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DOI Puts Coal Leases on Hold

In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama continued to show little respect for coal operators and those who produce inexpensive electricity from coal. He mocked them by saying that wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power (coal). Before trying to take credit for lower gasoline prices, which he has only influenced by a lack of foreign leadership, he said the solar business now “employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.” The latter is certainly true, as new laws from the Environmental Protection Agency have wiped out tens of thousands of really good-paying jobs.

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Lessons Learned?

The Don Blankenship trial and conviction (see Blankenship Found Guilty of Conspiracy, p. 56) captured a lot of attention in Appalachia. Since he rose to prominence in the early 1980s, Coal Age has followed Blankenship’s career. In those early days, he was an aspiring executive caught up in a highly polarized fight with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). With quick wit and a dry sense of humor, he voiced strong support for West Virginia and always seemed to be thinking a couple of moves ahead of the others. He led Massey Energy when the oil companies were exiting the coal business. He took the company public. As CEO, he fought boardroom battles with activist shareholders and publicly debated environmental activists. In most of these situations, he prevailed or at least fought to a draw; he rarely lost.

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She Said What?

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary R. Clinton called on Peabody Energy to “do the right thing” last month. Her statement was in reference to Peabody’s involvement with the Patriot bankruptcy and asset sale. St. Louis newspapers quoted Mrs. Clinton as saying, the retired miners — who “put their own health and safety at risk for years so the rest of us could have the affordable, reliable electricity we take for granted” — and their dependents don’t deserve having to risk losing their benefits. Peabody, for its part, simply said Mrs. Clinton was misinformed.

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Court Wisely Grants a Stay on WOTUS

During early October, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a nationwide stay on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule recently proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The proposed rule was an effort to clarify the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction to satisfy U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, which concluded that the agencies adopted an interpretation that unduly widened the scope of their authority. Many cases against the WOTUS rule are pending in courts around the country.

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Adding Insult to Injury

Last month, Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, penned a power editorial, “Scraps from the Table: Obama’s Plan an Insult to West Virginia’s Coal Mining Families.” Coal Age readers can find it at www.wvcoal.com. Raney has been a fierce advocate for coal and the Mountain State for many years. In the piece, he admonished the Charleston Gazette, which has long taken an anti-coal stance, for suggesting that the industry thank President Barack Obama for tossing a few dollars to the American coal industry after systematically destroying it for six years.

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