Thanks to The Washington Times for carrying my new op-ed on the causes of the Texas grid crisis this winter had how they could lead to another crisis in the future if action isn’t taken to ensure fuel security and reliability by adequately valuing coal and nuclear power.
Many thanks to the Alaska Journal of Commerce (AK), Casper Star Tribune (WY), Memphis Commercial Appeal (TN), Logan Daily News (OH), Somerset Daily American (PA) and The Tennessean (TN) for carrying my op-ed on the effects of the Polar Vortex on the electric grid and the importance of coal for power generation to keep the lights on.
Thanks to the Pottstown Mercury (PA), Exton Daily Local (PA), Swarthmore Times Herald (PA), Lansdale Reporter (PA), Delaware County Daily Times (PA), Phoenixville News (PA), Mainline Media News (PA), Elkhart Truth (IN) and Roanoke Times (VA) for carrying my new op-ed on the necessity of coal generation during extreme weather conditions, like the current Polar Vortex gripping the country.
Three regional grid operators–Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), have instituted rolling blackouts due to insufficient power generation. For SPP, this is the first load shedding event in its long history. For MISO, this is the second such event in 16 months (the first was due to the Hurricane Laura disaster). The reason for the energy insufficiency is simple–coal plants in this country were retired prematurely as utilities scrambled to jump on the “clean energy” bandwagon. Now, we can expect rolling blackouts to become the norm. Welcome to the future!
In the news today…
- E&E Energywire reports the upcoming presidential inauguration of Joe Biden has opened the floodgates this week on proposals for achieving the clean energy future he has promised.
- Mining.com reports the Apache tribe claims the U.S. does not own the land it is preparing to give to Rio Tinto to mine on.
- Lincoln Journal Star reports a federal judge has denied a request from a group of Apaches who sought to keep the U.S. Forest Service from issuing an environmental review of a copper mining project until the court takes up a larger case over who legally owns land known as Oak Flat.
- Casper Star Tribune reports Wyoming’s amended financial forecast indicates oil production and coal extraction increased in calendar years 2020 and 2021, but the state still has an unsustainable revenue model that depends on revenue from fossil fuels.
- Associated Press and E&E Greenwire report five miners died in U.S. coal mines in 2020, an all-time low mark for an industry in a year that saw continuing declines in production as electric providers move away from burning coal.
- Politico Pro reports the Interior Department has finalized a rule changing how companies calculate royalty payments for oil, natural gas and coal extracted from federal lands, a move the Trump administration says will save the industry $28.9 million a year.
- Barron’s reports coal is experiencing a mini-rebound.
- Star Tribune reports efforts to slow copper-mining’s advance into Minnesota are intensifying, with state lawmakers proposing a prohibitive measure that would require mining companies to show proof that a similar non-iron, hard-rock mine has operated safely elsewhere.
- Mining.com reports buoyed by the ramp-up of its Lucky Friday mine in Idaho, following a nearly three-year strike by unionized workers at the operation, Hecla Mining produced 13.5 million oz of silver in 2020 – the highest since 2016.
Hello Thursday! In the news today…
- E&E Greenwire and Mining.com report an Apache nonprofit sued the Forest Service to try to prevent a land swap that would see copper miners take ownership of an Apache holy site in Arizona.
- Star Tribune reports Minnesota Power will shutter and convert its last two coal-power plants by 2035 as it moves toward a promised 100% carbon-free energy mix by 2050.
- The Durango Herald reports a professor of history and environmental studies says treachery and deceit allowed Peabody Coal Co. to mine Black Mesa coal, betraying the trust of the Hopi and Navajo Nations.
- Axios reports President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to accelerate movement away from fossil fuels, could initially preside over a coal and oil production surge.
- Mining.com reports global supplies of lithium used to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries will fall short of projections for demand to more than triple by 2025 if prices do not rebound to fund expansions, an executive at industry leader Albemarle Corp said on Tuesday.
- Inside EPA reports EPA’s just-released analysis of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2019 shows an overall 9 percent drop in disposal and other releases of chemicals driven by declines in reported air emissions and land disposal, though those gains were partly offset by rising off-site disposal and surface water discharges.
- The Hill reports a coalition of 17 states and New York City are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision not to tighten major air pollution standards.
In the news today…
- E&E Greenwire reports the state of Alaska will appeal the Army Corps of Engineers’ denial of a water permit for the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced Friday.
- Axios reports the electric vehicle era, barely underway, could soon be stifled by a shortage of batteries and raw materials that will require significant investments in U.S. manufacturing, mining and recycling.
- The State Journal reports West Virginia’s gas, oil and coal advocacy groups prepare for the upcoming state legislative session, with the latter aiming to preserve coal-fired power plants and access to international markets for steel-making coal.
- Financial Times reports renewables capacity is surging in the US state that is the heartland of fossil fuels.
- The Salt Lake Tribune reports Utah has fully joined the latest round of lawsuits over exporting coal through West Coast ports, this one brought by Utah coal-producer Wolverine Fuels fighting one city’s coal ban that threatens to disrupt an export program that helps keep Utah mines churning.
- E&E Energywire reports that states are relying on securitization to shut down coal plants.
Good Monday morning!
In the news today and from the weekend…
- E&E Greenwire reports large mining projects are now eligible for expedited permitting under a rule the Trump administration published Friday.
- Financial Times reports the end of the Millennium Bulk Terminal.
- E&E Greenwire reports the battle over a proposed copper and nickel mine near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness may soon tilt toward the opposition.
- Mining.com reports James Robert “Jim Bob” Moffett, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Freeport-McMoRan, has died.
- Reuters reports Albemarle Corp said on Thursday it will double production at its lithium facility in Silver Peak, Nevada, part of a plan to boost supply for the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market.
- Mining.com reports US President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration plans to approve a land swap on Jan. 15 that Rio Tinto and partners need to build a copper mine in Arizona, clearing a long-time hurdle for the project that is opposed by many Native Americans.
- S&P Global reports weekly US coal production was estimated to be over 9.8 million st in the week ended Jan. 2, up 12.5% from the previous week, Energy Information Administration data said Jan. 7.
- E&E News PM reports EPA’s long-delayed carbon rule for new power plants will be final soon, and it could contain significant changes from the proposal, aimed at impeding the ability of President-elect Joe Biden’s EPA to regulate industrial sectors other than power generation.
- Mining Review reports the World Coal Association acknowledges the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2020 and calls for the IEA to continue its support of all fuels and clean technologies to meet global energy needs and reach net-zero emissions.
Good Friday morning!!
In the news today…
- Mining.com, KFGO and News 18 report from Reuters that outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is moving to loosen mining regulations and green light new mineral projects before leaving office this month, with successor Joe Biden unable to reverse some of the changes.
- S&P Global reports the U.S. coal sector continued to struggle under the pro-coal Trump administration and will likely face new challenges on the political front under a Biden presidency and a U.S. Congress controlled by Democrats.
- Grand Forks Herald reports a transition from coal to wind generation is occurring in North Dakota.
- Argus reports US thermal coal exports inched higher in November from a year earlier as shipments to parts of Asia and Latin American climbed.
- Utility Dive reports the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and Washington State Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that they adopted rules in late December to guide implementation of the state’s 2019 Clean Energy Transformation Act. Under the law, electric utilities in Washington must eliminate coal-fired power by 2025, achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and source 100% of their energy from renewable or non-carbon emitting sources by 2045.
- Argus reports the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department have issued final regulations for tax credits for building facilities for carbon capture and enhanced oil or natural gas recovery.
- MinnPost reports recycling copper and other metals can help address the climate crisis, increase jobs, and provide the materials needed to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.
In the news today…
- Surrey Now-Leader reports the United States government has approved US$3.6 million in spending to help Alaska pressure the B.C. government into reforming mining regulations they claim are lax and present an imminent threat to fish and habitat in transboundary watersheds.
- Washington Post and E&E Greenwire report a Michigan judge has overruled state regulators who approved a key permit for a proposed open-pit mine in the Upper Peninsula, another delay for a project that has been debated for nearly two decades.
- Wyoming Public Media reports a federal bankruptcy court has authorized the rejection of the ground lease between the Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC and Lighthouse Resources Inc, effective this Friday, Jan. 8.
- Argus reports a federal bankruptcy court has given Powder River basin coal producer Lighthouse Resources approval to shed its sub-lease and assets tied to Millennium Bulk Terminals, potentially ending efforts to build the proposed west coast coal export terminal project.
- The Logan Banner carries an editorial that argues against closing coal-fired power plants in West Virginia.
- The Charleston Gazette-Mail carries a letter to the editor arguing for the abandonment of coal-fired generation.
- Argus reports coal-fired generation in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) fell by 14pc in 2020 from a year earlier as renewables and natural gas gained market share.
- WIFR reports in response to Exelon’s announcement of the premature closure of two of Illinois’ six nuclear plants, the Illinois AFL-CIO released an updated version of the Brattle Group’s Illinois Nuclear Impacts Report, which highlights the economic losses and environmental impacts Illinois’ and its local communities will face with the retirement of these plants.
In the news today…
- Mining.com reports U.S. President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration plans to approve a controversial land swap needed for Rio Tinto Ltd and partners to build an Arizona copper mining project that Native American tribes say will destroy sites of cultural and religious value.
- Argus reports coal-fired generation in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) rose on a year-over-year basis in December for only the second time in all of 2020, as nuclear and natural gas power slipped.
- Associated Press reports the owner of a Colorado coal-fired power plant announced plans to close the facility by 2028, years earlier than originally planned.
Happy New Year!
In the news today and from the weekend…
- CIM Magazine reports global mining has made efforts to increase investment, particularly in critical minerals in the U.S.
- Argus reports US coal production is on pace to fall by 24pc this year, capping off what has been a tumultuous 2020 in the coal market.
- Inside EPA reports the publication of EPA’s final overhaul of cost-benefit procedures for its air program is setting the stage for administrative and legal steps by the incoming Biden administration and its allies to reverse the policy, including claims that Trump officials improperly deemed the rule immediately effective.
- ReNews reports that Enel Green Power begins operating the 199 MW expansion of a Kansas wind project while also bringing online a 236 MW wind project in Missouri.
In the news today…
- Forbes has a piece on the Navajo Transitional Energy Co. (NTEC).
- The Charleston Gazette Mail carries a piece from the West Virginia Coal Association highlighting the importance of preserving West Virginia’s coal industry for the future.
Department of Interior:
- The Washington Post carries an op-ed calling on the Biden administration to restore Bears Ears to its original borders, and consider instituting true co-management of the monument.
- The Guardian reports that floating barges fitted with advanced nuclear reactors could begin powering developing nations by the mid-2020s, according to a Danish startup company.
Good Monday Morning! In the news today and from the weekend…
- Inside Sources ran an op-ed arguing that the current need to improve America’s infrastructure will also require an increase in raw materials for construction, with U.S. met coal producers well-positioned to supply the coal needed for the world’s increasing steel needs.
- E&E News reported that a proposed land swap to accommodate the Resolution Copper project in Arizona could face delays after an advisory council found flaws with the Forest Service’s tribal consultation.
- The Financial Times ran an op-ed highlighting the need for increased production of metals and minerals required for electric or hydrogen economies, noting that any decarbonization goals must take into account the minimum of seven to 10 years required for developing the new mines we will need.
- The Anchorage Press reports that, in a down year for most industries, the mining industry is doing well.
- Utility Dive reports on how COVID-19 is affecting the energy sector. The industry could face declines in demand, distracted regulators and disrupted supply chains, according to experts.
It’s Christmas Eve Eve! In the news today…
COVID-19 Relief Bill:
- E&E breaks down the energy and environment provisions in the omnibus.
- The Financial Times reports that developing economies in Asia are turning away from coal.
- Real Clear Politics reports that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has urged President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to submit both the Paris climate pact and the Iran nuclear deal to the Senate for a vote, potentially blocking President-elect Joe Biden’s path to bring the country back into both agreements should the Senate fail to ratify them. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Twitter last week that he is working to secure a Senate vote on both deals.
In the news today:
- Utility Dive reports that Congress on Monday passed another stimulus package as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes extensions on the solar and wind production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC), energy efficiency incentives, research and development “enhancements” for clean energy technologies and more, according to a joint statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
- The Hill reports that the CDC warned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rationale for keeping Obama-era standards on particulate matter was “not scientifically defensible” before the agency finalized the rule earlier this month.
- Utility Dive reports that the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) on Wednesday backed away from a plan to accelerate the closure of three coal plants, after regulators expressed concerns about the “feasibility of the transitions if the closure dates are moved up.” The plants impacted by the decision include Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s Craig 3 unit; Platte River Power Authority’s Rawhide plant, and Colorado Spring’s Nixon facility.
- E&E reports that green groups are stepping up their fundraising and bringing in millions in support of the Democratic candidates in the Senate runoff elections set for next month in Georgia.
Good Monday morning! I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing weekend!
In the news today and from the weekend…
News from the Hill
- E&E reported that House and Senate leaders yesterday announced they had reached a deal on a $1.4 trillion fiscal 2021 spending omnibus, pandemic relief legislation and a number of major items that will ride along including: language from the “Water Resources Development Act of 2020;” directions for increased spending and the demonstration of a number of new technologies needed to help combat climate change, including carbon capture; an extension of the Black Lung Excise Tax; a delay of the phaseout schedule for the renewable and investment tax credits, with the PTC extended for one year and the ITC extended for two; and a two year extension of the Section 45Q carbon capture incentive; among other items.
- E&E reports on IEA’s projections that global demand for coal is projected to increase 2.6% next year due to rising consumption in Asia and an anticipated spike in electricity use worldwide.
- The Roanoke Times published an editorial about the shift in the Virginia Coal industry towards met coal.
- The New York Times reports that, in its final days, the Trump administration is pushing through approvals of certain mining projects.
- The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a point, counterpoint examining both sides of the arguments around the Twin Metals mining project.
- The New York Times reports that a coal shortage in China has the government rationing electricity for millions.
In the news today…
- The Durango Herald reports a lawsuit was filed Tuesday by conservation groups calling for GCC Energy’s King II coal mine to comply with a stricter water protection rule, a move the groups say will lead to the closure of the mine in western La Plata County.
- Casper Star Tribune reports an economist says Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s Association proposal to retire a Wyoming coal plant by 2033 is “disconcerting” for the state’s coal industry.
- Axios and Politico Pro report global coal demand is slated to rise by 2.6% next year after 2020’s steep pandemic-fueled decline, the International Energy Agency said in a report Friday.
- Forbes reports an energy consultant says the omission of carbon capture from a California climate report highlights the uncertainty of the technology.
- Politico Pro reports Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian company trying to develop the Pebble copper and gold mine in Alaska, on Thursday said it will appeal the Trump administration’s Nov. 25 denial of necessary permits.
- E&E News PM reports a federal judge denied a bid by Blackjewel LLC’s former chief executive today to convert the coal mining company’s bankruptcy case to a liquidation.
- Argus reports US coal producer Ramaco Carbon’s Brook mine avoided another road block to its future operation, after Wyoming regulators dismissed an appeal by environmental groups challenging the mine’s permit.
- E&E Daily reports news of Michael Regan’s forthcoming nomination to be President-elect Joe Biden’s EPA chief was mostly welcomed by Democrats and liberal activists, though some had misgivings.
In the news today…
- Fox News cites a report from junkscience.com saying that dire climate predictions have failed to materialize. For example, Glacier National Park has removed warnings that its glaciers will disappear by 2020. Other reports relayed failed predictions such as “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past” (The Independent in 2000), “Snows of Kilimanjaro to Vanish by 2020” (The Vancouver Sun in 2008), and “Arctic summers may be ice free by 2020” (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in 2013).
- Inside EPA reports future fossil fuel production planned by the United States and other countries is more than double the limit needed to restrict global warming 1.5°C or 2°C to prevent damaging climate change from occurring, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other climate policy organizations.
- E&E Daily reports Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yesterday suggested the Senate vote on the Paris climate agreement after President-elect Joe Biden rejoins next year.
- Politico Pro reports two appellate judges on Wednesday appeared skeptical of a lower court’s order for the Missouri utility Ameren to install pollution controls at one power plant to offset illegal emissions from another.
- E&E News PM reports on a timetable that will punt a final decision to the Biden administration, EPA is belatedly moving to address a call from ozone-plagued Northeastern states for tighter controls on Pennsylvania’s coal-fired power industry.
- Argus reports renewable electricity generation continued to advance in the US this quarter, supplanting some coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
- Twin Falls Times News reports Wyoming continues to value coal, despite the movement of other states away from the fuel.
- Argus reports about $2bn in tax credits will soon be available for advanced coal-fired generation projects in the US, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said this week.
- E&E Energywire reports speeding up the retirement of coal-fired power plants in West Virginia and replacing that power with renewable energy could reduce electric utility costs in the Mountain State by up to 5%, according to a new report from West Virginia University College of Law.
- Japan Times reports that China will expand its coal power fleet 10% by 2025. Consumption of coal currently accounts for nearly 58% of China’s energy mix.
- Inside EPA reports environmental economists are outlining several concerns with the Trump administration’s economic analysis to support its narrowed definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS), criticisms that they hope will aid the incoming Biden administration in “correcting” the rule and other Trump policies that used similar analyses.
- E&E Greenwire reports Democrats in both chambers of Congress are urging a district court to hear a case challenging the Trump administration’s controversial rule determining which waters are afforded protections under the Clean Water Act.