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Lights Out: War On Coal Continues Unabated
By Stephen Kruiser on July 23, 2012
Let us remember that this was the plan all along. And it's working.
Patriot Coal Company filed for bankruptcy on July 9, 2012 as coal prices have plummeted from reduced demand resulting from low natural gas prices and new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (emphasis mine)
This is probably just the beginning.
Patriot Coal is the first U.S. coal company to file for bankruptcy in many, many years as its shares fell 72 percent to 61 cents. Its shares had traded as high as $24.99 last July. Patriot Coal was spun off from Peabody Energy Corp in 2007. It has 12 active mining complexes in Appalachia and the Illinois Basin with about 1.9 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves.[ia]
Shares of other coal companies (Alpha Natural Resources Inc, Arch Coal Inc and Peabody Energy Corp) also fell between 6 and 7 percent each. According to Alpha Natural Resources Inc., it will stop mining at four Kentucky sites and idle two coal preparation plants because of the slowdown in the coal market with about 150 of its workers losing their jobs.
The runaway EPA is determined to choke an entire industry and is being abetted by some members of Congress whose constituents will be hardest hit.
Insidiously, President Obama is still touting "investments" the green energy boondoggle despite the fact that said investments have been spectacular failures. (To be fair, sales of the ridiculously subsidized Chevy Volt are now "surging". Of course, it's not difficult for sales to surge against a benchmark that was practically rock bottom.)
The tolls of this ideological and impractical assault on coal are many. There are direct impacts on jobs in an economy that desperately needs them.
The study estimates Kentucky will lose more than 12,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in industry revenue. That’s the ninth-most harm to a state’s economy in the nation as a result of the EPA’s onslaught.
The Bluegrass State is not alone in suffering the wrath of Washington’s do-gooders. ALEC reports that five of the commonwealth’s seven neighboring states would be among the 10 most negatively impacted by the “EPA regulatory train wreck,” including Illinois, West Virginia and Ohio – whose economies would be the first, second and third-most harmed, respectively.
President Obama's "saved or created" jobs mantra is quite a different thing when "and also obliterated" is added into the mix.
After the direct impacts, there are collateral damages felt by consumers from the costs that are passed along to us.
The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.
Why the massive price increases? Andy Ott from PJM stated the obvious: “Capacity prices were higher than last year's because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015.” Northern Ohio is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, hence the even higher price.
The targets in this war on coal are not going quietly, however. Many of them went to Washington this week to speak out against the crushing moves by the EPA before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
This administration has a fondness for putting a human face on policies it favors in an effort to pluck emotional heart strings all the while turning a callous, blind eye to the faces that are hurt by other policies. Sadly, there are thousands upon thousands of very real people who are having their worlds turned upside down by a largely unchecked regulatory agency and a president who puts ideology before all reality when it comes to energy policy.
Donna Kessinger, a Southwest Virginia mother and certified electrician and mechanic at Cliffs Natural Resources’ Pinnacle Mine, was one of the many who testified before the committee. During the hearing, Kessinger said regulations currently being faced by the coal industry are putting jobs and families like hers at risk.
“Our jobs allow us to put food on the table, buy clothes for our children, and provide our families with good health care so we can lead productive lives,” Kessinger said to the panel. “Coal mining makes this possible. My industry is under attack, and that means my job is under attack. My livelihood and the well being of my family is at stake. I’m proud to be a coal miner. This is an honorable profession that should be respected.”