Politico: Coal Down, But Not Out in GAO Report

Aaron Flint posted on November 29, 2012 15:49 :: 671 Views

From Politico’s Playbook:

COAL DOWN BUT NOT OUT, GAO SAYS: Coal’s share of the U.S. electricity generation pie will likely continue to shrink – but it will probably remain a key power source going forward, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report. “Available information suggests that the future U.S. use of coal may be determined by several key factors, including the price of natural gas and environmental regulations,” the report notes: http://1.usa.gov/X1BLlk

Plus, I spoke with Don Gimbel, who manages over $1.5 billion in assets from his Paradise Valley, MT home office, about a potential slowdown in commodity markets.  In the first part we discuss what this could mean for ag prices here in Montana.  After that we dive into metals.  Click below to listen:

Click to Listen

Montana Media Trackers: Coal Export Action Looking to Take “Big Coal” To Court

Coal Export Action (CEA), an environmental activist group which opposes the development of the Otter Creek mine, is attempting to use the prosecution of twenty-three protesters as a way to take “Big Coal” to court.

The CEA protesters are facing prosecution for criminal trespassing for refusing to leave the state capitol after-hours during a sit-in protest against the State Land Board’s 3-2 decision to lease Otter Creek to Arch Coal Company.

CEA passed out fliers and spoke at a Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) event held in Bozeman last week in an effort to promote the trial.

ICYMI- here’s a few more recent news stories concerning coal production in Montana and the US.

AP: Montana Coal Mine’s Future Uncertain

The Decker Coal Mine near the Wyoming border was once among the largest surface mines in the U.S., producing more than 10 million tons of the fuel annually. But with production volumes down to less than a third of that amount, mine managers have announced up to 75 workers will lose their jobs in mid-January.

Mine representatives have declined to say how long Decker will stay operational. Court documents reviewed by The Associated Press suggest mining could end as soon as the end of 2013.

A Missoula Independent Spread calls the war on coal an “Imaginary War.”  If it’s so imaginary, and regulations aren’t pushing coal out of business, then  why do you need the regulations?  Call their bluff.  If the market is doing it all by it’s lonesome then why do you need to protect us from something that is naturally disappearing?  This is the type of spin that doesn’t just get played in the alternative weeklies.

From the piece by a columnist for the liberal High Country News:

This year, domestic coal production is expected to be down about 10 percent from the banner year of 2007, and Murray and other industry leaders blame the retirement of old coal plants resulting from Obama-era regulations. But they’re going after the wrong enemy. It’s not regulations that are hurting coal so much as the market’s vagaries and the abundance of cheap natural gas from the drilling boom that began a decade ago.

What about wind power?  Lack of transmission lines, and cheap natural gas to blame in South Dakota, as the Dakota War College blog notes:

After the EPA led witchhunt into the Big Stone II power expansion in South Dakota which would have provided extensive transmission capabilities for wind to piggyback onto, several years later, the wind industry is still bottle-necked by transmission problems.

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