In Seeking Federal Bailout, FirstEnergy Does So at Others’ Expense
FirstEnergy’s plea for a government bailout puts the Trump administration in a difficult political position: Whether to rescue a failing industry at the expense of ratepayers and other sectors of the U.S. energy economy or let market forces determine outcomes. Saving the company “would hurt rival energy businesses and could raise electricity prices for companies and consumers across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.”
Wyoming Has Added Only 5 Full-Time Coal Jobs Since 2016
The latest government jobs report shows Wyoming, the biggest coal-producing state in the U.S., having added only five full-time coal-mining jobs since 2016. The industry is hampered by the rise of natural gas and renewables alongside customer preferences for clean electricity generation. “When companies don’t see a lot of positive on the horizon, they’re always reluctant to hire again,” said one Wyoming official.
FirstEnergy’s Failures Require a Fierce Response From Civic Leaders and Elected Officials
As it closes two nuclear plants in Ohio, FirstEnergy continues a downward spiral leaving communities to pick up the pieces. "As Cindy Winland of the Just Transition Fund has pointed out, the size and the number of closings of coal-fired and nuclear plants in Ohio makes the state an epicenter of energy industry disruption."
Ruling on Montana and Wyoming Federal Coal Lease Policy Another Setback to Mining Industry
In a blow to the coal industry in Montana and Wyoming, a federal judge has ruled that the Bureau of Land Management must consider potential impacts on climate change in deciding on further permitting of federal coal leases. The case could ultimately put a legal limit on the amount of coal mined in the region. “This ruling is the latest example of courts forcing the federal government to be honest with the American public,” one plaintiff said.
Kentucky: ‘You Don't Recover From the Loss of 13,000 Coal Industry Jobs Since 2011 Overnight’
Coal production near Hazard, Ky., has dropped to about 4 million tons a year from 17 million tons a decade ago, and where there were once dozens of coal companies in the region there are now only seven. The labor-force participation rate is roughly 44 percent, compared to 70 percent annually. Economic diversification lags, and towns in the region are in dire financial condition. "We're still dealing with the aftermath of layoffs in the coal industry," said a spokesman for the Hazard-based Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. "You don't recover from the loss of 13,000 coal industry jobs [in eastern Kentucky] since 2011 overnight."
Editorial: In Praise of ‘Public Vigilance’ Around Upstate Post-Coal Transition
In upstate New York, community advocates of various stripes are pressing for public transparency around the cleanup and redevelopment of the defunct Huntley Generating Station, which must proceed “in a way that both protects and includes the public whose members will have little choice but to live with the results.” Huntley, emblematic of an increasingly uncompetitive U.S. coal-fired electricity-generation fleet, closed two years ago this month.
$3 Million in Transition Funding for Colstrip, Montana
In anticipation of the closure of Colstrip Generating Station in Montana, one of the power plant’s owners has pledged $3 million “to help its host community transition beyond coal.” The commitment brings the total in such funding from the station’s owners to $10 million. “Any help is a good thing,” said one advocate for keeping the struggling plant alive. “There’s going to have to be a lot done.”
Clinging to Survival, West Virginia Town Presses for Priority Status
Working-class Minden, W.V., once a thriving coal-mining center and now an EPA Superfund site, is pushing to be added to a federal priority-cleanup status list that already includes 10 West Virginia communities. The town of 250 has a cancer rate four times the national average. “People are tired of being collateral damage and they’re tired of living in a toxic waste dump,” said Paula Jean Swearengin, who is running for U.S. Senate against Joe Manchin, the incumbent.
Wyoming Moves to Protect Taxpayers When Coal Companies Break Cleanup Promises
Wyoming, home of the Powder River Basin and the largest coal reserves in America, is moving to hold coal companies more accountable around their mine-cleanup promises. At issue is industry “self-bonding,” which left taxpayers holding the bag with the bankruptcy last year of companies that included Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, and Peabody Energy. “It’s a recognition that these sophisticated multinational companies were able to take advantage of those loopholes in the older regulations and that there’s some commonsense fixes that could be put into place that make sure that companies aren’t going to leave Wyoming taxpayers hanging,” said one critic of the historical system.
Arizona Lawmakers Decline to Grant Tax Bailout for Failing Navajo Generating Station
Arizona lawmakers have failed to pass a proposed tax-relief bailout for the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi. Owners of the failing operation, which employees about 750 people between the plant and its feeder mine, plan to close it next year because it cannot compete with natural gas and renewables. Activity at the plant is winding down already, and chances for finding a new owner are diminished by failure on the tax relief. One legislator who opposed the tax break said the millions in question would be better used as an economic-development appropriation to the Navajo Nation.