News & Comment

Tracking Coal through the Process of Steel Making

By T.L. HEADLEY, communications director
American Coal Council
GRANITE CITY, IL — Granite City  is the quintessential American small town. It has a population of about 26,000 and for more than 100 years, its economy has largely been dependent on the local U.S. Steel manufacturing plant. For most of that time the community lived with the assurance that comes with an economy centered on basic industry.
That assurance was shaken three years ago when the steel plant laid off most of the 2,000 workers, leaving only a small skeleton crew. The town was shaken at its core. Rosemarie Brown, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Madison County, said the closure was “devastating.”
“The Granite City Works is vital to the community,” Brown said. “In fact, the town was founded around the plant in 1894.” Brown said that in the year after the plant effectively shut down, the Chamber lost 26 member companies.
All that changed when the new Trump administration shifted U.S. trade policy and began taking actions to support the domestic steel industry. Earlier this year, U.S. Steel announced it was restarting both furnaces at the Granite City plant and began recalling laid-off workers. Approximately 800 have returned to work in just the past few months with just one furnace online. More will be needed when the second furnace goes back into production later this year.

http://acclive.com/2018/12/28/tracking-coal-through-the-process-of-steel-making/

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A Cup Half Full: Answering the Question “Why Coal and How Coal?”

By Glenn Kellow, CEO
Peabody
WASHINGTON, DC –– U.S. coal exports are booming; domestic generation is easing; global metallurgical coal demand is strong; American natural gas and renewables are tough competitors; new coal plants continue to be built in large numbers particularly in Asia; opponents call for divestment from fossil fuels; recent policies represent potential opportunity.
Just another year in the dynamic coal industry, you might say. Yet amid this mixed “elevator analysis” related to coal fundamentals, I would submit that we can make two statements with confidence.
First: Coal remains an essential part of our global energy mix and a key ingredient in steelmaking.
Second: The question is not “Should we use coal?”, but “How should we use coal?”… And the answer is: cleaner every day.

Glenn Kellow is President & CEO of Peabody, and serves as chairman of the World Coal Association and vice chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Coal Industry Advisory Board.

http://acclive.com/2019/01/18/a-cup-half-full-answering-the-question-why-coal-and-how-coal

Regional State of the States: Association Leaders Look to the Future

By T.L. Headley, communications director
American Coal Council
WASHINGTON, DC –– Recently, I spoke with the leaders of four of the nation’s state coal associations and asked them to discuss their experiences over the past few years, to assess the current status of the industry in their states and regions, and to share their views of the industry’s future strengths and opportunities.
Those interviewed included Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association; Rachel Gleason, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance; Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association; and Travis Deti, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association.

http://acclive.com/2019/01/11/regional-state-of-the-state-association-leaders-look-to-the-future/

Apologies for not Updating our Blog

We would like to apologize to our readers for leaving our blog unattended for the past few months. We are pleased to say this blog will no longer be unattended and will be regularly updated. We thank you for your continued patronage of our site and we promise we will do our best to once again make this blog your go-to source for news, information and commentary about the nation’s coal industry with a particular focus on West Virginia.

We Have a Bright Future if We Take the Right Steps Today

By BILL RANEY, president
West Virginia Coal Association

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Bill Raney
According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), an office of the federal Department of Energy, West Virginia coal production year-to-date is up 20 percent over the same period last year, and we appear on target to possibly cross the 100 million ton level for the full year. Our mines are once again producing, we are beginning to rehire miners after eight long, hard years of fighting to just stay in business.
 
Even so, we remain a long way from the 170 million tons we produced in 2008, before the Obama Administration began its war on coal. And we may never get back to those levels, because most of those 400 coal-fired power generation units Obama shut down with his regulatory assault have been torn down, left to rust or converted to natural gas.
 
The good news is the world never stopped recognizing the value of coal, and 2,200 new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to go online between now and 2040. Many of those plants will look to import their supplies and we plan to be the source of much of that coal. We are uniquely located close to rail and barge transportation to major coal port facilities. And our metallurgical coal remains plentiful and second to none in quality.
 
The recovery in the state’s coal industry has played itself out through the entire economy, with state unemployment levels dropping from double-digits just a year or so ago to 4.4 percent today – led by a recovery of the coalfield economy.
 
But none of this would be possible without the 2016 election of President Trump – who has kept every promise he made to our coal miners and the people of our state. He has one-by-one rescinded every anti-coal regulation enacted by the Obama Administration, and he continues to do more. Just recently, his Department of Energy issued a report that said it is vital for the U.S. to preserve its coal fleet for the sake of the stability and reliability of the electric grid.
 
It also appears likely that the president will strip away the billions of dollars of grants and tax credits that have propped up the renewable energy industry for the past eight years, finally returning the energy markets to a level playing field. And that’s all we’ve ever asked for – a fair chance to compete.
 
The Trump Administration has stepped up and done its part. Now it is time for the state government to do its part to position us to compete in the world marketplace. We need to reduce costs across the industry. To do so, we need to reduce the state tax rate on the coal industry. We need to cut severance taxes, cut property taxes (particularly for idled property so it can be held for future use) and remove outdated regulatory constraints.
 
Most of all, we need state agencies to recognize the value of our coal industry. We believe most do. If there is one good outcome of the past eight years it is that many state leaders have been reminded of that importance. However, in the effort to find ways to plug a budget hole, we are concerned they will see coal as a source for that revenue. That can’t happen. The state’s coal industry is barely getting back on its feet and we need investment to continue that climb. We need to have capital for improvements freed up and not locked up in taxes.
 
We are confident our current Legislature and Governor Justice understand this need. And we see a bright future for West Virginia coal if given a chance.
 
Yours,
 
Bill

EPA Plans to Streamline Air Regulations Permitting

By Devin Henry 

The Hill

WASHINGTON, DC (Oct. 25, 2017)  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said it would reassess the way it issues Clean Air Act pollution permits for new facilities, as a way to reduce regulatory burdens for businesses.

As part of a review President Trump mandated earlier this year, the EPA said it would undertake four new initiatives to re-evaluate how it regulates pollution.

The most notable of those is the creation of a new task force to reconsider the permitting process for new sources of air pollution under the Clean Air Act, called the New Source Review (NSR).

“The potential costs, complexity and delays that may arise from the NSR permitting process can slow the construction of domestic energy exploration, production, or transmission facilities that must undergo review,” the EPA wrote in a 15-page report on its regulations.

“In some circumstances, the NSR process discourages the construction of new facilities or modifications of existing ones that could result in greater environmental improvements. Such reactions to the NSR process slows the growth of domestic energy resources and raise energy.”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/357162-epa-plans-to-streamline-air-pollution-permitting

Death of U.S. Coal Industry Greatly Exaggerated

By Roger Bezdek

Public Utilities Fortnightly

WASHINGTON, DC (October 2017) — In Part One, we assessed the recent past and current state of the U.S. coal industry, with emphasis on Appalachia. In Part Two, we examine alternative scenario futures for the industry, involving assumptions about economic growth, energy requirements, technologies, tax incentives, and research and development.

http://misi-net.com/publications/PUF2.0-Mid1017.pdf.

U.S. Rail Coal Shipments To Rise Amid Favorable Business Environment

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. committed to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025. Had the U.S. followed through on its commitment, it would have led to the rapid substitution of coal by natural gas, a fuel with lower emissions, in electricity generation from 2020 onwards, when the Paris Climate Agreement enters into force. However, with the federal government indicating that it does not plan to follow through on the agreement as a part of its promise to lower restrictive environmental regulations on U.S. industries, the regulatory environment for coal production going forward appears to be favorable.

In addition, natural gas prices, which averaged close to $2.50 per MMBTU in 2016, are likely to rise to $3.17 per MMBTU and $3.43 per MMBTU in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Rising exports of natural gas and LNG, as well as higher demand for natural gas for electricity generation amid strengthening economic conditions, are expected to translate into rising natural gas prices, at least in the near term.

However, in the longer term, the declining production costs of electricity generation from renewable sources could threaten the sustainability of electricity generation from fossil fuels.

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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.”

 

Republican senator defends cuts to EPA, which he says is ‘brainwashing our kids’

By Eliza Relman, Business Insider (Mar. 16, 2017)

Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency is releasing “propaganda” that is “brainwashing our kids,” during a CNN interview on Thursday. “We want to deliver the services. We ought to make things clean,” Inhofe said. “But we ought to take all this stuff that comes out of the EPA that’s brainwashing our kids, that is propaganda, things that aren’t true, allegations.”

Inhofe also defended President Donald Trump’s proposed 31 percent funding cut to the EPA, which includes a $100 million reduction in funding for the agency’s climate change programs.

The EPA is facing, arguably, the deepest cuts of any federal agency under Trump’s proposed budget, an outline of which was unveiled on Thursday. The budget allocates $5.7 billion for the EPA, down from $8.3 billion.