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Energy Deception

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out its Clean Power Plan (CPP) during August. The details of and the opposition to the plan are covered in several articles in this edition, including the first two stories in the News section, the Dateline Washington column and the Marketwatch column. SNL Energy quickly compiled a report that accurately determined which states would win and lose under the plan. Spoiler alert: There are many more losers than winners.

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Carbon and the Climate Change Dogma

The late June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court revealed just how reckless the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become. In Michigan v. EPA, several states and industry groups, including the National Mining Association, challenged the EPA’s mercury rule for power plants, which would have essentially forced most of the coal-fired power plants to close as part of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan. A Supreme Court that made several landmark decisions — it bent over backward to support the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and it ruled in favor of gay marriage — acknowledged that the regulatory overreach by the Obama administration and the EPA was just too much. The ruling was a huge win for people and businesses that rely on inexpensive power from coal.

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The New Norm

Throughout the news section of this edition of Coal Age, readers will note a couple of positive stories among a volley of sad announcements that shook the coal business in early June. Four U.S. coal operators (Murray Energy, Peabody Energy, Alpha Natural Resources and Rhino Energy) announced that nearly 2,700 jobs would be eliminated. These choices are never easily made. With lives that range from 10 to 20 years, the decision to idle or close an operation is almost as difficult as justifying the investment to open a mine.

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Politician Cuts Funding for Miners Used as Props

Former Hillary Clinton campaign manager and current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was espousing her virtues on the Sunday, April 19th episode of “Meet the Press.” He and anchor Chuck Todd were discussing the launch of Hillary’s campaign. As the two bantered about political campaigns, McAuliffe reminisced about his own. “You get to travel and meet folks,” McAuliffe said. “I spent an hour in a coal mine, talking to coal miners. Your policies evolve, because you're talking to folks whose lives are impacted every single day. They have the answers. They are living in financial distress...” The fact that he had spent time at a coal mine struck a chord.

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EPA Faces Scrutiny

One of the clichés often heard in this business is that the only constant is change. As this edition of Coal Age goes to press, the coal industry sees one major producer acquiring another. U.S. coal operators continue to confront over reaching regulations and environmental activism. At the same time, they have to keep costs low to remain competitive.

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