senators voting for the measures.

“We are happy that the Congressional majority recognizes the damage this plan has already done to our industry and to the nation’s electric grid,” said West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. “We would like to thank Senators Capito and Manchin along with Representatives McKinley, Jenkins and Mooney for their leadership in moving these resolutions through the Congress.

“We believe the EPA’s Clean Power Plan threatens the nation’s electric grid and its economy,” Raney said. “West Virginia is already seeing the damage, with many of our counties seeing unemployment rates of more than 13 percent, but make no mistake, if this plan is implemented the rest of the nation will share in the pain.”

Analysis of EPA’s power plan  shows compliance costs totaling nearly $300 billion, making it the most expensive regulation every imposed on the electric sector. Additionally, each of the Lower 48 states will see electricity prices climbing. Forty-one of those states will see double digit increases with 28 facing peak year increases of 20 percent or more. Despite these enormous costs, the plan will have virtually no effect on global climate change.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Bill Raney, president

West Virginia Coal Association

Ph. 304.342.4153

Email: braney@wvcoal.com

New Analysis Underscores Power Plan’s Costly Consequences

WASHINGTON — “Energy policy needs to ensure all Americans have affordable and reliable electricity to meet everyday challenges and to help build a strong foundation of economic success. Regardless of where you stand politically, this plan fails to meet that threshold.”

Washington, D.C. – New analysis from NERA Economic Consulting shows the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plan comes with a hefty price tag that could approach $300 billion and raise electricity prices in each of the 47 states subject to the new regulation. Despite these enormous costs, the rule does nothing to prevent global climate change.

“This analysis makes it abundantly clear the president’s power plan will result in higher electricity prices and delivers a sharp wake-up call to states and consumers,” said Mike Duncan, ACCCE president and CEO. “Common sense tells us that with 27 states seeking judicial action to stop this plan from being implemented there is reason enough for EPA to take this rule off the table. Sadly, however, common sense isn’t prevailing and as result Americans’ economic well-being and livelihoods are at risk.”

Despite the fact that the president’s plan will have virtually no effect on climate change, NERA’s analysis shows that all of the Lower 48 states will see electricity price increases because of the rule. Consumers in 40 states could see double-digit electricity price increases, and 28 states could face electricity price spikes greater than 20 percent. The annual cost of at least $30 billion per year for the plan is three times greater than the cost of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which the U.S. Supreme Court criticized by saying, “It is not rational … to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in … benefits.”

“Energy policy needs to ensure all Americans have affordable and reliable electricity to meet everyday challenges and to help build a strong foundation of economic success. Regardless of where you stand politically, this plan fails to meet that threshold,” Duncan said.

Scraps from the Table: Obama’s Plan an Insult to West Virginia’s Coal Mining Families

By Bill Raney, president
West Virginia Coal Association
Let’s say you are walking on the street and a man comes along, pulls out a gun and steals your

Sierra Exif JPEG
Bill Raney

wallet, all your money and credit cards, your watch and your wedding ring. He starts to walk away, but turns around and hands you back a five dollar bill and says he didn’t “want to leave you with nothing.”
Would that change your opinion of the man? Of course not, he’s a thief and it was YOUR money to begin with. The only reason he gave you back any of the money was to placate his own guilt.
The Charleston Gazette suggests that we should be grateful to someone who has, for more than six years, systematically done everything possible to destroy America’s coal industry, our coal miners’ jobs and families as well as the counties and communities that rely on us mining coal, all because he now wants to toss a few dollars back to his victim. This is simply guilt money and the most damaging type of hypocrisy.
While I am happy that the Gazette has finally acknowledged the pain the Obama War on Coal has caused the coalfields communities, their endorsement of Obama’s “plan” is little more than the words of a co-conspirator in the mugging trying to absolve their own guilt.
Now, we should do everything we can to take the money because the people of the coalfields ARE hurting and we want to do whatever we can to help, but it’s important to put and keep this Obama “payoff” into perspective.
According to the Gazette, The White House 2016 budget contains a “Power Plus Plan” that would:
• Provide $200 million per year for five years to clean up abandoned strip mines, which could create multitudes of jobs for laid-off miners;
• Provide $5 million for “brownfields” work cleaning up pollution at coal-fired power plants.
• Provide $20 million to retrain ex-miners and help them find new jobs;
• Provide $25 million to the Appalachian Regional Commission for efforts to create new businesses and upgrade water, sewer and telecommunications infrastructure;
• Provide $6 million more for “place-based regional innovation efforts” to spur jobs in distressed coal communities; and,
• Award $3.9 billion over a decade to shore up pensions and medical care of retired miners.
So how much of this “Obama payoff” can West Virginia realistically be expected to get?
In all likelihood it would be a small fraction of the total package – on the order of a few million dollars if you set aside the $3.9 billion that would be used to provide for miner and retiree pensions. Never mind that every dime of this money came from the coalfields to begin with — paid into the AML Fund by companies as a portion of their sale price of coal. So we are going to get back a small portion of the money we paid all these years?
By my calculation that is $256 million for the first year and $200 million in the subsequent four years in temporary aid for all the coal-producing states! In addition, $3.9 billion will be parsed out over ten years to “shore up” pensions and medical care for retired miners. Now it is important to say we applaud the effort to make sure mine retirees and their surviving spouses are provided for. It’s also important to say those pensions would likely not be in trouble today were it not for the actions of this administration. In fact, we have warned for the past seven years that this was coming, but neither the Obama Administration nor their supporters in the media would listen. I don’t think they ever considered or contemplated the far reaching negative impacts of their orders and behavior because reduced production brings reduced payments to these funds and no one should every be denied their pensions they‘ve worked their whole life to earn!
It is also important to understand that is not all of the remaining $256 million in temporary aid is directed to West Virginia or even Appalachia (as apparently the Gazette would have us believe). This would be spread out across all the “coalfields” of the United States – all 20+ states and I am sure some would also find its way to the “coalfields” of Chicago and Los Angeles since they use electricity!
To put that into clear perspective, the coal industry has historically provided about $3.4 BILLION EACH YEAR in wages in West Virginia alone and $26 BILLION EACH YEAR to the state’s gross state product. Obama has attempted to systematically strip us of that economic base.
The Gazette would have you believe the decline in the coal industry is “attributable to a flood of cheap natural gas, to depletion of good Appalachian coal seams, high company debt and the fall of coal prices,” but this is neither the whole nor accurate story. We could have wrestled with each of these factors in a free market of competition, but when our own government has it’s “foot on our throat”, picking winners and losers through the Obama assault on coal and its use, each of these factors are accentuated through the uncertainty that it has perpetrated.
The coal seams of Appalachia (West Virginia) are not in significant decline. In fact, underground productivity is at near record highs. Our overall productivity, however, has declined due to the reduced use of highly productive surface mining. Falling coal prices are directly attributable to the war on coal and the push to move the electric generation to less use of coal by the forced closure of much of the nation’s coal-fired power generation fleet. This so-called “cheap” natural gas is actually 31% MORE expensive on a per million Btu basis than West Virginia coal and is still below its market breakeven price even at this price level. And company debt is the direct result of these factors making it difficult if not impossible for some of these companies to compete.
Now the Gazette and other media outlets have been at the forefront of aiding this assault on America’s mining families, perhaps not realizing the long-term damage it would do to people. Today, rather than accept the responsibility for the policies that are threatening the futures of so many, the Gazette and others are trying to cast the Obama mugging of Appalachia as a “gift to help us overcome our economic problems.”
If you really want to help West Virginians, and Kentuckians, and southwestern Virginians, and all the others across the coalfields of this country, you wouldn’t just throw us some table scraps, you would get out of the way and help us put our miners back to work.