Trump Outlines Economic Plan that will Restore our Nation’s Economy and put our People Back to Work

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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

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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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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.

A New Plan to Get West Virginia Moving

By Bill Cole, Lt. Governor
President, West Virginia State Senate
 IMG_6895 (2)

There is no doubt that West Virginia is facing an economic and a fiscal crisis. We are reminded constantly of our troubled times. Miners being laid off because of President Obama’s War on Coal. A majority of our adults not working. High unemployment. Dead last in job growth because we are the most over-regulated state in the nation. A $353 million state budget deficit that is only going to grow in the short term because of the dramatic decline of severance taxes and the ripple effect it will have on income and sales taxes.

Now more than ever, we need a new direction. A new plan to move our state forward. We can no longer keep doing the same things and expecting different results. As a small businessman, I know what it takes to meet budgets, control costs, and above all, create jobs. These are the very principles I am applying in my duties as President of the West Virginia Senate.

Last year, the West Virginia Legislature took dramatic steps to pass comprehensive legal reforms that have already resulted in lower insurance rates. In all, we were able to get 10 bills passed and signed into law to help relieve the budgets of families and small businesses. In the first half of this year’s session, we have taken bold steps to jump start our economy by passing the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act that sends a message loud and clear to the rest of the country that this state is a place open for new jobs.

We also reformed our labor laws by eliminating West Virginia’s prevailing wage rate. This protects taxpayers, increases capital for new construction and allows more local businesses to compete for public projects instead of protecting a rigged system for a select few. This will get more of our state’s workers back to work.

These efforts faced great opposition from special interest groups who simply want to protect the status quo. But, West Virginia must change if we are going to compete, get our economy growing, and create jobs. We must create a new plan that will enable us to grow.

The Senate also has taken steps to help our coal industry get back on its feet. We are working to make sure that a tax that is set to expire does so. And, we are working to repeal outdated regulations that are strangling businesses’ ability to grow and create jobs.

A new plan for our state must be rooted in development of the infrastructure of tomorrow. That’s why the Senate is acting to ensure every part of our state has access to high speed broadband by providing tax credits for broadband development in rural areas. We also will take up efforts to fund the middle mile across West Virginia. We must work quickly towards a goal of meeting the FCC’s 25 Mbps standard for every region of our state. The expansion of broadband is a jobs bill for both the short term to build it and the long term, as it will spur entrepreneurship and increase education opportunities for students.

Many people have said we are taking up too many tough issues that will be used against us politically. Each member of the Legislature got elected to do what they think is right. Despite some of the bitter disagreements recent actions have created, I firmly believe we need to advance

a new plan to move our state forward that creates jobs. There are only two types of jobs I care about – good jobs, and jobs right here in West Virginia.

Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, represents the Sixth Senatorial District, which includes Wayne, Mingo, McDowell and Mercer counties.

Marshall’s Thundering Herd are Friends of Coal: Join the Herd for Friends of Coal Day This Thursday

HUNTINGTON – The Marshall University Marshall Friend of Coal Night GraphicThundering Herd want the world to know they are Friends of Coal.

This Thursday, February 18th, at 7 p.m. the Herd will play host to the Charlotte 49’ers at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington. All coal miners and affiliated employees can use the promo code HERDCOAL on Herdzone.com, or just show your Friends of Coal sticker at the door to receive tickets discounted to just $5 tickets for the game.

The Herd’s Head Basketball Coach Dan D’Antoni said the night will be a “special night honoring the coal miner and all those who work in the coal industry in West Virginia.”

The team will wear its black uniforms in honor of our coal miners. D’Antoni called for a “blackout” at the game.

D’Antoni knows the importance of coal to the state firsthand.

“My grandfather was a coal miner and I grew up in coal country,” D’Antoni said. “The first 500 fans will receive a special Friends of Coal t-shirt and we hope everyone else will wear black to honor our proud history here in the state.

West Virginia Coal Association Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton said the event shows the bonds between the industry and the state.

“We are proud of our relationship with the state’s universities,” Hamilton said. “Many of our miners, their children, our management, their children and grandchildren have worn the green and white of Marshall. We appreciate Marshall’s recognition of our people and we urge all Friend of Coal to head to the Henderson Center this Thursday evening.  Let’s rock the Henderson Center with coal!”

For More Information watch Coach D’Antoni announce the event here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waFtpe3Dhd4&feature=youtu.be

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U.S. Coal Production Off 13 Percent from Last Year

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (January 22, 2016)

Coal and Gas Prices Jan. 22, 2016

Coal Prices

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA
Energy Analyst
CHARLESTON – According to the latest reports from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the U.S. finished 2015 off approximately 13 percent from 2014 totals. Meanwhile spot prices for coal continue their long term decline and natural gas slipped back slightly from recent highs.
According to the EIA’s January 2, 2016 weekly report, U.S. coal production for the year totaled 886.49 million tons, down from 995.47 million tons (down 11.1 percent). The trend appears to be steepening. According to the EIA’s January 22 report, production was only 13.32 million tons, off from 19.61 million tons for the same week a year ago (off 32 percent). This is mirrored in the week’s rail car loadings, which at only 75,308 car loads, off 32.7 percent from the 111,982 car loads. 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 last week 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 November (the most recent data available) were sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 39 percent from November 2014 and steam coal exports are off by 34 percent. Imports of coal into the U.S were down for the month by 12.1 percent. For the year ending December 31, metallurgical coal exports were down 24.7 percent and steam coal exports were down 21.8 percent compared to the same period last year. Imports of coal for the year were down 3.8 percent from 2014.
Electric output was down 3.9 percent compared to the same week last year, with 79,650 MWH of electricity produced compared to 68,519 MWH produced for the same period last year. Electric production for the year was off 3.9 percent, which can be attributed at least in part to the mild fall across most of the country.
Domestic steel output, however, was down from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the week ending January 16, 2016, domestic raw steel production was 1,652,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 69.1 percent. Production was 1,807,000 net tons in the week ending January 16, 2015 while the capability utilization then was 76.4 percent. The current week production represents a 8.6 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 16, 2016 is up 3.6 percent from the previous week ending January 9, 2016 when production was 1,594,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 66.7 percent.
Adjusted year-to-date production through January 16, 2016 was 4,686,000 net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 65.3 percent. That is down 13.4 percent from the 5,412,000 net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 76.4 percent.

coal prod and price graphic
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported significant losses for the year.
The Appalachian Basin finished the year at 226.72 million tons, down from 267.70 million tons in 2014 (-15.3 percent). Interior Basin production also finished the year down at 167.92 million tons compared to 188.16 million tons last year (-10.8 percent). Western production finished the year at 491.85 million tons from 541.55 million tons last week (-9.2 percent). For the week ending January 16, production was also down in two of three basins. Appalachian Basin production finished the week at just 3.24 million tons, off from 3.31 million tons last week. The Interior Basin finished the week at 2.50 million tons, off from 2.53 million tons, and the Western Basin finished slightly up at 7.58 million tons from 7.56 million tons.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 100.65 million tons through December 15th. Of that total, 82.19 million tons was mined by underground operations and 18.56 million tons was produced by surface mining. Only 58 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 grew slightly to 15,774 total miners, with 12,705 working underground and 3,069 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis. Final reports for 2015 are due by the end of January and will be reflected in February reports.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the year totaled 97.81 million tons, off from 111.87 million tons. This is off 12.6 percent from 2014. EIA always reports lower production than state reports. Meanwhile, West Virginia production finished the week of 1.26 million tons, up slightly from 1.25 million tons the previous week, but off from 1.89 million tons last year.
Production was down in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last year by 6.7 percent and 23.2 percent respectively. For the week, northern West Virginia production finished up at 644,000 tons versus 620,000 tons last week and 892,000 tons last year. Southern West Virginia, however, finished down at 618,000 tons versus 628,000 tons last week and 993,000 tons a year ago.
For this week, we will focus on annualized coal production for other states, picking up weekly totals with next week’s report.
Coal production in Kentucky ended the year at 63.20 million tons produced, down by 18.1 percent from the 77.19 million tons from 2014. Eastern Kentucky coal operations finished the year at 29.52 million tons, down by 21.1 percent to 37.39 million tons. Meanwhile, western Kentucky coal operations finished off by 15.4 percent, at 33.68 million tons versus 39.39 million tons in 2014.
Wyoming coal production finished the year at 369.10 million tons versus 394.78 million tons in 2014, off by 8.3 percent .
Illinois coal production finished 2015 at 59.81 million tons versus 57.96 million tons, up by 3.2 percent from 2014. Indiana production, however, fell significantly, finishing at 34.71 million tons versus 39.16 million tons the previous year. Ohio production finished 2015 off by 20.9 percent – at 17.55 million tons versus 22.19 million tons in 2014. Pennsylvania production was down by 16.3 percent year over year, finishing at 51.63 million tons in 2015 versus 61.66 million tons in 2014. Virginia coal production continued to fall in 2015, finishing the year down 14.5 percent — at 13.21 million tons versus 15.45 million tons in 2014.
Coal prices on the spot market were all down this week, with all basins finishing down for the year. Central Appalachian coal finished the week at $42.25 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished down, coming in at $48.60 per ton or $1.87 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed down at $32.20 per ton or $1.36 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal fell to $9.70 per ton or $0.55 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished at $39.95 per ton or $1.71 per mmBtu.

gas prices  hub

Delivered gas prices
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub continued fell back slightly this week to finish at $2.32 per mmBtu from $2.38 per mmBtu last week and significantly off from $3.08 per mmBtu a year ago. Natural gas producers reported a significant decline in their stored reserves – down 168 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 13 from last week to 637 working rigs. And the count remains down by 996 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 36%. 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.

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.

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (November 12, 2015): U.S Production Continues to Trend Below 2014

CoalCommodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2 $49.00 $1.96
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3 $52.00 $2.00
Illinois Basin 11,800 5 $32.75 $1.39
Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8 $11.55 $0.66
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8 $40.55 $1.73
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)      n/a 0.01 n/a $2.02

CHARLESTON – Coal production in the U.S. for the week ending November 7th fell slightly from the previous week, continuing to trend below 2014, according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).
Production in the United States was down by 158,000 tons (-1.0%) to finish the week at 16.47 million compared to last week’s total of 16.63 million tons. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 2.87 million tons (15%) from the 19.35 million tons for the same week in 2014.
Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains sharply down as of November 7th, coming in at 775.60 million tons compared to 851.29 million tons last year – a decline of 75.68 million tons or 8.9%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also continues lower from last year– finishing at 921.85 million tons compared to 987.97 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-6.7%).
Meanwhile, the number of coal rail car loadings remains down from last year, finishing the week at 94,974 cars, off 1% from same week in 2014.  Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.6% from the same period in 2014.
Coal exports for the month of September continue sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 33.2% from September 2014 and steam coal exports are off by 27.4% Imports of coal into the U.S. is up by 21.3 percent.  Year-to-date, metallurgical coal exports are down 21.5% and steam coal exports are down 22.6% compared to the same period last year. Imports of coal are up 6.1% for the period versus last year.
Electric output was down 1.8% compared to the same week in 2014, with 68.62 MWH of electricity produced compared to 69.89 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 1.4% from the previous week, coming in at 1.62 million tons compared to 1.64 million tons last week, with a capacity utilization factor of 67.7%.  Steel production is down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.86 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 77.2%. Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 8.2% to 76.13 million tons produced compared to 82.94 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported modest losses for the week ending November 7th compared to the previous week, but all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.03 million tons, down from 4.04 million tons last week (-0.5%). Interior Basin production also finished down at 3.17 million tons compared to 3.24 million tons last week (-2.2%). Western production finished the week lower at 9.27 million tons from 9.36 million tons last week (-0.1%).  However, production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 17.1% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 13.9% from 2014. And Western production is off 14.2% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 13.6%, the Interior Basin off 8.6% and the Western Basin down 6.6%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins continue lower for the period ending November 7th, with the Appalachian Basin down 11.6%, the Interior Basin down 6.0% and the Western Region down 4.5%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 174.43 million tons from 185.52 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 236.49 million tons from 267.57 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 510.93 million tons from 581.73 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 81.10 million tons through November 5th. Of that total, 65.39 million tons was mined by underground operations and 15.71 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 107 mines are now reporting production through September 2015.
According to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia fell slightly to 14,848 total miners, with 12,052 working underground and 2,796 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 1.74 million tons essentially unchanged from the previous week (-1%).  Meanwhile, West Virginia production is off by 13.9% from the same week in 2014.
Production was up in the northern coalfields but down in the southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. However, production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.3% and 18.2% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending November 7th was also up slightly compared to the previous week but remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.12 million tons, up from 1.11 million tons last week but down from the 1.39 million tons for the same week in 2014. Production in eastern Kentucky picked up slightly, while western production declined slightly. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.5%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 41.7% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 11.8% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 17.8% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was down for the week, coming in at 6.87 million tons, compared to 6.94 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.93 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 1.1%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 9.0%.
Illinois production finished down, at 1.15 million tons compared to 1.20 million tons last week. Illinois production is up by 8.7% for the previous 52 weeks.
Indiana production came in at 638,000 compared to 642,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is down by 7.2% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week was also down, to 941,000 tons versus 950,000 tons for the previous week, and production in the Keystone State is down sharply (-10.9%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also ticked slightly higher – at 301,000 tons compared to 298,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 19.6% year-to-date and down 17.8% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production was unchanged this week – at 227,000 tons.  Virginia production year-to-date is off by 12.6% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 12.6%.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal rose slightly to finish the week at $1.96 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished slightly up, coming in at $52.00 per ton or $2.00 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed down at $32.75 per ton or $1.39 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished  at $40.55 per ton or $1.73 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is up to $42.02 per ton compared to $41.88 per ton to last week, while Western Rail rose slightly to $10.18 per short ton from $10.16 and Eastern Rail coal is up to $37.63 per short ton from $36.62 the previous week.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub continued to fall this week to finish the week at $2.02 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 52 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.93 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 4 from last week to 771 working rigs. And the count remains down by 1,154 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 60%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

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.

Coal Seam for November features Coal Miner Sculptor Burl Jones  

CHARLESTON — The November episode of The Coal Seam is now airing and features a show about the West Virginia Coal Miners Memorial Statue on the Capitol grounds in Charleston. Host Chris Hamilton is joined by very special guest Burl Jones, the internationally renowned sculptor who created the memorial.

The Coal Seam is filmed monthly at the West Virginia Library Commission Television Network studios in the State Archives. The

The show reaches approximately 577,000 households across the state via public access television cable stations and is available on your local cable television public access channels, including Suddenlink Channel 17 in the Charleston area. It is also vid-cast via the WV LTN website at http://www.librarycommission.wv.gov/programs/ltn/videoserver/Pages/coalseam.aspx and is also available on the West Virginia Coal Association website at www.wvcoal.com.