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Legislature Looking to Boost State's Coal Industry 

 

The North Dakota Legislature has heard a number of bills that seek to support the established coal industry in the state.

The bills have received widespread support from legislators who believe that helping the industry will continue important revenue streams, keep jobs and bolster a strong power grid.

House Bill 1412 would provide a coal conversion tax exemption on facilities for five years and would cost the state $42.6 million during the 2021-23 biennium, according to the bill’s fiscal note. It received a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Appropriations Committee Friday, April 9.

Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier, cosponsor of the bill, said it is important to help the coal industry in North Dakota.

Craig Headland

“Most of us believe we need a consistent baseload power for our inclement weather that we experience on a regular basis,” he said. Also, “Coal has been an important provider of revenue to the state in the past.”

Headland said the tax exemption is an effort to encourage continued production and generation through the sale and purchase of Coal Creek, one of the state’s coal plants. The Coal Creek plant is slated to close in 2022, but is currently in negotiations over a sale that would keep it open.

“It is just one of the pieces we felt we needed to get into place to make sure that it was done,” he said.

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The Social Cost of Carbon, A CO2 Ambient Air Standard, CO2 As an Air Toxic: None Can Stand as None are Legal Nor Sound

 

By Fred Palmer, Senior Fellow – CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of CO2 and Global Change and Head of Saving US Coal

Politico reported yesterday that environmentalists are “pulling out all the stops” to push the Biden Administration to aggressively move on climate change. Per Politico, recommended measures from the Greens under the Clean Air Act include EPA setting a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for CO2 and also listing CO2 as a hazardous air pollutant requiring Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) for continued production to go forward. These recommendations show once again that logic has never stood in the way of the Greens in their zeal to eliminate the use of coal, oil and natural gas. President Biden’s recent embrace of the Obama Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) shows the US Government is capable of massive illogic as well when it comes to “climate change”, using the SCC as an affirmative change agent in ultimately eliminating the use of fossil fuels. 

Fred Palmer

CO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard 

A CO2 national ambient air quality standard unique to the US is physically not achievable by a collective national effort since every human on earth generates CO2 emissions and breathes the same air on the same planet with resulting same CO2 emissions also from fossil fuel use, no matter what the US does. I am sitting in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia as I draft this. The CO2 content of the air here is the same as Beijing, London, Paris, Ulaanbaatar and Sidney and always will be. These are places my life in coal have taken me often and all places that I love. If we eliminate all fossil fuel use in the US with no CO2 emissions, and China-led Asia and developing Africa maintains and more likely increases CO2 emissions in a people concentrated part of the world where the Chinese economy dominates, the CO2 content of our air will be higher and the same as theirs no matter what we do here with respect to fossil fuel use. This is a scientific result engraved in stone that the US and Greens can’t control and therefore is something the Greens have a hard time understanding as their thinking is entirely agenda driven.

CO2 As an Air Toxic 

As to the Greens’ idea that CO2 is an air toxic: this is bizarre, and again logic is discarded to achieve an unachievable agenda of eliminating the use of fossil fuels. CO2 is a benign gas required for all life on earth, starting with humans and moving down the food chain including the biosphere, agriculture, animal life, all aquatic life and all other living things. Logical people like farmers and greenhouse operators understand that CO2 is a nutrient and that use of CO2 in a greenhouse allows more vigorous plant growth, more food and more wealth because of, not in spite of, CO2. Not to mention that we all exhale it, including the Greens.

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2021 W.Va. Legislative Session Now Completed

The W.Va. Legislature has finalized action on three of WVCA’s major legislative initiatives. These include: 

SB 542 addressing coal-fired plants, http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Status/bills_history.cfm?INPUT=542&year=2021&sessiontype=RS  

SB 718 revitalizing the “Investment Tax Rebate Program”, http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2021_SESSIONS/RS/bills/SB718%20ORG.pdf and,

SB 677 updating and revising various mine safety laws were all adopted.

http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2021_SESSIONS/RS/bills/SB677%20SUB1.pdf 

The pending amendment to SB 542 involving a community revitalization plan for former mining towns was removed from the bill before passage and another piece of legislation we’ve been following -- SB 492 requiring DEP to create and set bonding levels for renewable energy facilities i.e. solar and wind turbines was also passed.

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Global Coal Production Expected to Rise by 3.5% in 2021

Global coal output is estimated to have declined by 2% in 2020 due to COVID-19-related lockdowns and restrictions, with significant reductions observed in the US (23.6%), Indonesia (13.1%), Russia (8.1%) and Australia (5.5%).

These were only partially offset by increases in China (4%) and India (0.7%). Additionally, during the last year, there was an estimated 3.5% reduction in the global thermal coal demand, while the world’s metallurgical coal demand fell by 5.9%.

However, global coal production is set to recover by 3.5% to 8bnt in 2021, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

With the US coal industry already challenged by high production costs and low natural gas prices, the country’s output was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with key companies halting their operations as part of preventive measures.

Additionally, a decline in domestic demand as well as export market demand affected output from Indonesia and Russia.

Global coal production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% between 2021 and 2025 to reach 8.8 bnt in 2025.

While thermal coal production is expected to have a relatively marginal 2% CAGR to reach 7,549.6 Mt, metallurgical coal is forecast to register stronger growth of 4.2% per year, to reach 1,216.9 Mt in 2025

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Not All Jobs Are Created Equal

How we manage the energy transition will have huge implications for the reliability and affordability of our energy supply and for the millions of workers that are the foundation of our current energy system. While there are strong voices – including from labor – calling for caution during the transition, the Biden administration has now made clear it wants to hit the accelerator. And to many observers, the administration is making promises about jobs it can’t keep.

The crux of the problem is that wind and solar jobs don’t compare to mining jobs or the pipefitting jobs so essential to existing energy infrastructure. “When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, told The New York Times. “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.”

Shawn Steffee, a leader of the Boilermakers Local 154 in Pittsburgh, told The Times, “They keep saying, ‘We’re going to transition you into solar jobs.’ That’s not how it works. We build power plants, petrochemical plants and maintain steel mills. Would you ask Tom Brady to play middle linebacker just because he’s a football player?”

These anecdotes are backed up by hard numbers. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's think tank, the Energy Futures Initiative, found that workers employed by solar and wind power companies earn significantly less than those who mine coal or drill for natural gas. Workers who produce coal, oil or natural gas earn on average at $36.32 per hour, or more than $75,500 over a year. Jobs in energy-specific construction, like wind and solar installers, pay about $25.53 per hour, or just above $53,000 for the year.

Community-Supporting Jobs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a coal miner is $89,000 per year. These aren’t just good jobs, they’re community-supporting jobs often in places where similar employment opportunities are rare. Coal mining continues to support 116,000 direct jobs and another 289,000 indirect jobs.

In West Virginia alone, in 2019 the coal mining industry spent more than $2.1 billion on wages and generated about $9.1 billion in economic activity according to the West Virginia University Bureau for Business and Economic Research. When coal electricity generation is factored in, the economic impact in 2019 totaled nearly $14 billion, supporting nearly 33,000 jobs, or about 17 percent of the state’s total economic output.  

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