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.

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West Virginia: Looking Forward

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA
I have read a lot of people talking about the economic problems currently faced by Terry 2West Virginia. It seems the eco-left doesn’t want to own its crime and accept that their fight to kill coal with the help of the Obama Administration has essentially destroyed the economy of an entire region of this country.
They cast about looking for excuses — natural gas, the so-called “resource curse”, pretty much anything they can latch onto to deflect criticism and responsibility.
They call for the passage of additional taxes on coal, oil, gas, timber, etc. Arguing that these industries that remain should be forced to bear even more of a burden, pushing them further out of the market, in order to pay higher taxes (a “future fund”) to support social programs to help the poor — poor that resulted in large part from their own brain-dead policies.
Let’s look at some of their claims….
First, there is no “resource curse.” To claim so is to blame the band-aid for the cut. West Virginia’s limiting factor is its geography. These mountains isolate people into small pockets and severely limit the single most important factor in diversifying an economy – easily developable land. The result is a small population living in small pockets that can’t support a broad-based economy. The poverty that would otherwise exist there is alleviated by the resource — which is not dependent on population or even infrastructure beyond the basics of a road or rail system to get their product to market.
Second, some talk about the need for a “future fund.” We have had one for 40+ years in the coal severance taxes that have been paid — which has amounted to more than $2 BILLION in the past four years alone. Could they have been started earlier? Perhaps, but what has been the result of having them for the past four decades?
They were squandered in large part by using them to fund holes in the budget of the state. Very little (seven percent of collections) was targeted back to coal-producing counties. Most went to large population areas like Charleston and the eastern Panhandle.
Clearly, had the 10s of BILLIONS of dollars collected over the past 40 years been set aside as a revolving loan fund used for economic development, combined with a focused effort to turn former surface mine lands into economic development hubs or even to get counties to develop true economic development plans, we would not be looking at a modern day dust bowl in the coalfields.
Even a portion of that money would have made a tremendous difference. Instead, the money went into the black hole of the state budget and county economic development efforts were invariably headed up by “Boss Hogg’s nephew Hughey Hogg.”
Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around, but let’s not blame the band-aid for the cut.
There is still time to turn this around, but we need to support the industry that can and has provided us with the economic base to work from over the past 70 years. There is 200 years of coal left in the ground in West Virginia. We need to concentrate on fixing the problems that are hurting coal mining, then make much better use of the money coming from that industry over the next few decades.
THAT is the path forward.

West Virginia-led coalition of states joins North Dakota in new source rule challenge

By Annalee Grant
West Virginia’s attorney general is once again leading a coalition of states against the U.S. EPA’s carbon agenda — this time against the Clean Power Plan’s companion, the carbon emissions rule for new power plants.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Nov. 3 released an unofficial version of his petition for review of the EPA’s new source rule, which will be submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. While he provided few details of his challenge, Morrisey pledged to show that the rule exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority and is otherwise arbitrary and capricious. Those seeking to challenge an agency action must indicate their intent to do so within 60 days of a rule’s publication in the Federal Register, although they do not have to lay out their arguments in that filing.
The Clean Power Plan establishes statewide carbon dioxide emissions standards for existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, with the goal of cutting CO2 emissions 32% as measured from a 2005 baseline by 2030. The new source rule sets similar emissions standards for new fossil-fired generation, but also includes a carbon capture and sequestration requirement for any new coal facilities that may be built in the future.
North Dakota was the first state to challenge the new source rule, and legal experts have predicted it could be the key to bringing down the Clean Power Plan. Under the relevant Clean Air Act provisions, the EPA must regulate new sources of emissions before it can regulate existing sources of emissions, and so a successful challenge of the new source rule could effectively halt the existing source rule.
Joining West Virginia in the challenge are attorneys general for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

So you’re upset about Boone County closing trash dumps? Get real!

BY ROGER HORTON, president
Citizens for Coal

I have been reading about the decision this week by the Boone County Commission to shut down its trash dump program.  For years, the county’s thriving coal industry provided enough money to fund a lot of conveniences for its people. Now, it seems, a lot of people are upset because they will no longer be getting free trash disposal.  While I understand no one likes to suddenly have to pay for something they had been getting for free, I have to ask where they have been for the past seven years?

And I also think it’s time for some of the people of Boone County, and Logan County, and Mingo, McDowell, Wyoming, Lincoln, Wayne, Raleigh and West Virginia to GET REAL!
Open your eyes up and take a look around you! Look at what’s happening! Look at what’s BEEN happening for the past seven years!

While this is admittedly a seat of the pants estimate based on numbers from the WV Office of Miners Health Safety and Training, Boone County has lost 1,570 direct mining jobs since 2008 — which is about 41 percent of the county’s 2008 mining workforce.
It has lost about 60 percent of its 2008 coal production — down from 27.4 million tons in 2008 to just 11 million tons in 2014.
The price of coal during that period has fallen from about $85 a ton on average to just $52 a ton and with that the total value of coal produced has fallen by 75 percent.
Direct wages paid by the industry in the county have fallen from $259 million in 2008 to just $160 million in 2014 — a loss of $98.7 million or 38 percent of direct mining wages.
Coal severance tax collections have fallen from $116 million in 2008 to just $28 million in 2014 — down 75 percent — and with that coal severance distributions have fallen by approximately 75 percent as well.
In the meantime, based on the standard multiplier, Boone County has lost approximately 41 percent of the indirect jobs created by the coal industry and about $210 million in indirect wages.
Altogether, Boone County has lost approximately 13,000 jobs either in the county or dependent on mining jobs in Boone County and it has lost about $300 million in wages (direct or indirect), along with most of its most of its coal severance distributions.
The county’s unemployment rate right now is a reported 11 percent and that is based on a population in which less than half the working age people actually work or are looking for work.
It is incomprehensible to me that you all are concerned about the county closing trash dumps.
LISTEN UP PEOPLE — not only will your trash dumps be closing but so will your schools and other county services!  And the same thing is happening all across the state and the region.
This is just a start! And like we have said for the past seven years, this is the result of the Obama war on coal! It’s that simple! You either join us to fight or we all lose!

UPDATED DATA FROM WEST VIRGINIA

Updated Jobs Lost to War on Coal

CHARLESTON — Why is it important for you to be at the OSM hearing in Charleston on September 17th? Here’s why… 8,609 direct mining jobs lost in just the past three and a half years — 35 PERCENT of our mining workforce!
Add to that 48,414 indirect and support jobs and that means the state has lost 56,483 total jobs in just the past four years.
Let those numbers sink in if you don’t think the coal industry matters to you.
Be at the Charleston Civic Center at 5 PM September 17th!

Proximity Detection Rule Up for Public Comment

CHARLESTON – Attached for your information is a pre-publication copy of a proposed rule that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will publish in the Federal Register tomorrow regarding the installation of proximity detection system on underground mining equipment. Also attached is a fact sheet that the agency has prepared. Comments on the rule must be submitted 90-days following publication, approximately Dec. 2, 2015.
Under the proposed rule operators of underground coal mines would be required to install proximity detection systems on mining equipment, coal hauling machines and scoops on working sections using continuous mining machines. Consistent with the proximity requirements for continuous mining machines the proposal indicates that the final rule will be phased-in over a period of 8-36 months depending upon the date of manufacture and installation of proximity technology in advance of the final rule. The proposal solicits comments on application of this rule to equipment in use off the working section. Additionally, the proposed rule is only applicable to underground coal mines however; MSHA specifically solicits comment on extending this rule to underground metal and nonmetal operations as well.

WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION & PRICE REPORT (August 29, 2015): US COAL PRODUCTION CONTINUES TO GAIN AND CLOSES GAP ON 2014

production and price september 5

CHARLESTON – Coal production in the U.S. Terry 2for the week ending August 29th rose for the fourth straight week, continuing a long-term upward trend, and to narrow the gap to last year’s totals significantly in recent weeks, according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).
Production in the United States was up by 240,000 tons (1.3%) to finish the week at 18.70 million compared to last week’s total of 18.46 million tons. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 888,000 tons (4.6%) from the 19.59 million tons for the same week in 2014.
Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains sharply down as of August 29, coming in at 601.83 million tons compared to 657.93 million tons last year – a decline of 56.10 million tons or 8.5%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also continues lower from last year– finishing at 941.01 million tons compared to 982.52 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-4.2%).
Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal rail car loadings remains down from last year, finishing the week at 108,710 cars, off 4.6% from same week in 2014. Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.2% from the same period in 2014.
Coal exports were not updated this week.
Electric output was down 4.1% compared to the same week in 2014, with 83.47 MWH of electricity produced compared to 87.03 MWH produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output, however, was down from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 2.2% from the previous week, coming in at 1.70 million tons compared to 1.74 million tons last week, with a capacity utilization factor of 71.2%. However, steel production was down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.93 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 80.2%. Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 8.0% to 59.23 million tons produced compared to 64.34 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported modest gains for the week ending August 29 compared to the previous week, but all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.88 million tons, up from 4.81 million tons last week (1.4%). Interior Basin production also finished slightly up at 3.61 million tons compared to 3.56 million tons last week (1.4%). Western production finished the week higher at 10.22 million tons from 10.09 million tons last week (1.3%). However, production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 6% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 4.8% from 2014. And Western production is off 3.8% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.1%, the Interior Basin off 7.5% and the Western Basin down 7.0%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins continue lower for the period ending August 29, with the Appalachian Basin down 8.1%, the Interior Basin down 2.4% and the Western Region down 2.9%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 178.93 million tons from 183.36 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 245.54 million tons from 267.25 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 516.53 million tons from 531.92 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 60.12 million tons through August 27. Of that total, 47.78 million tons was mined by underground operations and 12.34 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 90 mines are now reporting production through July 2015.
According to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia fell slightly to 15,052 total miners, with 12,226 working underground and 2,826 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 2.07 million tons compared to 2.05 million tons for the previous week (-1%). Meanwhile, West Virginia production is off by 4.5% from the same week in 2014.
Production was up in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by .04% and .02% respectively. However, production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 1.2% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending August 29 was also up compared to the previous week and remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.37 million tons, up from 1.35 million tons last week but down from the 1.52 million tons for the same week in 2014. The eastern and western regions of Kentucky but the state appear to again be seeing significant declines year over year. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 15.7%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 11.7% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting a 10.0% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 13.5% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was up for the week, coming in at 7.43 million tons, compared to 7.33 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.72 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 3.8%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 2.2%. Illinois production also finished slightly up at 1.23 million tons compared to 1.22 million tons last week. Illinois production is up by 11.5% for the previous 52 weeks.
Indiana production came in at 708,000 compared to 699,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is down by 6.5% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week was also slightly up, to 1.16 million tons versus 1.15 million tons for the previous week, and production in the Keystone State is down slightly (-2.9%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also ticked slightly higher – at 386,000 tons compared to 381,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 16.4% year-to-date and down 13.7% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production increased slightly this week – to 255,000 tons compared to 252,000 tons for last week. Virginia production year-to-date is off by 16.2% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 14.9%.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal rose to at $4 per ton or $1.94 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also fell, coming in at $51.90 per ton or $2.00 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed unchanged at $39.75 per ton or $1.46 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices were firm at $39.55 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is down to $42.95 per ton compared to $42.92 per ton to last week, while Western Rail rose to $10.58 per short ton from $10.56 and Eastern Rail coal is up to $44.30 per short ton from $43.83 the previous week.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub fell 19 cents to finish the week at $2.69 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 69 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.10 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 13 from last week to 864 working rigs. And the count remains down by 1,061 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 55.2%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

SAVE THE DATE — WE NEED YOU THERE TO HELP SAVE YOUR JOBS!

The federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will hold a public hearing in Charleston on Thursday, September 17, 2015 on what they’re calling the Stream Protection Rule (SPR), which is actually the Stream Buffer Zone Rule and is a complete “rewrite” of the federal surface mining act to the detriment of the mining industry and landowners across the country.  This hearing will be held at the Charleston Civic Center, beginning at 5:00 p.m.   The actual hearing will not begin until 6:00 p.m., but we need to have plenty of miners, suppliers, their families and supporters there early to insure we get signed up to speak before others.   Prior to the Charleston hearing, there will be hearings (noted below) in Pittsburgh and Big Stone Gap, VA, which also need strong industry participation.  The earlier hearings in Denver and Lexington, KY have been successful with good industry presence and involvement.
We’re already hurting badly enough, without them “piling on” with more over-reaching regulations.  And, these really over-reach as they will make it virtually impossible to get a new mining permit, renew the ones we currently have or continue operations in any sense.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Please RESERVE THE DATE and plan to be in Charleston on the 17th to help us protect our jobs from this latest attack by Obama’s War on Coal!

  • Thursday, September 17, 2015
    City: Charleston, WV
    Location: Charleston Civic Center
    200 Civic Center Dr., Charleston 25301
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

If you can’t make it to the Charleston event, here are the dates and sites for the other hearings in our region.

  • Thursday, September 10, 2015
    City: Pittsburgh, PA
    Location: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh
    500 Mansfield Ave., Pittsburgh 15205
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 15, 2015
    City: Big Stone Gap, VA
    Location: Mountain Empire Community College
    3441 Mt. Empire Rd., Big Stone Gap 24219
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Del. Rupie Phillips: “Just Say No to EPA”

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Del. Rupert “Rupie” Phillips, D-Logan authored a resolution adopted by web1_phillips_rupert-CMYKthe Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) calling for member states to take action against the Environmental Protection Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The resolution was adopted on July 19 by the energy and environment committee at the four-day annual meeting in Savannah, Georgia.

“Through the Clean Power Plan, the EPA has once again produced another far-reaching, overly burdensome regulation. They’re continually tying the hands coal-producing states and the effects have been absolutely devastating for southern West Virginia.”

Del. Phillips added, “It’s time to draw a line in the sand. The EPA is pushing us around like they are a bunch of punks. I just want the states to stand together and say ‘no.’”

The adopted resolution states, “The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments finds that EPA’s Clean Power Plan interferes with the sovereign powers of the states to regulate electricity within their borders and to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for their citizens. Therefore, The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments urges State Attorneys General to take all legal actions after EPA issues its final Plan to prevent unlawful obligations from being imposed on states, electricity providers, businesses and citizens, up to and including, at each state’s discretion, refusing to submit Clean Power Plan implementation plans to EPA.”

Del. John B. McCuskey, R-Kanawha also attended the conference and supported the measure saying, “As we pass this resolution through the SLC, I am proud to stand with Delegate Rupie Phillips to push back against harmful federal overreach which unfairly targets the hard working men and women of our state’s coal economy. The people of our state don’t want anything extra, they just want a chance to compete, and it is our hope to ensure that these proud people are given the opportunity to continue to power America. The EPA needs to realize that the jobs lost due to their policies are not just statistics, these are real people, and their suffering is real.”

Several other delegates who attended the conference also supported the measure including Del. Gary Howell, R-Mineral; Del. Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie; Del. Joe Statler, R-Monongalia and Del. Mark Zatezalo, R-Brooke.

The Southern Legislative Conference is the largest of four regional legislative groups that operate under the Council of State Governments. It comprises the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Support Changes to WV’s Water Quality Standards that will Help Stabilize the Coal Industry

Enough-is-Enough-2015WHEN:  July 21, 2015, from 6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE:  Coopers Rock Training Room at DEP headquarters in Kanawha City, Charleston.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has FINALLY proposed revisions to the state’s water quality standard for SELENIUM.

In response to a mandate from the West Virginia Legislature, WV DEP is proposing to adopt a fish-tissue based selenium standard that more accurately reflects the most current science on selenium concentrations and stream health.

The proposed standard uses the federal government’s OWN recommendations and calculations and is virtually identical to a similar standard in Kentucky that has been approved by EPA.

State and federal regulators have long known the current selenium water standard was egregiously FLAWED but coal companies and other industries were required to install MILLIONS of dollars in unnecessary treatment systems to meet a meaningless standard.

The proposed revisions to the selenium standard are the first step by the state to implement a more reasonable set of regulatory measures that level the playing field for coal mines in West Virginia.   In addition to selenium, the agency has also proposed changes to the Aluminum standard, another flawed criteria that requires expensive treatment systems, while doing nothing to protect the environment. Most states have NO aluminum standards at all, so the proposed change still makes West Virginia’s standards more stringent than most other coal producing states.

The anti-mining extremists like the Sierra Club will no doubt be at this hearing in full force, spinning fairy tales of environmental woe, alarmism and offering crocodile tears for our communities.

We need to be the REAL representatives of our state’s coal miners and coalfield communities at this hearing by SUPPORTING the proposed water standard changes that are ENTIRELY protective of the environment and restore SANITY and COMMON SENSE to the regulation of mining.