Tags: Coal

Straight talk on coal


Today’s Wall Street Journal has a little Q&A with Greg Boyce, CEO of Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest (by output) coal company. Here’s a portion of the interview:

WSJ: Can you improve the image of coal?

Mr. Boyce: Explain to everyone how much electricity today depends on coal. I mentioned to folks here in the U.S. that we still get 42% of our electricity on coal. And they say, “Wait a minute. I thought we stopped using coal.”

WSJ: What do you say to people who say coal is dirty?

Mr. Boyce: Since 1970, coal use has increased almost 200%, yet the emissions from coal have been reduced by almost 90%. Technology has reduced what used to be the standard emissions for coal—sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury and particulates—so the next wave of technology is what do we do to try to decarbonize and try to reduce the CO2 from coal.

WSJ: But what if Americans are willing to pay more for clean energy?

Mr. Boyce: We have 115 million U.S. citizens that qualify for some kind of low-income energy assistance. We already have a third of the population that can’t afford their utility bills. If there are people who want to use boutique and high-priced energy and can afford it, that’s great. But many people can’t even afford what we already have.

WSJ: Does the Obama administration really have a “war on coal,” as many in the coal industry allege?

Mr. Boyce: They just don’t like fossil fuels. But there are no replacements for fossil fuels at scale, at affordability. [The Environmental Protection Agency said there was no war on any fossil fuel. "We see coal continuing to be a third of our energy mix after these rules are implemented," a spokeswoman said.]

WSJ: The EPA has proposed rules to curb climate change by drastically cutting power-plant CO2 emissions. How will that affect you?

Mr. Boyce: It’s too early to tell. All I know is just about everybody doesn’t like them.Many states have already passed some kind of resolution or law saying, “Hey these aren’t going to work for us.” About 80% of U.S. businesses are saying this doesn’t make sense. The devastation in terms of electricity rates will not be tolerable.

Tags: Coal , EPA , Obama Administration

From Aluminum Trucks to Eliminating Coal: The Economic Costs of Obama’s CO2 Edicts


Why is the U.S. economic recovery struggling? Consider major stories from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times this Wednesday alone.

“General Motors is accelerating efforts to field a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards,” reports the Journal.

Under the Obama administration’s unilateral edict that cars and trucks must average 54.5 mpg by 2025, GM will spend billions converting its Chevy and GMC pickups to aluminum bodies — as Ford has done before it with this year’s F150 pickup — in order to save weight and meet the federal standards. Not customer demands, mind you (fuel efficiency is well down the list of truck-buyer priorities). Government demands. Though industry insiders will not confirm an exact number,  replacing steel with  aluminum will add over a thousand dollars in variable costs (costs above standard materials needs) to each pickup, the best-selling vehicles in America.

To put that in context, the Chevy Volt’s plug-in electric/gas drive train adds about $8,000 in variable costs above the standard, gas-engine Chevy Cruze (the model upon which the Volt is based). Manufacturers are all developing money-losing electrics in order to help their fleets meet the 54.5-by-2025 mandate.

Story #2: “President Obama on Tuesday ordered the development of tough new fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty trucks as part of what aides say will be an increasingly muscular and unilateral campaign to tackle climate change,” reports the New York Times.

“Shock and awe may be the best way to describe what’s happening to the vast majority in trucking with these proposed regulations,” said Todd Spencer, executive VP of the the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a statement lamenting regulations that the EPA estimates will cost nearly $6,000 a truck. With 97 percent of trucking companies owning 20 trucks or fewer, Obama’s CO2 obsession will do serious harm to small business.

And for what?

“Experts said (the White House’s cumulative global warming edicts) should enable Mr. Obama to meet his target of cutting carbon pollution in the United States by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But they said he would still be far short of his goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050,” says the Times.

Yet climate scientists say that 80 percent-by-2050 would be meaningless. Such economy-crippling regulations of 20 percent CO2 reduction per decade for the next four decades – three times the CO2 reduction caused by the Great Recession’s economic slowdown – would only reduce the predicted rise in temperatures by 7 percent.

All pain, no gain. Now add to these restrictions Obama’s diktat to eliminate coal plants and thousands more jobs; raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at a cost of half-a-million jobs by 2016; and Obamacare’s health costs — the number one concern of small business.

In sum, President Obama’s regulations are suffocating American job creation.

Tags: Coal , GM , trucks

Does McAuliffe Even Understand the EPA’s New Rules for Coal Plants?



Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he supports new Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions, taking a clear stance for the first time on an issue that has become a key flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race.

The EPA unveiled guidelines two weeks ago that would limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired plants can emit into the atmosphere, likely making it difficult for any new coal-powered plants to be built. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has said the rules would be devastating to Virginia’s coal industry, and has accused McAuliffe (D) of being an accomplice to the Obama administration’s alleged “war on coal.”

Lachlan Markay put together this map of where the country’s major coal mines are, and where the EPA’s “listening sessions” about the rules new were held:

As you’ll notice, the sites of the mines and the “listening sessions” weren’t near each other. If you wanted to ensure that no one who actually works in mining weighed in at these “listening sessions,” this is pretty much how you would do it.

The only listening session near Virginia occurred in Washington, D.C.; the Buchanan Number One mine, in Buchanan County, Virginia, is a 400-mile drive away from the nation’s capital. That mine has been in operation for 30 years, employs 627 people, and produces 4.5 million tons of coal per year.

In McAuliffe’s defense, there’s always the possibility that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, and is just winging it again:

Asked about the issue again Tuesday during a tour of the Tyson’s Corner technology firm MicroTech, McAuliffe initially avoided a clear position again, saying: “I think we have to look at when the permits [for new coal plants] come in and look at how it applies and what the regulations are.”

When a reporter pressed McAuliffe on whether he supports the guidelines “as they are written right now,” McAuliffe responded: “I do, you bet. What I’ve looked at, I support what we need to do to obviously protect our air and our water.”

“I think we have to look at it” isn’t, technically, a position.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , EPA , Coal

‘As Governor, I never want another coal plant built!’


Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli will attend the Virginia Energy & Opportunity Forum Thursday — not quite a debate, but we can safely expect the two gubernatorial candidates to take shots at each other.

The Republican party of Virginia is putting the spotlight on McAuliffe’s once staunchly left view on energy production, particularly coal. McAuliffe has shifted to the center . . . and environmentalists don’t really care, apparently:

The same can’t always be said for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, the former political fundraiser for Bill Clinton and the ex-chair of Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe is benefiting from green group spending against Cuccinelli, and has made campaign appearances with scientist Mann. But he’s also flip-flopped from his former positions on energy, and has been noncommittal about President Obama’s sweeping new climate plan. In an unsuccessful 2009 bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, McAuliffe said he opposed drilling for oil off Virginia’s coast, and said that as governor, “he never want[ed] another coal plant built.” This year, running in the general election, he’s effectively reversed both of those positions, endorsing offshore oil drilling and new coal production — while taking campaign contributions from a Virginia coal company. The website Politifact rated McAuliffe’s turnarounds on both coal and offshore drilling “a full Flop.”

It’s not that environmentalists see McAuliffe as a green crusader. McAuliffe — a self-described “hustler” — made his name as a political operative rather than a champion of policy. Instead, they’re focused on ensuring that Cuccinelli, whom they see as an influential threat to efforts to combat climate change, doesn’t take the governorship.

Expect to see more of this video of a 2009 Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, where McAuliffe declared, “I want to move past coal. As Governor, I never want another coal plant built.”

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Coal

Professor of the Moral Foundations of Law



With the death of Judge Robert Bork, we have lost one of the most distinguished and significant figures in American legal history. Most of us in the legal profession hope to make some small contribution to some area of the law. Judge Bork made profound and seminal contributions in our understanding of two important areas of the law – Constitutional Law and its proper philosophical underpinnings, and anti-trust law. He deservedly is called the Father of Originalism. His influence was so profound that even Ronald Dworkin, once a colleague of Judge Bork’s at Yale Law School, has been heard to say that we now are all “Originalists.” I’m sure Dworkin didn’t mean that in the proper sense, but I think it’s a measure of Judge Bork’s influence that the subject was even addressed that way.

One of the great joys in my life was getting to know Judge Bork and call him a friend. He was the first faculty member announced at the formation of Ave Maria School of Law. His agreeing to join our faculty was one of the most significant things we did. He gave us instant credibility as a serious institution and attracted for us outstanding law students. We developed a special course for him called Moral Foundations of Law, required of all first year law students. Although he and I team-taught it, I was as much a student as the first year students. I will sorely miss him not only for his contribution to the law and the understanding of our culture, but also for his kindness, good humor, and ability to handle adversity with grace and dignity.

Bernard Dobranski is dean emeritus and professor at Ave Maria School of Law.

Tags: Coal

Romney’s New TV Ads Aim to Win Over Coal Country


This morning, the Romney campaign is airing two new television ads hitting the Obama administration on regulations that have hurt — some say crippled — the coal industry. Expect to see them on the airwaves in Ohio and Virginia.

The first is entitled “Way of Life.”

The second is entitled simply “War on Coal.”

The Obama administration’s view was never so succinctly put as it was by Biden at a 2008 rally, “No coal plants here in America.” Or perhaps it was when Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, “If somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”


After giving then-Sen. Barack Obama a full-throttled endorsement in the 2008 presidential election, the United Mine Workers of America has decided not to endorse either Obama or the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in 2012.

Also note:

The Obama campaign, after strong criticism from coal-industry folks and Democrats in coal country, has quietly fixed its ‘all of the above’ energy policy Web site. The original version included seven pillars of the policy but made no mention of coal — which, after all, generates nearly half the nation’s energy supply.

Earlier this year, EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding spoke at Yale University and declared:

[EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson has put forth a very powerful message to the country. Just two days ago, the decision on greenhouse gas performance standard and saying basically gas plants are the performance standard which means if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision. You can’t imagine how tough that was. Because you got to remember if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can’t do that. But she had to do what the law and policy suggested. And it’s painful. It’s painful every step of the way.

Then of course, there was the EPA official who described his job and philosophy of enforcement as “crucifying” them:

Kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Tags: Barack Obama , Coal , EPA , Mitt Romney

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