Coal

A federal energy regulator has rejected a proposed rule that would have subsidized nuclear and coal plants, helping those fuel sources compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables.

The rule was described by the Department of Energy as a way to promote the resilience of the electric grid — that is, its ability to provide reliable energy in the face of disruptive events like bad weather.

U.S. coal mines recorded 15 workplace deaths in 2017 only a year after they hit a record low, according to Mine Safety and Health Administration data released on Tuesday.

In 2016, just nine deaths occurred in U.S. coal mines.

West Virginia mines saw eight deaths, Kentucky had two, and one each occurred at mines in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Mimi Pickering, WMMT

  One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission.

Arnold Paul, via Wikimedia Commons

The coal industry cheered the Trump administration’s EPA at recent hearings in West Virginia for the agency’s move to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-era rule would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. 

iStockPhoto

An employee at a Kentucky coal mine has been sentenced for violating the federal Mine Safety and Health Act.

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

Several lawmakers from the Ohio Valley region have joined a bipartisan push to fund what’s called carbon capture and storage. That technology can strip CO2 from power plant emissions. But it is also extremely expensive. Glynis Board of the Ohio Valley ReSource reports that the mounting urgency to address climate change has caused some who were skeptical of the technology to take a fresh look.

In China's coal country, Shanxi Province, the black stuff is a more than just a source of income — it is a source of identity. Lumps of it are for sale at the national coal museum, in elegant, satin-lined gift boxes. The rest of the coal museum is faded and out of date, much like the city of Taiyuan, where it is located, about 300 miles southwest of Beijing.

iStockPhoto

Alpha Natural Resources has announced the transfer of mostly idle mining properties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee to Lexington Coal Co., related ongoing royalty payments and reclamation equipment. 

On Capitol Hill Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended a controversial proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants. "There's no such thing as a free market in energy," he said in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Governments are picking winners and losers every day."

It was a remarkable statement, coming days after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt derided such tipping of the scales as he moved to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to end the Clean Power Plan is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to support the struggling coal industry. The Department of Energy is also pushing a new way to subsidize coal power. But a new study suggests market forces — not regulations — will still make more coal power plants in the region vulnerable.

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