This is very good news.
As Coal Popularity Wanes, Mining Leases Go Unsold
By Tom Valtin
In Cheyenne, Wyo., last week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a lease sale in for mining rights to a tract in the state's Powder River Basin — 149 million tons of publicly-owned coal. The sale failed to attract a single bid.
In June, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Inspector General released a report identifying numerous flaws in BLM's coal-leasing program. Among them, the report confirmed that over the last 20 years, 80 percent of lease sales in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming attracted only one bidder, and none attracted more than two.
With the price of coal mired in a four-year slump with no end in sight, it increasingly makes no economic sense for coal companies to extract the resource and bring it to market. At the same time, Americans are demanding action on coal pollution, and clean energy is cheaper in most places in this country
"The BLM can't give this stuff away," said Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, in reaction to the failure of the Maysdorf II coal tract to attract any bidders. "This is the beginning of the end of coal — it's officially worthless. This is what happens when community after community replaces their aging coal plants with clean energy. "In fact this tract up for lease was created for a special request by one of the big coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin, Cloud Peak Energy.
A Wyoming first: No bids for coal mining tract in Powder River BasinAdding to the financial uncertainties surrounding the deal is the probability that Big Coal's sweet deal on federal royalties will probably be coming to an end.
By LAURA HANCOCK
Minutes later, Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy Inc., which owns the mine that had first asked the federal government to lease the coal tract nearly seven years ago, released a statement saying mining the coal wasn’t economical. The tract is near Cloud Peak’s Cordero Rojo mine.
The Maysdorf II North Coal Tract is slightly larger than two square miles and contains 148.6 million tons of mineable coal. The tract is also near the Belle Ayr Mine, owned by Alpha Natural Resources of Bristol, Va., which also didn’t bid.
DOI INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT CONFIRMS UNFAIR FEDERAL COAL LEASING PRACTICESOf course this will also effect the proposed mega export terminal projects proposed for my state of Washington. Together the two proposed terminals would have the combined export capacity of 90 million tons of coal a year.
By Krista Collard
Today’s Inspector General report faults BLM for failing to take into account potential profits for coal export and for failing to follow an Interior Secretary Order intended to ensure unbiased evaluations of the fair market value for federal coal.
Demand cools as fight rages over coal-export terminals
By Hal Bernton and Brian M. Rosenthal
Back in 2011, when SSA Marine laid out plans for a major coal-export terminal in Northwest Washington, international markets were on a tear as the demand for coal pushed prices to record levels.
But this summer, export prices have plunged by more than 40 percent, prompting some coal-export projects in Australia to be scaled back or scuttled.
Some financial analysts suggest coal-export markets face a prolonged downturn that reflects fundamental changes in the markets.
Goldman Sachs, in a research report released earlier this summer, declared that “the window for profitable investment in coal mining (for export) is closing.”
“Coal demand in China is about to start falling, and ... the global thermal coal market will never recover,” declared a recent report by Bernstein Research, which provides analysis for investors.
The report predicts China would stop importing coal in 2015 and begin decommissioning coal plants and replacing them with nuclear and renewable-energy plants during the second half of this decade.
Which brings us to this news from China.
Beijing Will Cut Coal Burning and Barbecues in Bid to Fight SmogHaving visited Beijing this winter I got to witness the Chinese Capital's pollution problems first hand.
The Chinese capital will limit cars, outdoor barbecues and coal burning under new measures to reduce air pollution that exceeded recommended World Health Organization levels by nearly 40 times in January.
Coal use for electricity consumption in Beijing will be reduced by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level, while limits will be put on outdoor barbecues in suburban areas and the number of cars will be kept below 6 million, the city government said in a statement today.
Another new report says that over a hundred millions of dollars will be needed to be invested in transportation infrastructure around Longview in Southwest Washington before the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal can become a viable project compatible with the community.
The elephant in the room on the Longview coal portOf course Millennium isn't volunteering to provide those funds. Where those millions would come from isn't clear.
By Floyd McKay
The fix — new bridge ramps that overpass a relocated rail line, renovated surface streets and a new railroad bridge — will cost anywhere from $150-$200 million, depending on who's doing the estimating. And that doesn't account for the prospect of 16 new coal trains a day. Everyone recognizes the SR 432 problem, but other than the outspoken Lindstrom few are willing to confront the elephant in the room: Big-time public investment will be needed if Longview goes for coal.
What we are witnessing is the twilight of the age of coal. And for the sake of the planet it couldn't come too soon.