November 2009   —   Issue # 2009-06

Mining Metrics
 

Poll Watch

More Doubts on
Global Warming

According to a new Washington Post – ABC News poll, the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening declined 8 percent in the last year.

Source: Washington Post – ABC News, Nov. 25, 2009.

Consumer Confidence
Survey Hints at
“W-Shaped” Recovery

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions worsened in October. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 47.1 percent from 46.3 percent, while those claiming conditions are “good” decreased. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also bleaker. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 49.6 percent from 47.0 percent.

Source: The Conference Board, Nov. 24, 2009.

Millions of Jobs would be Exported

National Mining Association President and CEO, Hal Quinn, contributed to a recent forum on National Journal’s “Energy and Environment” experts blog:

We do not believe that the public interest is well served by policies that approach our energy future as a zero-sum game.

Public policies encouraging the replacement of coal based electricity generation with natural gas are the bridge for accelerating the export of our manufacturing base and, with it, millions of high-wage jobs.

Look no further than actual experience over the past decade. As the use of natural gas increased for generating electricity, our manufacturing sector paid substantially higher prices for electricity (56 percent) and natural gas (200 percent).

In a report released last year, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) warned that “policies that encourage the use of natural gas to substitute for coal in power generation could very well lead to spectacular price increases for households and industry.”

The shale gas play may be a game changer for the natural gas industry, but we should eschew policies that make it a job ender for everyone else.

signature graphic

Hal Quinn
President and CEO
National Mining Association

Hal Quinn’s full blog post is available at: National Journal.

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Washington Watch

Senate Democrats Balk at Boxer-Kerry Allowance Allocations

Fourteen Democratic senators from states that rely on coal-generated electricity alerted Senate leaders this month that the present formula in pending climate change legislation for allocating carbon credits to electric utilities based partly on retail power sales discriminates against coal-based utilities and is unacceptable.

The allocation formula for distributing free carbon allowances to utility companies in the Kerry-Boxer climate bill would give away half of the credits set aside for utilities based on retail sales of electricity and the other half based on past carbon emissions.

In a Nov. 12 letter to Democratic Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Max Baucus (Mont.), the 14 senators said such an allocation fails to fully recognize the sources “that really need” allowances to mitigate the cost of reducing emissions. The senators said all allowances distributed to utilities should be based solely on actual emissions “as the appropriate and equitable way to provide transition assistance,” and none based on sales volume.

The letter comes amid increasing angst by moderate Senate Democrats who do not believe the Senate is in a position to hold a vote on climate change legislation.

“I’ve got people in West Virginia who are more scared than any time in the 45 years that I’ve been here,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told Congress Daily this month.

Rockefeller believes the Senate will not be able to vote on a cap-and-trade climate bill until July of next year.

“Most of the country doesn’t know what cap-and-trade is. They have no idea. I would say half the Senate have no idea what cap-and-trade is and could not explain it,” Rockefeller told The Hill newspaper on Nov. 17.

“You have to get this stuff out to the American people before you change their lives, and we are not paying any attention to that,” Rockefeller told The Hill.

Joining Rockefeller in expressing alarm over a Senate cap-and-trade bill this month was Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who told the Politico newspaper he has “some real questions about the real complexities on cap and trade.”

A copy of the Nov. 12 letter is available at: Democratic Senators’ letter.

Newsworthy

West Virginia Officials Unite to Protect Coal

United we stand, divided we fall was the message emanating out of West Virginia this month, as local, state and federal politicians joined with coal company officials to dedicate themselves to protecting coal’s future.

“Members of West Virginia’s business and political elite announced [November 10th] they are on the same page about mining coal: The state needs it, the country needs it and they’re going to fight for it,” the Charleston Daily Mail wrote on Nov. 11.

Three of the state’s five members of Congress, along with Gov. Joe Manchin (D), state lawmakers, several state agency directors, a handful of county commissioners and more than a dozen coal industry officials met at the Governor’s Mansion to unify against the continuing onslaught of measures from Washington, D.C., designed to wipe out coal mining in West Virginia.

“Whether you be Republican or Democrat, we are all united in this fight,” Gov. Manchin said following the meeting.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) said the group is committed to getting a meeting with high-level White House officials to get some “good, hard information” about exactly what new environmental constraints EPA wants to place on mining in the state.

One issue that continues to wreak havoc in the Appalachian coal fields is the Environmental Protection Agency’s on-going blockade on coal mining permits.

Paul H. Vining, the chief operating officer of Patriot Coal, warned following the meeting that EPA’s refusal to end their quasi-legal moratorium is going to have a “huge impact” on everyone in West Virginia.

Driving home Vining’s point is a new study released by West Virginia University (WVU) that warns of massive new job losses for the state, many due to the EPA moratorium. The report predicted that southern West Virginia in particular would be hit hard as a result of EPA’s permit dithering.

Charleston Daily Mail story is available at: Charleston Daily Mail.

West Virginia University study is available at: West Virginia University study.

Controversy over “Packaging” of Climate Science

In a recent article, the New York Times reported that documents hacked from a British university’s server are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who believe the documents indicate that climate scientists have overstated the case for human influence on climate change.

New York Times article is available at: New York Times.

IEA Annual Report Foresees Strong Coal Demand

Global energy demand will increase by 45 percent by 2030, with demand for coal again outstripping growth in all other fuels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted in its latest annual World Energy Outlook. IEA projects coal will account for more than a third of the predicted increase in global energy demand.

IEA expects higher fossil-fuel prices and energy security concerns will boost the share of renewable fuels for power generation by 2030 to 22 percent from 18 percent in 2007. Coal will also increase its share of this market by 2 percent to 44 percent in 2030.

Finally, IEA leaves little doubt about the importance of the growth in power generation for human welfare, estimating that by 2030 as many as 1.4 billion people will still not have access to electricity.

The International Energy Agency report is available at: World Energy Outlook.

New DOL Data Document Mining Industry Safety Improvement

New workplace injury information released this month by the Department of Labor found that the mining industry’s non-fatal injury rate dropped 5 percent in 2008 based on survey data collected by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The industry’s non-fatal injury rate for 2008 stood at 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers, down from the 2007 rate of 3.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. The injury rate for coal mining was 4.4, metal mining was 3.1, and non-metallic mineral mining was 3.0.

The Department of Labor press release is available at: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Smart Science

Worldwide Carbon Capture and Storage Projects on the Increase

Worldwide efforts to fund and establish carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have accelerated, according to a new Department of Energy (DOE) online database.

The database, a project of DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), shows 192 proposed and active CCS projects worldwide. The projects are located in 20 countries across five continents. The 192 projects globally include 38 capture, 46 storage, and 108 for capture and storage.

Of the projects detailed in the NETL database, eight are actively capturing and injecting carbon dioxide (CO2).

CCS is a group of technologies for capturing and compressing the CO2 emitted by power plants or industrial sites; transporting it; and injecting it into suitable permanent storage sites, such as deep underground formations.

CCS technologies are increasingly recognized by scientists and nations worldwide as an effective way to ensure consumers and businesses can continue to rely on coal as a source for affordable energy, while helping achieve important environmental improvement goals.

More information on the DOE’s database is available at: DOE Database.

From the Heartland

Mining Companies Honored for Safety, Environmental Excellence

The U.S. Departments of the Interior and Labor, in conjunction with the National Mining Association (NMA), recently recognized 30 U.S. coal and mineral mines for their outstanding safety and environmental achievements in 2008.

The Department of Labor’s Sentinels of Safety Awards, given annually to the nation’s safest mines, those with a minimum of 4,000 injury-free hours, this year went to six coal mines and 14 mineral mines chosen from 10 different categories.

Safety is a core value of the mining community, as demonstrated by 2008 being the safest year in the history of American mining. For all U.S. mining, including coal, minerals and metals, federal data shows that, since 2002, the rate of fatal injuries has declined by 13 percent and the rate of non-fatal injuries has declined by 26 percent.

The Department of the Interior honored 10 American coal and mineral mines for their outstanding contributions to the environment, mine reclamation and community outreach. The awards were presented by officials from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement in ceremonies hosted by NMA.

This year’s winners featured reclamation projects that used innovative and best practices for controlling erosion and sedimentation and enhancing wildlife habitat on former coal mine sites.

One award winner reclaimed almost 65,000 acres of former mine land for forest and pastureland use.

More information on the safety awards is available at: Safety Awards.

More information on the environmental awards is available at: Environmental Awards.

Massey Energy Partners with Boy Scouts of America

Massey Energy this month announced it will partner with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to help construct the new National Center for Scouting Excellence to be located in Fayette and Raleigh counties in West Virginia. The new facility will offer outdoor adventure, leadership and environmental stewardship training.

“The Boy Scouts of America will always have a home in West Virginia,” said Massey Chairman and CEO Don L. Blankenship. “We are pleased to contribute to the economic development of southern West Virginia and the personal development of thousands of scouts from across the nation.”

“This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Boy Scouts of America and West Virginia. We are so pleased to have partnered with Massey Energy to turn the vision into a reality,” said Jack Furst, BSA executive board member and volunteer project lead.

Massey Energy worked with the Boy Scouts of America to transfer mineral and surface property rights to the land that was acquired for the new Scouting site. Additionally, Massey Energy pledged a $500,000 contribution to support construction of the project. Both were integral to moving the project forward.

The facility will include a national high-adventure base, permanent home for the BSA national Scout jamboree and expanded opportunities for character and leadership development. Once fully developed, the facility will serve tens of thousands of youths every year, making it one of the largest Scouting facilities in the eastern United States. It is estimated the $100 million project will employ approximately 80 full-time and 1,200 seasonal staffers.