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China Targets 70 Gigawatts of Solar Power to Cut Coal Reliance

May 19, 2014

As Washington state governor Jay Inslee recently stated that he looks to wean Washington state utilities off of coal completely, China publicly released a plan last week to speed up their solar power development. This is in response to the devastating pollution caused as a result of coal consumption in China and the growing public pressure to switch to more clean burning power.

In combination, these decisions could have a major long-term impact on the coal companies of the Powder River Basin whom rely heavily on coal exports to the Chinese market as well as utilities in the nearby Northwest.

Read article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-16/china-targets-70-gigawatts-of-solar-power-to-cut-coal-reliance.html

Montana lawmaker criticizes Washington’s coal-power plan

May 12, 2014

Washington state recently proposed to curb carbon pollution by eliminating imports of coal-fired power. Though coal only accounts for 13 percent of Washington’s electricity, coal accounts for almost 80 percent of the Washington utilities’ emissions of carbon dioxide.

In response, U.S. Representative Steve Daines has directly addressed Washington governor Jay Inslee to override this proposal. Daines stated that limiting imports of coal would significantly harm Montana jobs and the economy of the entire state.

 Read article at http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023594089_coalbywirexml.html

Stanford to Purge $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock

May 8, 2014

Stanford University is the most recent case of universities in the United States electing to remove fossil-fuel stocks from their endowments. Earlier this week, Stanford announced that they had become the first major university to address the impacts of coal on climate change and choose to no longer associate university investment with fossil fuel related companies.

Recently there has been news out of Harvard University that pressure from the student body has also pressed for divestment of endowment stocks in fossil fuel companies. So far though, Stanford is the lone major university that has chosen this tactic along with 11 other smaller universities.

 Read article at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/education/stanford-to-purge-18-billion-endowment-of-coal-stock.html?_r=1

Morning Energy Roundup: A bad start to 2014 for Wyoming coal

May 1, 2014

At the close of the first quarter of 2014, the four largest coal companies working in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming all posted losses. The reasons being attributed for these losses are the bad weather and rail interruptions that have slowed down the shipments of coal out of Wyoming.

Nevertheless, coal executives with Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody are all optimistic that next year will see significant improvement in contrast to the losses incurred during this first quarter of 2014.

 Read article at http://trib.com/business/energy/morning-energy-roundup-a-bad-start-to-for-wyoming-coal/article_20e64ae2-cecf-56b0-8bc2-3724ef33a817.html

U.S., Chinese relations strengthen through coal

April 28, 2014

Chinese delegates recently visited the Cordero Rojo mine in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin as part of a three-day tour of Wyoming to increase U.S., Chinese relations. The visit highlights China’s demand for American coal and the massive growth of the energy sector in China.

China is the biggest coal customer in the world and uses four times the amount of coal annually as the United States at over 4 billion tons of coal a year. The government affairs manager for Cloud Peak Energy, Jason Begger emphasized the biggest challenge in getting Wyoming coal into the hands of the Chinese is the challenges of exporting the coal out of the northwest. This article underlines the point that the supply of Wyoming coal is contributing to the vast economic growth of China’s industrialization.

 Read article at http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/news/local/article_76f23605-89f9-5bc5-a005-8bc265dee2ca.html

In Victory for Obama, Court Backs Rules for Coal Pollution

April 29, 2014

The Supreme Court today upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to place regulations on pollution caused from coal-fired power plants that are emitted from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states. This is a major victory in reducing power plant pollution and highlights a decade long battle by the EPA to find a way to limit smog pollution that has been plaguing the eastern seaboard.

This ruling will require coal power plants to reduce their smokestack pollution in an effort to clean up air quality for downwind states. The EPA stated that this ruling would prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illness each year.

 Read article at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/us/politics/supreme-court-backs-epa-coal-pollution-rules.html?_r=1

Barclays and Citigroup Top Backers of U.S. Coal Industry’s Worst

April 17, 2014

Rainforest Action Group, BankTrack and the Sierra Club today released a report that Barclays and Citigroup are the top funders for dangerous coal practices. Barclays has been cited as the top funder of mountain top removal while Citigroup comes in as the top funder for power utilities that burn coal for electricity.

The report also highlighted that JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. have significantly reduced the amount of funding for mountaintop removal. This is an improvement for JPMorgan which last year was cited as being one of the top funders of coal related projects.

 Read article at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-17/barclays-and-citigroup-top-backers-of-u-dot-s-dot-coal-industry-s-worst

Can Coal Ever Be Clean?

April 10, 2014

National Geographic discusses the argument that clean coal is nothing more than a myth. The article discusses the idea of capturing the CO₂ and how long can these deposits actually store the carbon dioxide.

There is evidence from leading Geophysicists that often, the injection of the carbon dioxide is put into reservoirs with brittle rock. This leads to small earthquakes, which cause cracking in the overlying shale rock and leads to CO₂ leaking from the storage facilities.

 Read article at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/coal/nijhuis-text

U.S. House advances bill putting curbs on EPA power plant rules

March 6, 2014

The U.S. Congress passed House Resolution 3826, The Electricity Security and Affordability Act, which would block the EPA’s first-ever national carbon pollution limits of America’s power plants. The bill would curb limits on coal production and passed in the House by a vote of 229-183.

The impact of this bill if it is to be passed in the Senate and not vetoed by President Obama would essentially paralyze the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act by creating a massive loophole that allows America’s power plants to continue releasing unregulated amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

 Read article at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/06/usa-congress-powerplants-idUSL1N0M31AR20140306

BLM Could Enhance Appraisal Process, More Explicitly Consider Coal Exports, and Provide More Public Information

February 4, 2014

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released findings related to coal leasing and the need for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to enhance the appraisal process. GAO found that the BLM consistently failed to explain the rationale for accepting bids for coal leasing on federal land that at least initially were far below the actual fair market value presale estimates.

The report stated that the state offices of the BLM did not allow independent review of these leasing agreements with coal companies. Additionally, GAO cited that the BLM failed to take advantage of an independent third party appraisal within the Department of the Interior (Office of Valuation of Services).  Lastly, GAO was highly critical of the BLM’s failure to provide even limited information to the public on federal coal leasing.

 Read article at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-140

 See document at http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659801.pdf

BLM Could Enhance Appraisal Process, More Explicitly Consider Coal Exports, and Provide More Public Information

February 4, 2014

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released findings related to coal leasing and the need for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to enhance the appraisal process. GAO found that the BLM consistently failed to explain the rationale for accepting bids for coal leasing on federal land that at least initially were far below the actual fair market value presale estimates.

The report stated that the state offices of the BLM did not allow independent review of these leasing agreements with coal companies. Additionally, GAO cited that the BLM failed to take advantage of an independent third party appraisal within the Department of the Interior (Office of Valuation of Services).  Lastly, GAO was highly critical of the BLM’s failure to provide even limited information to the public on federal coal leasing.

 Read article at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-140

 See document at http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659801.pdf

Bonding Adequacy Oversight Report – Western Region – Dept of Interior – 2010

State by state survey of practices for bonding coal mines. Published July 8, 2010

/documents/bonding-adequacy-oversight-report-western-region-dept-of-interior-2010