CA-Black-Transp

The Blow was Severe, but the Bleeding may have Stopped

Seeing the coal industry lose market share to new found, inexpensive natural gas last year was tough. Bracing for another four years of over regulation by the federal government was one thing, but to see long-time customers switch fuels crushed what little enthusiasm remained. Then, when coal and gas consumption reached parity in late April, reality hit home. During that period of market uncertainty leaders emerged with words of encouragement. Executives at the National Mining Association (NMA) cautioned utilities against putting too many eggs in one basket. Executives from Peabody Energy and Alliance Resources projected a return to coal and it looks like those forecasts are starting to materialize.

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President Obama Appoints New Leaders

Leadership for three federal posts that hold considerable sway over the U.S. coal industry have either taken office or will likely do so soon. Sally Jewell took office as the new secretary for the interior, replacing Ken Salazar. President Obama also chose Gina McCarthy to succeed the coal industry’s beloved Lisa Jackson to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ernest Moniz, an MIT physicist, glided through a Senate confirmation hearing, according to the National Mining Association, all but assuring his confirmation as secretary of energy, succeeding Steven Chu. Who are these people and what does it mean for the coal business?

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Unsustainable Legacy Costs

Retirees from Patriot Coal Co., who are represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), are rallying against coal companies in St. Louis. Who couldn’t see this one coming five or six years ago when Peabody Energy decided to spin off Patriot Coal? A bankruptcy judge in St. Louis is now faced with making a very complex decision that could have widespread ramifications, not only for the UMWA, but for organized labor.

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Looking Ahead to 2013, We Will Strive to Do Better

To edit a trade journal, one has to be a bit of a perfectionist and, if you are going to express an opinion, it helps to have thick skin. Similar to a carpenter that builds his own house, I can see every mistake in each edition. It’s frustrating, but it happens. I usually offer apologies in the form of direct email correspondence, but last month’s mistake was so egregious, I felt the need to apologize to the mine operator and Coal Age readers.

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Labor Leaders Appeal to Obama

During late November, union leaders sent a letter to President Obama congratulating him on his win and asking him to treat coal fairly. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to issue a final New Source Performance Standard for Greenhouse Gas Emissions during December. If enacted without any changes, they reminded the president that all new base-load power plants would be forced to abandon coal in favor of natural gas.

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