Montana Ballot Initiative Aims to Smooth Transition
A former Montana lawmaker is promoting a ballot initiative that would have the state’s utilities increase their reliance on renewable energy to 80 percent by 2050. The proposal calls for job retraining and unemployment benefits for up to two years for workers currently employed by coal mines, power plants and railroads. And it includes a mechanism for replacing coal taxes and protecting government and tribal revenue.
Op-Ed: Sensible Change Comes to Virginia
Virginia is on the right path as it adopts stronger energy-efficiency standards, a broader commitment to solar and wind, and regulatory changes that encourage electricity-generation modernization. “Whether you’re an environmentalist concerned about the effects of climate change, a business trying to keep operating costs low or a consumer advocate looking out for low-income customers, this is a historic win that will generate economic and environmental benefits for years to come,” writes the author.
Kentucky: Public School Students Seek a Better Future
Letcher County, in east-central Kentucky, had a thousand coal miners a decade ago. “Today, there are just 28,” and the local economy is so battered that public schools are struggling to make ends meet. Student are beginning to openly advocate for progressive change and economic diversification.
A Mine Closure in Pennsylvania Is Another Sign of the Times
The 4 West Mine in Mount Morris, Penn., is closing soon because its owners say it is no longer a going concern. Almost 400 workers will lose their jobs at 4 West, which produced 1.6 million tons of coal last year, down from 2.1 million tons in 2015, a drop indicative of the industry’s regional decline and of the failing business models coal-mining companies have followed. “It’s going to disappear,” said a local mining consultant. “Gas is going to replace it.”
State Policies and Market Forces Limit What Washington Can Do to Save Coal
Trends in electricity generation are being driving increasingly by state policies that are adding to the larger momentum of market forces. Twenty-nine states have enacted requirements for more reliance on solar and wind which—combined with “the cheap price of natural gas and the rapidly falling cost of renewables,” as one analyst puts it—undermines Trump administration policies and rhetoric aimed at bringing coal-fired electricity back.
Editorial: West Virginia Deserves Better
A newspaper editorial calls for wariness around selling natural-gas assets to outsiders, urging against falling into a wealth-export trap that defined much of the state’s economic past and has left it devastated. “What does West Virginia have to show for a century of tying its lifeline to coal? Abject poverty. Southern West Virginia is almost a ruin.”
Coal company with mines in several states is in financial peril
An analysis of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal shows that it is in deep financial peril, a situation that may affect communities in Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming as the company’s customer base dries up. “The cost inherent in coal-fired power are moving (utilities) away from coal," says the study’s author.
Op-ed: ‘Our people must be the solution’
The president of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. describes progress toward economic diversification in Eastern Kentucky, where data shows gains in career education, self-employment, and property-value assessments as education, entrepreneurship, and private-public partnerships begin to offset coal-industry losses. “Our people must be the solution,” writes the author.
In North Carolina, Duke Energy pursues a long-term plan to drop coal
Responsible for about 60 percent of the state’s energy generation 12 years ago, coal’s share of the electricity-generation market in North Carolina has fallen to less than 30 percent, according to the most recent government data. “We take a long-term view on carbon emissions and continue to believe we will need to drive carbon out of our system,” says a representative for Duke Energy, which serves more than a third of the state’s electricity market.
Colorado’s coal economy has not bounced back
Colorado, which has six working coal mines, reports a 6.5 percent reduction in related job gains in 2017 as utility companies in the region shift toward other electricity-generation resources in a transition that is being led by utility giants that include Xcel Energy. One noted expert on energy markets: “A brand new wind farm will be cheaper to run than an already-paid-for coal-fired power plant.”