By BILL RANEY, president West Virginia Coal Association
CHARLESTON – The membership of the West Virginia Coal Association today announced it is endorsing Donald Trump, Republican of New York, for the office of president of the United States in this year’s election. The unanimous decision was made at a membership meeting in Charleston earlier today.
“Donald Trump has been firm and clear throughout his campaign in his commitment to rebuild America’s basic industries – the industries that made this country great – such as coal, steel and manufacturing” said Bill Raney, WVCA president, in announcing the endorsement. “Trump has said he will reverse the Democratic regulatory assault that has cost the coal industry more than 40 percent of our production and jobs since 2008.”
“In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s proposals essentially double-down on the job killing Obama policies,” Raney continued. “West Virginia can’t afford that and neither can the nation.”
“We believe that with the leadership team of Donald Trump in the White House and Bill Cole as Governor, West Virginia will begin to rebuild what we have lost to the Obama War on Coal and also look to the future once again with confidence.”
Bill Raney is president of the West Virginia Coal Association, a trade association in Charleston, West Virginia, representing approximately 95 percent of the state’s coal production.
Chris Hamilton Chairman, WV Business & Industry Council
April 30, 2016
Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Business & Industry 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.
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.
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.
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.
By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA
I have read a lot of people talking about the economic problems currently faced by West 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.
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.
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!
BRIDGEPORT — “The Legislature made substantive and impactful progress in the 2015 legislative session and work has begun in earnest on our 2016 agenda,” said Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Bill Cole in his opening remarks during BIC’s fourth regional business forum Thursday at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport, WV. Nearly 60 business and policy leaders from north central West Virginia and across the state participated.
“The legal reforms passed during the last session are starting to bear fruit,” Cole said.
He referenced that a major insurance company doing business in the state has informed him that they will be announcing a rate reduction on auto insurance by nearly 6 percent in the near future. “That is just one tangible example of your legislature getting results.”
“We’re going to continue to move the needle for West Virginia and we’re going to do it in a big way in 2016,” Cole stated. “We’re going to take on the hard issues, many of which may have been taboo in the past, but which will make us competitive and bring us in line with other states.” Cole cited Right To Work and Prevailing Wage as policy initiatives the legislature will be considering.
“We’ve got to make changes now,” Cole said. “West Virginia is one of the only states in the country to see a population decrease and we’ve got to reverse that trend. To do that, we need to double down on the things that are working and stop doing the things keeping us at the top of the “bad” lists.
Cole noted his appreciation for BIC’s role in promoting the policies, as well as the political candidates, that West Virginia needs to move the state forward.
Chris Hamilton, Chairman of BIC, framed the challenges facing West Virginia and BIC’s role in spearheading positive change.
“It is all of our duty here today to support those tackling the hard issues and to elect candidates that will continue this trend into the future,” Hamilton stated.
The event featured a variety of speakers, covering various issues.
Eugenie Taylor with the WV Chamber of Commerce outlined the need for passing public charter school legislation. “For those with resources in West Virginia, they have the option of sending their children to private schools which they may feel provide their children with the support they need to thrive,” Taylor said. “However, for the majority of West Virginians without such means, they have no alternative to public schools.”
“This is in no way an effort to replace public schools,” Taylor said. “It is, however, one more tool that can help move West Virginia forward.” Echoing WVU President Gordon Gee’s comments during the WV Chamber’s recent Business Summit, Taylor said, “West Virginia doesn’t have time for incrementalism. We need all the tools in the toolbox to be available to us now.”
Taylor said the Chamber is working to build a coalition of public charter school supporters and encouraged those in attendance to contact her should they like to participate.
Senate Education Chairman Dave Sypolt outlined the challenges he and his committee face in working to improve West Virginia’s education system. “The West Virginia code includes more than 700 pages dealing with education,” Sypolt said. “My goal is to review and simplify the code to create a more student-centered education system.”
Brian Hoylman, Executive Director of the Associated Builders & Contracts, presented on the movement to enact a Workforce Freedom – or Right To Work – law in West Virginia. “An employee shouldn’t be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of their employment.”
Hoylman cited a MetroNews poll announced on Labor Day which found that 60 percent of West Virginia voters would support a Right To Work law. “Interestingly,” Hoylman noted, “only 30 percent of those polled were republicans, which shows the broad based support this initiative has.”
Delegates Amy Summers and Terry Waxman outlined their desire to improve West Virginia’s healthcare and welfare systems and to implement solutions addressing substance abuse.
Corky DeMarco, President of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, provided an overview on the immense natural gas resources under the ground in our region. “West Virginia and our region will overtake Saudi Arabia in terms of oil and gas production when it’s all said and done,” DeMarco stated. “We need the legislature to take steps to assure production continues and that we maximize the downstream opportunities available for economic growth.”
Chris Hamilton outlined the challenges facing West Virginia’s coal industry and the ongoing impact of President Obama’s war on coal. “We’ve lost approximately 6,000 mining jobs in West Virginia over the past several years and a quarter of our production. While that is devastating to working families and our economy, we hope that the trend has begun to level off. Coal will continue to provide a significant portion of America’s electricity into the future.”
Delegate Paul Espinosa, Kathy Wagner, President of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, and Barbara DeMary, Executive Director of the Region 6 Workforce Investment Board, outlined the economic development challenges and opportunities facing north central West Virginia and the region.
“The two greatest challenges facing north central West Virginia right now are 1) retaining the businesses we have here today, and 2) finding workers for jobs both now and in the future,” said Wagner.
DeMary informed the group that there are a lot of people unemployed and in need of training in the region. She outlined a federal program that will incent food stamp beneficiaries in the Monongalia, Harrison and Marion County region to begin job training programs or lose their food stamp benefits.
The next BIC regional forum will take place in Vienna on Oct. 8.
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.