March 28, 2015
by WADE QUEEN
The future of coal in the United States is “increasingly bleak” according to a note to investors by Macquarie Research.
The firm is predicting a “wave of bankruptcies” in coal companies nationwide.
Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett pointed out Kentucky coal continues to fetch low market prices and faces stiff competition from natural gas.
He also blames the Obama administration for new regulations designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“As the president seems to be able to not only prevent us from building new coal plants but also suggest closing existing coal plants, that affects the market for steam producing coal,” he said.
Bissett remarked however that the good news is Kentucky coal has held steady for the past year or so, producing about 80 million tons annually and employing about 12 thousand people.
Bissett stated several factors could change the market quickly, but in the long term he said electricity demand should help coal rebound at least somewhat in Eastern Kentucky.
Bipartisan group in U.S. Senate passes Sen. Mitch McConnell’s amendment to fight “War on Coal”
On Thursday, the United States Senate approved a bipartisan amendment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fight the so-called “War on Coal”.
The Senate vote tally was (57-43).
It will prohibit the withholding of federal highway funds from states that do not submit a plan to implement a proposed new EPA regulation.
Under the proposed EPA regulation, states are required to submit state implementation plans to reconstruct electricity systems.
Due to the drastic changes required by EPA and because of concerns regarding EPA’s legal authority to enforce this plan, many states have filed suit against the agency to block these regulations. These states, including Kentucky, believe that complying with EPA regulations will wreak havoc on their states’ labor forces and economies. In addition to Kentucky, the states include: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the Senate floor before the amenment, “Washington Bureaucrats shouldn’t be able to punish innocent Americans by threatening roads and bridges they use, just because a citizen or state will take a wait and see approach, as courts rule on massive EPA regulations. These are regulations that will affect the middle class, but will not have a meaningful impact on the global climate anyway”.
After the amendment vote, McConnell thanked his fellowe senators who supported him, while remarking about the multi-state lawsuits.
“Many states, including my home state of Kentucky, have already filed suit against the proposal on the premise that it is not constitutional, and belief that the agency does not have the legal authority to require states to comply with all of its criteria,” Senator McConnell said. “I appreciate my colleagues for supporting my measure and expressing the belief that highway funds should not be held hostage in the War on Coal. Governors should not fear losing their critical highway funding nor should they be forced to submit plans that would devastate their own economy.”
Last week, McConnell called on governors to reject the EPA’s proposed regulation that requires states to change their electricity systems based on what the EPA thinks.
In a letter to all 50 Governors, Senator McConnell wrote that he has “serious legal and policy concerns regarding the proposal.”
The full text of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s letter is here.