For years, it was impossible to track the spread of mountaintop removal coal mining in Central Appalachia over the course of time. Appalachian Voices has compiled 30 years of satellite imagery and other data to show how this destructive form of coal mining is gradually getting closer to communities, even as coal production in the region is declining.Of the thousands of communities at risk, the research identified the top 50 where the adverse effects of mountaintop removal — including water pollution, increased health risks, poverty rates and population loss — is greatest.
Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth in the United States this year.
Researchers at Duke University, using data from renewable energy trade associations, estimate in a new study published in the journal Energy Policy that more than 79,000 direct and spinoff jobs were created from wind and solar electricity generation between 2008 and 2012.That compares with an estimate of about 49,530 coal industry job losses, according to the study. While natural gas was the biggest winner in creating jobs for electricity generation, with almost 95,000 jobs created in that time, it’s clear renewable energy has been on the rise in the United States.
State laws also helped drive the growth outside of Appalachia. Pratson said. Twenty-nine states specify a percentage of renewable electricity that utilities should meet, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Kentucky and West Virginia are not among them.“States with incentives have more growth,” said Drew Hearer, a Duke University research analyst who co-authored the study. “The Southeast is incentive-free, and there is almost no development of green energy there compared to other regions.”
CHARLESTON (AP) - The West Virginia House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a repeal of an energy portfolio Thursday, which is poised to become the first bill the newly-minted GOP Legislature sends to Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
The House voted 95-4 Thursday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
It's Delightful, It's Delovely, It's Bituminous (Coal Porter)Mine Every Mountain
Thank the Almighty -- I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm Because My Electric Bills Will Be So High Because of Obama's War on Coal That Is If He Doesn't Bankrupt the Country First (classic remix)
Some country sounds:
The E-P-A Makes Me W-E-E-PMy Woman's Gone, My Dog Died, and Obama Just Got Re-electedThe Only Natural Gas I Like Comes From Beans
And of course, some "classic rock" covers:
Stop Making SenseYou Can't Always Get What You WantLight My Fire (With Something Other Than Natural Gas)In a Gadda Da Vida
Rep. David McKinley's bill would dismantle the EPA’s recently announced coal ash protections, put public health and safety at risk by stripping the few critical safety requirements and protections included in the rule, and result in continuing coal ash contamination with no repercussions or responsibility for cleanup.
His latest maneuver came last month when he called on state lawmakers to simply ignore the administration’s new rules, in order to resist Obama’s “attack on the middle class.”His logic, apparently, is that if Kentucky can stave off Obama long enough, the coal industry still has a glorious future ahead. That logic is fundamentally flawed. While Obama’s tenure will probably speed up the country’s transition to cleaner energy, the scales had already tipped against coal long before he took office. Kentucky’s coal production peaked in 1990, and coal industry employment peaked all the way back in the 1920s. The scales won’t tip back after he leaves. The “war on coal” narrative isn’t simply misleading, it also distracts from the very real problem of how to prepare coal mining communities and energy consumers (i.e., everyone) for an approaching future in which coal is demoted to a bit role after a century at center stage.
Hundreds of West Virginia coal workers lost their jobs Tuesday, and according to Murray Energy, the company that laid them off, they have “the ongoing destruction of the United States coal industry by President Barack Obama, and his supporters” to thank.The layoffs — and the justification given for them — were conveniently timed to the legal battle beginning Thursday, in which Murray is one of the plaintiffs bringing suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for its proposed rule limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Regardless of what the actual reason for the layoffs might be, you can’t buy anti-regulatory propaganda like that.
“When people like Mitch McConnell stand up in the U.S. Senate and decry the Obama administration’s war on coal,” he said, “they’re not really helping their constituents. Every hour or dollar spent on fighting the war on coal is a resource that doesn’t go to really helping these people in places where the coal industry is not coming back.”
Coal has got to go. That much is undeniable. Climate change is presenting us with a tremendous, urgent threat, and coal is the dirtiest and largest single source of the fossil fuels still pouring into our atmosphere.But while that’s settled (among scientists, if not some particularly stubborn politicians), the conversation about how we’re actually going to transition away from coal is just getting started. And too often left out of that discussion, says journalist Richard Martin, is the human cost of the industry’s decline — how the people, and communities, built on Big Coal’s promises will be left to fare once it’s no longer in the picture.
This is not a book of advocacy or environmental policy or technology. The premise of the book is if we don’t do something to drastically reduce our consumption of coal, there is no hope of limiting global climate change. My view is either we shut down the coal industry, or it’s going to shut us down. What the book tries to do is take a look at the human drama and the human costs associated with this effort to transform our power system and really, if not shut down, then certainly limit our ongoing consumption of coal.
At a public hearing on this bill held by the House of Delegates, coal miner after coal miner asked the Legislature not to repeal these safety standards. The only supporters of this legislation were coal industry representatives. Not one of those coal industry representatives cited safety of coal miners as their reason for pushing this bill. They cited profits and making coal mines more competitive.The “Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015” will not create jobs. The “Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015” will not make mines safer for our miners. The most important thing to come out of a coal mine is a coal miner. I’m disappointed that many of my colleagues in the House of Delegates do not place the same value on the lives of our coal miners as they place on the profits of the coal industry.
So another coal miner died last night. Sadly, it doesn't get a lot of attention when they die one at a time.
The Kentucky legislature's latest assault in its war on coal miners, House Bill 448, comes on the heels of last year's decimation of state support for mine safety.Budget cuts mandated by the legislature forced a 38-percent reduction in state mine-safety personnel. The legislature also mandated a reduction in safety inspections per mine from six a year to four a year.
And here's commentary by energybiz, a publication for "leaders in the global power industry":Mr. McConnell has insisted for months that Mr. Obama has been waging a “war on coal,” of which the proposed power plant rules are only the latest manifestation. But the real war has been waged by the market and technology, most recently the shift to newly abundant supplies of natural gas.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the newly installed Senate majority leader, is fond of lambasting the Obama administration for its "war on coal’’ and its impact on his Kentucky constituents. Following the latest U.N. climate change meeting in Peru in December, for example, McConnell criticized the administration for its "entire international crusade against coal jobs” and pledged that he would “continue to take the war on coal right back to the president and his EPA with laws aimed at protecting coal jobs. . . .”A review of the commonwealth’s own coal mining statistics shows that the industry has been in decline for years—driven by nothing more than market forces that punish high cost producers. The same market forces that Republicans tend to champion, at least in the abstract.
For our local "newspapers" and a majority of our legislators, market forces don't apply to the coal industry - it's all Obama's fault.
Last week, with little fanfare, PNC Financial, the nation’s seventh-largest bank, disclosed a significant strategic shift. The bank said it would no longer finance coal-mining companies that pursue mountaintop removal of coal in Appalachia, an environmentally devastating practice that has long drawn opposition.It was a big decision for PNC, which has been one of the largest financiers of companies that engage in the mountaintop mining of coal, which involves blasting off the summits of mountains to expose the coal beneath them and dumping the debris into valleys and rivers, which the environmental law organization Earthjustice described as “strip mining on steroids.”
If it became law, the “Secret Science” bill would prohibit the EPA from using science that includes private data, or data that can’t be easily reproduced. Bill sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) says this would stop “hidden and flawed” science from being the basis of EPA regulations, though many scientific organizations have disagreed with the characterization of their data.
The Science Advisory Board Reform Act, would change the rules surrounding which scientists are allowed to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA. The SAB reviews the quality of science used to justify EPA regulations, like rules that limit air pollution from power plants. Among other things, the bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to advise the agency, and would make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board.
Its sole purpose is to prohibit the EPA’s Science Advisory Board from taking into consideration, for any purpose, the following reports:
So. When considering what to do about carbon pollution, EPA may not consider what America’s best scientists have concluded about it, what an international panel of scientists has concluded about it, how the federal government has officially recommended calculating its value, or the most comprehensive solutions for it. Oh, and it can’t consider Agenda 21 either. Otherwise the EPA can go nuts.
According to today’s editorial in the Intelligencer, there is no problem with coal ash:
Doing so would have flown in the face of research indicating coal ash is not a hazardous material. Even the EPA itself, in 1993, 2000 and last December, has reached that conclusion.
Sorry, not classifying it as "hazardous" doesn’t mean that it is safe. And what EPA ruled in December did not rule out regulation of coal ash.
Instead, coal ash will be regulated similarly to household garbage. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy assured reporters on Friday that designating coal ash as solid waste, rather than hazardous waste, would be sufficient to prevent catastrophic spills of coal ash from the ponds the substance is often stored in, and to prevent it from leaching into groundwater, as it has in the past.
I last covered this topic at the end of October when I posted this video from Earth Justice. At the time I said:
Earth Justice recently released this ten minute video about the incredible damage the dumping of coal ash into the environment is doing to the most northern tip of the West Virginia Panhandle. The video interviews two families from West Virginia and Pennsylvania about what is happening there. As Theresa in the video says: "It’s very disturbing."
If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look.
The editorial also claims that:
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., led the fight against the EPA's coal ash proposal. In one of the few victories against Obama's anti-coal initiative, McKinley forced the EPA to back away from its proposal.
The Intelligencer argued this a couple of months ago in an editorial supporting McKinley for Congress. At the time, I could find no support for their assertion. (I also asked readers to contact me if they knew what McKinley had supposedly done.) Is this part of a McKinley PR effort? I still can’t find anything that says it was a second-term representative, David McKinley that forced the EPA to back away. Again, contact me if you know what they are talking about.
Murray Energy on the front page (again)
I have joked in the past that the real owners of Ogden Newspapers are the coal companies. Whatever the coal companies do gets covered regardless of whether its news or not and seldom is another point of view mentioned.
For example, Bob Murray of Murray Energy is on the front page of one of our local "newspapers" at least once a month even if it’s for giving the same anti-EPA, anti-Obama speech he gave the previous month. Today’s Intelligencer tells us that there will be no mining under Barkcamp State Park in Ohio because Murray Energy withdrew its application. (Even though he’s not quoted in the article, there is still a picture of Murray on the front page.) They withdrew it because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that it would take 4 to 6 months to review all aspects of the application.
Could there be some possible objections to this mining from local residents? Shouldn’t we hear what the citizens think about mining under a state park? The article doesn’t suggest any reason to not grant Murray his wishes. I don’t live in Ohio but I’m still glad that they are looking at all aspects before allowing the company to proceed.