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View Diary: The top two words of 2012 (73 comments)

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  •  The PRB is going to be pretty much it... (6+ / 0-)

    For US steam coal going forward. Illinois basin mines are closing left and right, though there are enough long term contracts to keep a fraction of those mines (particularly surface operations, where the margins are slightly better) cranking along for the next 5-10 years. Underground mines, even those that had previously been looked on a star performers, are in trouble, with production cranked back and expansions cancelled.  That's even more true for steam coal in the east.  

    In the PRB, there competition is pushing down prices and forcing marginal operations out in favor of the low-cost giants (Black Thunder and North Antelope - Rochelle). Even there, expansion plans have been parked.  

    The truth is, steam coal in the US is never coming back. Even if the price of natural gas moves up, the cost of wind energy has already started to impinge on the top end, and will be cheaper than coal generally in another decade. Expect the percentage of electrical production from coal to hover around 30% for five years or so, then slowly decline toward extinction.

    Look to what happens with west coast shipping facilities to define where coal goes from here. If they get built, PRB production will go up, with half the coal going west farther than east. If not, watch how quickly the big players encapsulate and sell off their US operations and move on to be purely overseas plays.

    •  Still time to file a statement against coal (2+ / 0-)
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      Agathena, RLMiller

      shipment through the so-called "Gateway Pacific Terminal." Join the 3000 some people who gathered in Seattle, and thousands more in the Pacific Northwest who, during the last several months, have been opposing the shipment from Wyoming, via rail lines paralleling the Columbia, and up through Washington via many small farmng communities (like the state capitol of blueberry production) to Tacoma and Seattle, on to Bellingham.

      This form asks for a factual statement, not simply an opinion. As it says, "Please submit your comments through January 21, 2013 to be included in the scoping summary report. You can also use the form to add your name to the project mailing list or send the Co-Lead Agencies a question."

      Personally I don't want to have 18 1.5 mile long trains loaded with coal travel in the railroad tunnels under the City of Seattle along with Amtrak trains, and then roll on north only a half block from my house. Or have that coal shipped through the San Juan Islands to China.

      Pro-coal people want to confine the study to just the port cities; the stop-coal people at the hearings acutely realized that this project would profoundly affect a far wider geography, including ranchland in Montana and Idaho, and lands belonging to Native Americans.

      So if you're an expert in water quality, fish, farming, ranching, chemistry, water-related tourism, or another pertinent specialty, please consider contributing to the effort to stop this massive and massively destructive project.

      It's basically the Pacific Northwest's equivalent of the XL Keystone pipeline and needs to be stopped.

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