Op-ed: Proposed Coal bailout would not stop U.S. transition to cleaner energy
A proposal by the Trump administration to save failing coal plants by invoking the Cold War-era Defense Production Act would have little lasting effect on the U.S. electricity-generation sector. A broad cross-section of executives and policymakers concur that the plan would not stop momentum behind a fast-moving transition to cleaner energy. That idea at its core is “a futile attempt to thwart long-term, fundamental change in U.S. energy markets that will proceed nonetheless, and to the benefit of customers everywhere,” the author writes.
Westmoreland Coal cancels plans for new mine in southern Ohio
Westmoreland Coal has suspended a plan to open a new mine in southern Ohio. The company, which has been in financial straits for some time, cited “steadily increasing” costs and “problems and uncertainties” with water permits. The plan had called for mine discharge to be poured into a stream that for years has been part of a recovery program aimed at cleaning up pollution from previous mines. Project opponents included farmers, environmentalists, and ATV enthusiasts.
Ohio businesses push back against coal bailout proposal
Businesses in Ohio are pushing back against plans by the Trump administration to bail out failing coal plants. Ohio’s competitive energy market is at risk, say skeptics of the proposal who see it as a subsidy that would cost electricity customers of every kind. “We favor free-market competition in all industries, including the energy industry,” said a spokesman for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are opposed to all unbalanced state and or/federal support without a defined return on investment for the taxpayers and consumers.”
New Mexico legislators acknowledge need for greater tax-base diversification in San Juan County
Lawmakers in New Mexico are grappling with how to manage the imminent closure of a coal-fired power plant in San Juan County in a way that will protect the local tax base. The state is also exploring job-retraining programs in the area alongside policies that would encourage investment in local renewable energy and natural gas projects. The San Juan Generating Station produces millions of dollars in tax revenues for the county, and its owner, Public Service Company of New Mexico, is seeking a state deal that would support a transition to other forms of more economical power generation.
Survey: Arizona voters prefer a strong ‘outdoor recreation’ economy
In Arizona, where two renewable energy ballot initiatives are being voted on this fall, most voters prioritize development of a more robust outdoor-recreation economy over deeper reliance on extractive energy industries. “Over three-quarters think outdoor recreation will be important to the future of their state’s economy. Similarly, 77 percent believe the presence of public lands and the local outdoor recreation lifestyle are important to attracting good jobs and innovative companies to the state.”
As regulators push for more lenience, a surge in black lung across Appalachia
As the Trump administration, at the behest of coal companies, continues to explore ways to roll back mine dust regulations, a new report shows an upsurge in black lung among miners. The study, “Continued Increase in Prevalence of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis in the United States, 1970-2017,” finds the disease especially prevalent in Appalachian, where it afflicts 20 percent of veteran miners. “We can think of no other industry or workplace in the United States in which this would be considered acceptable,” researchers concluded.
Kentucky just put doctor shopping into law to help coal companies avoid paying for black lung
A new law makes it harder for Kentucky miners to qualify for workers compensation to pay for treatment. The law new law specifies that only physicians with a specific qualification are elligible to be heard in black lung claims.
Commentary: Wind and solar suggest a potential boom in Ohio’s energy industry
Ohio stands to benefit from the expansion of the renewable energy industry, which by one estimate can create $2 billion in economic activity and 5,500 new jobs over the next decade or so. The state’s electricity market is ripe for the development of wind farms, rooftop solar, and utility-scale solar projects that could supply power to 1.1 households, nearly a quarter of the state’s total by 2020. “As the regional market continues to grow, Ohio can capture both investment and economic growth by building wind and solar facilities, providing itself and other PJM states with clean electricity,” writes the author.
Op-ed: Just transition for rural Colorado
A labor leader lauds Denver’s mayor for an initiative that aims to make the city a renewable energy bastion over the next generation, but urges leaders to invest in rural communities, too, where railroad employees, pipe fitters and power plant specialists are being displaced by the electricity-production transition occurring nationally. “Workers who have toiled in the mines, hauled our coal, and operated our power plants for decades deserve our support as we move towards new ways of generating energy,” writes Joshua Downer of the AFL-CIO.
Banks stymie state efforts to collect on mine-cleanup bonds
Cleanup efforts around an Illinois coal mine that closed in 1989 have been stymied by restoration bond guarantees tangled in red tape. The case is similar to others across the U.S. in which mergers of banks have created executive ranks reluctant to honor mine-cleanup assurances. “Failures in the system mean that bond money is sometimes nowhere to be found when it’s needed. In several instances in recent years, banks holding bonds in the form of letters of credit or certificates of deposit have fought back when states sought to collect on them.”