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.
By Devin Henry
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
For Immediate Release: August 24, 2016
Legislature’s Action Keeps West Virginia Coal Miners Working
CHARLESTON – Earlier this year, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill that allowed utility companies to fast-track recovery of costs for upgrades to existing power plants if the upgrades help keep West Virginia coal miners working.
The bill is already doing what was intended.
FirstEnergy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison recently submitted a request to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) to recover costs for environmental control projects that support the long-term operation of Harrison and Fort Martin Power Stations.
The upgrades are part of FirstEnergy’s investments in emissions control at Harrison and Fort Martin that allow the plants to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations. These investments will allow the plants to continue generating low-emitting and affordable electricity, providing well-paying jobs, and contributing significant tax income to surrounding communities.
West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney today offered his thanks to the members of the Legislature for their foresight in passing the legislation.
“West Virginia’s coal industry has suffered a great deal under the Obama Administration over the past eight years,” Raney said. “There are 11,000 coal miners not working today who should be. We have to do whatever we can here in West Virginia to help our electric companies meet the demands imposed on them by a radicalized federal regulatory system. The leaders of the Legislature realize this and are working hard to find ways to keep West Virginians working. First Energy’s investment in upgrades to their power plants likely wouldn’t have happened and the facilities would simply have been closed had it not been for what the Legislature did earlier this year. We thank them for their efforts to protect West Virginia jobs.”
The Modernization and Improvement Plan (MIP) will help Harrison and Fort Martin achieve ongoing compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) II requirements.
To meet these requirements, 18 projects are planned or underway, including improving electro-static precipitators, installing technology to control mercury and other emissions, improving existing flue gas desulfurization equipment, enhancing continuous emission monitoring, tuning boilers, and improving controls and the selective catalytic reduction system.
If approved, the project will cost an estimated $6.9 million.
By T.L. Headley, MBA, MA
CHARLESTON, W.Va – Despite the news the media pushes, the truth is out there if you look for it.
Taking a look at the latest data from the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC), coal currently makes up more than half the daily fuel mix for most of the United States.
In some areas it is difficult to determine what the daily fuel mix is because they do not adequately report the fuel mix. This is the case in California and New York. In terms of California, the only fuel mix they report is the renewable content — which only provides about 20 percent of the daily needs. The remaining 80 percent is apparently undisclosed.
As I’m sure everyone knows, Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, laid out details of his “America First” economic plan in a speech in Detroit earlier this week, that was carried live on nationwide television. While he spoke of tax reductions and reform and changing and/or nullifying trade agreements, the significance to our industry were his proposals for regulatory reform and advancing a workable energy program that will put our people back to work. Below are some of the pertinent excerpts from his speech that will give you a feel for the positive tone of his proposals …
“The U.S. economy today is twenty-five percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980.”
“Upon taking office, I will issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations.”
“I will also immediately cancel all illegal and overreaching executive orders. Next, I will ask each and every federal agency to prepare a list of all of the regulations they impose on Americans which are not necessary, do not improve public safety, and which needlessly kill jobs. Those regulations will be eliminated.”
“The Obama-Clinton Administration has blocked and destroyed millions of jobs through their anti-energy regulations, while raising the price of electricity for both families and businesses. As a result of recent Obama EPA actions coal-fired power plants across Michigan have either shut down entirely or undergone expensive conversions. The Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs. Hillary Clinton says her plan will ‘put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.’
“We will put our coal miners and steelworkers back to work.”
“American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation. It will be American hands that rebuild this country, and it will be American energy – mined from American sources – that powers this country.”
“We are ready to show the world that America is Back – Bigger, and Better and Stronger Than Ever Before.”
There are other highlights in the release that accompanied the speech. Those highlights include lifting restrictions on American energy, rescinding the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and Waters of the United States regulations, cancelling the Paris Climate Agreement and stopping all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
Bill Raney, president
West Virginia Coal Association