Editorial: ‘Coal miner’s lives still matter’
A Kentucky newspaper applauds news that federal prosecutors have indicted eight mine managers on charges that they faked coal-dust monitoring results to avoid spending money on proper mine ventilation and to gain a cost advantage over competitors. The charges carry penalties of $250,000 and up to five years in prison. “Stiff punishments,” the editorial notes. “But, then, black lung is a death sentence.”
Editorial: Schemes to subsidize coal industry are part of a rank ‘payback’ that won’t fly
An Ohio newspaper, weighing in on Trump administration proposals to bail out the faltering U.S. coal industry, argues that such initiatives will only deter economic development in more promising sectors. “The loss of coal-related jobs unquestionably has been painful for coal regions, and their anxiety is justified,” the Columbus Dispatch writes. “Trump has exploited that anxiety and anger, winning support by making promises that are bad for the country and most likely can’t be delivered anyway.”
Project to reclaim former Kentucky mountaintop coal mine as 12,500-acre wildlife visitor attraction by 2020
In a pilot project to reclaim land left mostly barren from the closure of Kentucky’s first mountaintop removal coal mine, nonprofit developers plan to open the 12,500-acre Appalachian Wildlife Center by 2020. The idea is to “kick off economic diversity based on conservation instead of coal mining,” says a wildlife biologist leading the initiative. Construction began in June with $35 million raised from donors and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement. Plans include expectations that the center will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
Midwest receives greater transition focus
JTF, long active in Appalachia and in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, sees the Illinois Basin, which underlies much of the state, as an area of growing need. “It’s important to note that what a just transition looks like is different in different places,” said Heidi Binko, JTF’s executive director.
Texas town ‘knew it was coming,’ but is reeling nonetheless from plant closing
The town of Rockdale, Texas, lost much of its tax base with the recent shutdown of the coal-fired Sandow Power Plant. Over 300 jobs were eliminated by the closure in January, and the local school district will collect only $614,000 in property taxes this year from the plant’s owner, Luminant, compared with $4.1 million last year. “We knew that it was coming,” said one local official. “We just didn’t think that it was coming this fast.”
Two ‘zombie’ coal plants in Virginia typify an industry in decline
Two aging power plants that are being kept on life support in Virginia typify the condition of much of the U.S. coal-fired electricity generation fleet. Yorktown 1 and 2, operated by Dominion Energy, are “limping along in the Virginia heat” as Dominion, which has six million customers, joins other major utility companies in turning to cleaner, more affordable options: “In this, it is no different than other utilities around the country that are similarly turning to cleaner energy sources and shutting down coal power.”
Texas city of 50,000 goes 100% renewable, setting a pace for others
Georgetown, Texas, a community of about 50,000 people near Austin, has become the first city in Texas to switch entirely to renewable electricity generation. The city has signed long-term deals for solar- and wind-powered energy in a move that has rid it of its former reliance on coal and natural gas and that serves as a model other municipalities can follow. “Georgetown has already reached out to neighboring cities to help them make the same changes,” reports an Austin cable-news station.
Op-ed: Embracing transition, PSC of New Mexico is acting in customers’ best interest
The Public Service Company of New Mexico, the biggest utility in the state, is doing right by its customers in planning to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station by 2020 and replace it with renewable resources, gas-fired generation and power-storage technology. The transition promises to provide “important and beneficial economic development opportunities for our state and its rural communities,” writes the author, who notes that the wind and solar industries have already invested $4.4 billion locally.
Federal proposals to bail out coal plants continue to fuel a backlash
Trump administration proposals to subsidize failing coal plants continue to anger the oil and gas industry, among others. Administration proposals to impose steel and aluminum tariffs will also damage the U.S. energy as a whole, critics say. One Arizona oil field services company owner said Trump’s “tortured coal policy penalizes natural gas” and that is “seems counter to what he campaigned on.”
Michigan conservatives call for more emphasis on renewables
A conservative energy group in Michigan has published a report calling for expansion of the state’s renewable energy as a way to expand the economy and capitalize on market trends. The report endorses a 15 percent renewable energy standard by 2021 and 20 percent by 2027. “It’s not an unrealistic target, given the trajectory and rapid advances in renewables in Michigan,” said a spokesman for the group.