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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 Basin


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.

Adding 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 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.

Of 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.
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 Smog

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.

Having visited Beijing this winter I got to witness the Chinese Capital's pollution problems first hand.

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 port

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.

Of course Millennium isn't volunteering to provide those funds. Where those millions would come from isn't clear.

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.  

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, Good News, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Coal is better off left in the ground (136+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, hannah, Lawrence, jwinIL14, Dood Abides, k9disc, GrumpyOldGeek, skohayes, Russ Jarmusch, OldSoldier99, justintime, OleHippieChick, ChuckInReno, Wee Mama, Cheryl Weaver, CwV, ItsSimpleSimon, p gorden lippy, DisNoir36, cordgrass, Norm in Chicago, basquebob, TomP, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Tinfoil Hat, willyr, mnguitar, deha, PeterHug, Creosote, Odysseus, J M F, MartyM, itzadryheat, Mentatmark, erratic, HeyMikey, karmsy, jamess, greenbastard, FutureNow, Oh Mary Oh, i dunno, afisher, davespicer, zerelda, Sybil Liberty, I love OCD, Pat K California, figbash, LaFeminista, DawnN, Radical Moderate, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, Buckeye54, CupaJoe, RLMiller, Pariah Dog, Edge PA, Cedwyn, LeftCoastTom, Wary, No one gets out alive, James Wells, CA Nana, OLinda, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Gemina13, ume, DeminNewJ, Gowrie Gal, remembrance, cocinero, eeff, temptxan, Wreck Smurfy, unfangus, flowerfarmer, aznavy, MKinTN, greycat, kevinpdx, majcmb1, Statusquomustgo, annan, surfbird007, FishOutofWater, bleeding blue, Assaf, ferg, Cassandra Waites, emmasnacker, Drocedus, Joe Bob, cotterperson, Railfan, sow hat, Caddis Fly, LaughingPlanet, RandomNonviolence, BachFan, TokenLiberal, tle, maybeeso in michigan, pat bunny, eOz, ColoTim, Matt Z, pgm 01, Mr Robert, LookingUp, wu ming, kerflooey, asym, LakeSuperior, Betty Pinson, Sun Tzu, GAS, Milly Watt, anodnhajo, Just Bob, defluxion10, Possiamo, Glen The Plumber, poliwrangler, Egalitare, skybluewater, stlsophos, Nebraskablue, Rogneid, Larsstephens, cantelow, BlueMississippi, Mokurai, Celtic Merlin, Calamity Jean

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:25:44 AM PDT

    •  That seems to be the consensus! (25+ / 0-)

      Oil will be next, then natural gas.  Whale oil comes to mind- once a crucial and irreplaceable commodity.  

      When China gives up on coal because it's too dirty you know it's time is up.

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:59:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Then we need to buy it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annan, 6412093, wu ming, defluxion10

      As soon as markets shift or a coal port is built this coal could be mined. if it's cheap now environmentalists should buy the mining rights and sit on them.

      There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

      by BeerNotWar on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:44:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We Own It (6+ / 0-)

        These are public lands. We already own it. Why should a few of us who aren't stupid/crazy/evil pay the whole bill over again, so everyone shares in the benefits?

        Keeping pollution locked inside public property is one of the most obvious ways for the people to join together to protect the general welfare.

        "Libertarian" approaches like privatizing everything just packages it for harvest later. Like when the owners are forced to sell because they don't profit from the property but must pay costs the property owners force up to pressure all property to "perform". And force all owners to be part of its exploitation cartel.

        Instead we have a proven approach to public property that has worked well for centuries.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:01:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In a perfect world, sure (0+ / 0-)

          but in this one the fossil fuel industry owns our legislators. Do you honestly believe legislation banning coal mining on public lands has a chance of passing in the next decade?

          There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

          by BeerNotWar on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:25:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No Perfect World (3+ / 0-)

            The world in which you'd privatize the coal is just as imperfect as the one with public ownership. The rest of the economics in that shared imperfect world make public ownership a much less treacherous stewardship.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:43:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There are also problems with buying other (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lefty Coaster

            resources - look at fishermen and rafting groups (and environmental groups) that try and buy water rights so that the water can remain in streams and rivers and allow fish to swim and boaters to recreate.  They face lawsuits from farmers and miners and cities that say that the water must be used for the highest and best use - theirs, rather than for what the environmentalists and recreationists purchased it for, which was to preserve the river in place.

          •  No, not legislation, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            the falling price of coal and renewable energy both. Because we are at the rather broad tipping point known as Grid Parity where it will soon no longer be possible to get funding to build new coal-fired power plants in the US and many other countries, and it will be possible to meet new demand with renewables and improved efficiency. Roughly, if power plants have a working lifetime of 50 years, then we need to be able to build new systems to meet 2% or more of our demand each year. We will pass that level of construction in the next few years and keep growing ever faster. A simple projection suggests that we can reach 100% of current demand by 2030.

            Not only is Goldman Sachs advising investors not to put money into coal for power generation (thermal coal), they are also saying that coal for export is a bad investment. Coal for making steel is still viable, but there the idea is to get the carbon to go into solution in the iron and stay there.

            Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

            by Mokurai on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:22:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  political control of the government changes (0+ / 0-)

          but once you buy something outright, even republicans in the white house can't make you mine it.

      •  There are minimum bid requirements (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pgm 01, wu ming, Lefty Coaster

        and annual lease payments due, whether or not it is mined, so sitting on the coal is spendy, and then the lese expires.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:21:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  good answer. thanks n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Coaster
        •  I went and looked it up (0+ / 0-)

          There is also a requirement that the lease be producing coal or it can be rescinded. That means you'd actually have to take some coal out of it and do...something with it. I'm probably not the first jackass to think of sitting on these leases. Most likely those who already own other leases are motivated to do so in order to keep prices up.

          There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

          by BeerNotWar on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 03:32:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good news. (25+ / 0-)

    I just love how the decreasing cost of renewables couple with some targeted and smart regulations by the EPA have essentially killed off coal as an option for electricity production in the U.S.

    We're far from where we need to be, but we're definitely on the right track and moving in the right direction now.

    Tipped and recced.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:02:02 AM PDT

  •  Sooner or later, the reality of renewables win day (9+ / 0-)

    week, month, etc ...  hardly painless, but in long run level heads get obvious.

    Living the austerity dream.

    by jwinIL14 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:10:02 AM PDT

    •  I glanced really fast at your title line and got (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster

      renewables will run dry----

      Took a couple of seconds worth of OH nOES!!  WUT??!?

      Yep, the thing about renewables is they won't ever run dry until lots of things freeze over.

      Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by maybeeso in michigan on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:11:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  However, 'renewable energy' does not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

        mean energy with no greenhouse gas emissions impacts.

        All renewable energy featuring biomass combustion will contribute significant greenhouse gas emissions to current GHG problems.

        •  No, the whole point of biomass and of biofuels (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maybeeso in michigan

          generally is that they are carbon neutral. You take CO2 out of the air to make sugars, cellulose, and oils, and then you burn those to get the CO2 you started with, so there is no net increase.

          Of course, fuels that require energy-intensive processing to convert from plant matter, or that require energy-intensive agriculture, don't achieve that balance, so we shouldn't use those.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:31:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  "the market" is, like the economy, a euphemism. (13+ / 0-)

    It stands for the middlemen, who move things around and take a cut from each transaction, like predators at a moving feast.
    It didn't use to be that way. The economy used to be made up of producers and users and the market used to be where sellers and buyers met. The middlemen taking over and claiming all the profit is like the invasion of a parasite. It goes almost unnoticed at first, but eventually it debilitates the host near unto death.
    The irony is that while unsold products go to waste, natural resources left in the ground save assets for later use, which is the very essence of capitalism.
    How do I define waste? As organic or inorganic decomposition that's inimical to human health.

    •  Capitalism Is Property (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      natural resources left in the ground save assets for later use, which is the very essence of capitalism.

      No, that's not the essence of capitalism. The essence of capitalism, it's only essence, is property. If the natural resources left in the ground are someone's property, which is valued more than anything else (eg. more than people, or their work, or their health, etc) then that's capitalism, because it's property.

      Public ownership is a paradoxical form of capitalism that turns capitalism on its head when the property is left undeveloped. Sustainable development of public property is a naturally complex balance somewhere along this axis. But there is no sustainable development of any more coal on this planet. Not until at least as large a volume of carbon sequestration outside the ocean/atmosphere can be built into the system. Which again looks like public ownership of reforestation.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:07:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for this - if I were Big Coal, I'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy, cocinero

    invest like heck in technologies for "clean coal", making the whole chain from mining it, to transporting, to burning it as clean as technologically possible.

    Unless Big Coal can develop and implement such technologies to actually get to "clean coal", I agree that the market for coal will inevitably decline - the pace of the decline driven by how soon utilities and nations can convert economically to less-polluting, less damaging and/or cleaner alternatives.

    •  but that would require a long-term vision and (14+ / 0-)


      From what I know about coal operators, that's not in their wheelhouse. It's about digging it up and getting it sold. Damn the miners, damn the environment, and may the company and the commodities brokers get rich.

      There really is no "clean coal." That's really just a soundbite floated to justify continuing environmental and human damage. There was a time when we heard about new coal things like fluidized beds and other techno-sounding innovations, but these never happened either.

      Coal is best left in the ground, or at best used for very specific applications, like finding fossils or certain chemical reactions, IMHO. Steel-making arc furnaces is a good transitional step, potentially limiting the coal use to being the source of the carbon for the steel, not for the fuel to smelt and produce it.

      Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

      by p gorden lippy on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:01:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Their Bankers (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim, GAS, Egalitare

        The coal corps would rather move from short-term to short-term, leaving behind ruin for others to clean up. Their bankers require them to, and they're happy to move their property as money into some other industry when the old one isn't viable.

        They're not "coal people", they're "rich people". When the coal gets too expensive, they drop it for the next lowest hanging fruit.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:15:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We did get far-cleaner fluidized bed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Coaster

        boilers to burn coal, but those only reduced "traditional" pollutants like sulfur dioxides, not greenhouse gasses.

        The Dept of Energy has sunk billions into coal power plant grants to try and capture greenhouse gasses, but little is actually on-line.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:24:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  there's nothing to fix (16+ / 0-)

      If you try to clean up coal, I imagine the cost-benefit model goes out the window.  Coal was one of the first fossil fuels, and the epitome of "quick and dirty" with the emphasis on dirty.

      And, it's already out the window.  If I were Big Coal, I'd start divesting now.

      And if I worked in coal, I'd start looking at moving away from the mine.  We as a society should start planning on re-locating a lot of these jobs into some other sector, and by "these jobs" I mean "the actual people working them."

    •  There's only one way to achieve clean coal. (10+ / 0-)

      Fortunately, we already know how. Just leave the coal in the ground.

    •  Clean coal is a dirty lie (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster, Calamity Jean

      There are two versions: Coal gasification and CO2 sequestration. We have experience with both in Indiana through the Rockport Coal Gasification Boondoggle, which I Diaried about recently.

      In Indiana, Carbon Taxes You (Not)

      Short version:

      Firstly, you can't get as much energy from chemically processing coal into other fuels (syngas) and then burning those as you could get from burning the coal directly, so this necessarily costs more than other forms of power generation. The Indiana Legislature tried to pass a law to force public utilities and consumers to pay above-market prices for the syngas, but a court blocked part of the deal, and the company, Leucadia, then backed out completely.

      Secondly, there is no place to put the CO2 except at unacceptable cost. Leucadia's plan was to build a pipeline to an oil field in order to pump the gas down wells in order to get more oil out. The deal collapsed.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:39:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sadly, it's all about the bottom line (14+ / 0-)

    There is less interest in mining coal because the use of coal is way down. Coal usage is way down because power companies around the country are switching fuels, when possible, from coal to "natural" gas.

    The utilities aren't switching because it's the right thing to do, or because of legislation, or because of law suits. They're switching because the price of natural gas has fallen so much in the past two - three years.

    And why is that? The amount of "natural" gas on the market today (in the US) has grown hugely due to the use of fracking technology.

    I'm happy to see coal mines close, and new ones fail to open. But I wish that the reasons were more related to sustainability and good legislation, rather than economic drivers of the free market.

    When and if coal becomes the cheap fuel available, it will be mined again. We are, after all, a "market-driven economy".

    -5.38, -2.97
    The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

    by ChuckInReno on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:16:16 AM PDT

    •  Not only natural gas (8+ / 0-)

      but petcoke which is being used in lieu of coal and is far worse for the environment.  Basically it's the crap left over when the tar sands oil is refined.  So it's worse environmentally to extract, worse for the environment in the refinement process and worse when it's burned off to produce energy.  As far as the oil companies it's a win-win.  They're making money on the oil, making money on the crap left over from the oil and killing off a competitor (Big Coal) in the process.

      I agree fracking is a very troubling issue and we're essentially trading in coal for gas.  That means the whole extraction of these dirty products from the earth either via strip mining or fracking and then the burning off of them.  I frankly wish we'd push harder on solar and wind ala the Germans and Portuguese for example.  But I'm also very concerned about petcoke.  It's worse than coal and gas combined.

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:57:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  using the waste creatively, environment-be-damned (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pariah Dog, Lefty Coaster, tle

        seems to be the mantra of fossil fuelers.

        Think about asphalt the next time you go for a drive. It's the leftover sludge from oil refining. If it weren't for asphalt highways, driveways, and parking lots, what on earth would oil companies do with their sludge? Rather than have an enormous mountain of toxic sludge to hide, they get paid to have it smeared all over the landscape. Brilliant!

        Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

        by p gorden lippy on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:06:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Petcoke combustion impacts are trivial (0+ / 0-)

        compared to coal.

        Refineries have routinely produced petcoke for decades from many types of crude oil, not just tar sands.

        Petcoke is virtually the same as coal; almost-pure carbon with trace amounts of contaminants, not much worse.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:28:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would not call the differences between petcoke (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Coaster, 6412093

          and whichever coal you want to compare it to as trivial.

          Petcoke will generally release more CO2 per million BTU
          heat input than most coals because of higher carbon content.   Petcoke will contain more selenium and vanadium than most coal.

          Most petcoke will contain far more sulfur than even typical high sulfur eastern coals.

          •  We've got to do something about the short-term (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            climate change accelerants:  sulfur, methane, etc.

            The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:31:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not all of the sulfur contained in burned petcoke (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean

              will be released to the atmosphere since most petcoke that is produced is burned in cement kilns where a substantial portion of the sulfur dioxide released from coal combustion is scavanged in the cement klinker production process.   It would not be unusual for 40-50% of the sulfur dioxide to partition to  both the clinker and cement kiln dust as bound sulfur on a system-wide basis.  

              The take-away is that a cement kiln can function as a sort of very large dry scrubber for SO2 and HCl control purposes.

            •  Also.... (2+ / 0-)

              There have been dramatic and longstanding reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States, so it is not like substantial efforts have not been made to control SO2 emissions.   Actually very dramatic reductions have been achieved.   More can and will be done to control SO2 emissions from sources like power plants and refineries.

              •  It's a sensible way to buy time. (0+ / 0-)

                The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:03:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You are right LakeS, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Calamity Jean

                that pet coke is worse than coal, I didn't think it was that much worse.

                Is Sulfur dioxide a GHG?

                “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

                by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:11:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      • much of this is petcoke? (0+ / 0-)

        Seems to me that nat. gas is far more widely used.

        Not that that makes it something we should ignore.

        The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:30:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're too pessimistic, Chuck. Coal is dying. (17+ / 0-)

      1. Coal is already cheap, and it's getting cheaper because demand is drying up.  So a drop in price will not translate to increased sales. And this is because....

      2. The lion's share of coal's cost isn't the coal itself, it is the expensive measures required by power plants to make coal less dirty when it is burned (stack scrubbers to remove acid rain precursors, mercury removal, wastewater treatment, landfilling the ash, etc.). Natural gas plants need little of this infrastructure.

      3. Once the fossil fuel power plants switch over to natural gas, it would be horribly expensive to switch a plant back to coal for reason #2 above.  There are NO new coal plants being built in America for this reason. There are only pre-existing plants that were built back in the day before these measures were required.  No businessman in his right mind would build a coal plant from scratch in 2013.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:26:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But you said "in his right mind". There are (0+ / 0-)

        applications, I believe, for new coal power plants in this country and I'd be willing to bet that the people behind them are only in it for profit, not for any other reason.  Are they still in their right minds?

      •  That's pretty much it... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigtimecynic, defluxion10

        On a BTU-for-BTU basis, natural gas used to be roughly as expensive as petroleum---an energy-dense but relatively costly fuel, which is why we burn oil basically only for transportation and don't burn it to generate electricity.  Now natural gas is roughly as expensive as coal.  But with the extra maintenance and compliance costs associated with running a coal-fired power plant (which would exist even without new regulations; burning coal is just filthy to a degree that burning natural gas is not), a BTU of coal fuel has to be comfortably less expensive than a BTU of natural gas fuel for coal to make economic sense.  No one expects that to be the case anytime soon.  This is why no one is building coal-fired power plants and, in fact, some energy companies are taking existing (generally smaller) coal plants offline.  Burning thermal coal to generate electricity is going the way of burning wood to generate heat.

        •  Is there a cheap way to convert (0+ / 0-)

          Methane the main ingredient in Natural Gas to Propane for use in vehicles cause Propane can be liquified under pressure at regular Temps unlike Natural Gas that must be refrigerated and kept in Cryogenic Containers?

          •  In a word: No (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            GTL processes (gas-to-liquids) are the subject of quite a bit of research, and have been for a long time. I used to work for a company that was trying to develop such a process.

            The chemistry is really, really hard. Even though pathways do exist, they are pretty expensive. Research is still looking at new chemical pathways.

            -5.38, -2.97
            The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

            by ChuckInReno on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:19:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Can you give us links for that? (0+ / 0-)

        I have heard Goldman Sachs saying not to invest in coal-fired power plants, but not that it had stopped. Here in Indiana we are still fighting the Edwardsport Coal Gasification Boondoggle. That does not contradict what you are saying, because it was started years ago, and has had huge cost overruns.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:08:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I went looking, and found this (0+ / 0-)

          New coal-fired generation to top 112 GW globally

          In 2014, about 112 GW of new coal-fired generating capacity will begin operations with most of the investments happening in Asia, according to a report from the McIlvaine Co.

          The report, “Fossil & Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis & Forecast,” also says countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will build 500 MW of new coal-fired generation. In total, 112,099 MW of new capacity is expected to come online next year. East Asia has the most with 60,774 MW; followed by West Asia with 41,335. Africa will bring online 4,100 MW of coal, followed by Western Europe, South & Central America and Eastern Europe.

          500 MW is tidgy compared with other regions, but not quite none at all. Or do you mean that there are coal plant closing that would wipe out this tiny amount of construction?

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:41:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A new coal-fired generating plant takes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            four or five years to build.  The new coal generating capacity that's going to go into operation next year has been in the works for a while.  Of course, now that they are built, they are going to be used.  What would be revealing is how much coal-fired capacity is expected to start operating in 2016 to 2018.  I wouldn't be surprised if that is close to zero.  

            "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

            by Calamity Jean on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:28:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, thank you! (4+ / 0-)

      I'm in southeastern Ohio and I can't even begin to describe the fracking frenzy that's going on around here.

      BEEN going on for three years now, and they haven't even drilled very many wells yet. The problem is no pipelines around here to deliver the stuff. So it looks like we're in for another round of ROW leasing to build the pipelines.

      The local pols are cheering wildly of course because... JOBS! Never mind that all the good paying JOBS belong to wellhead workers from out of state, while the locals get to work in the service places that care for their needs. And never mind that as soon as those drillers are gone..........

      I too am happy to see coal gasp its last if only because it will stop the MTR. But coal or gas, it really doesn't matter. Before we know it, our beautiful, pristine countryside and clean air will be a fouled industrial zone. A few will be rich off their leases. Most will still be under or unemployed and scraping to get by with inflated prices of everything.

      Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

      by Pariah Dog on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:51:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hi Pariah Dog (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Coaster, defluxion10

        You are right, I reviewed some gas processing plants in your neck of the woods, around Harrison County.  It's booming.

        You know your area is in trouble, when the Texas construction contractors have their job site trailers all over the place.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:32:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hiya 6 (0+ / 0-)

          May I call you 6? lol

          Yeah, it's booming all right. And, as I said, it hasn't really even gotten up to speed yet.

          It's been almost impossible to get anything done at the title office for three years because the place is crawling with kids doing title and lease searches.

          Rent around here has gone batshit insane. Places that used to rent for $300-$400 are now going for $2000+. And these aren't anything spectacular! A friend of mine who had her house foreclosed on just finally found a place they could afford after a year and a half of looking.

          3000+ house sales as of June... in a county of 40,000. 75% of them to out of state banks and "investors."

          My old 1968 gas lease, held by Enervest for several years now, just got bought to Aubrey McClendon and we're scrambling to marshall our forces in preparartion for what he's got in mind. He also bought all the Shell leases on nearby properties.

          I guess if you're of a certain mindset, this is great. If you're like me and just wanted a nice quiet place in the country, you're screwed.

          My hope is that Aubrey will drill out of my sight, but that I'll be inside the unit and my traditionally dinky royalty checks will actually start amounting to something.

          Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

          by Pariah Dog on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:23:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent! (5+ / 0-)
    the twilight of the age of coal
    That's music to my ears!

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:33:42 AM PDT

  •  This problem is easily solved (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy, DocGonzo, defluxion10

    When there's a Republican administration in power, massive tax financed subsidies will be given to mining companies to make the extraction "profitable" again. Of course, then subsidies now given to unimportant things like education and health care will have to be cut.

    •  Competition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, defluxion10

      You're right. Which is why it's so urgent to incubate green energy and industry whenever we can. Then when "Conservatives" have the power they've got an industry that competes with coal for the subsidies and advantages.

      It's easier to fill the system with better recipients than to change the system. And indeed that's the only way to make changing the system possible.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:18:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From a regulation perspective, the timing was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, 6412093

    awful (or great depending on where you stand) for a large coal seam bid.  The USEPA just released draft guidelines for the new effluent limit guidelines (ELG's) that will force coal-fire power plants to make huge investments in wastewater and landfill runoff treatment to remove heavy metals.  I'm sure these ELGs are a factor in utilities planning on moving even farther away from coal.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:47:24 AM PDT

    •  Obama's Credit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm very pessimistic about Obama's execution these days. But the nature and timing of the Federal limits on coal, and their undermining the value of Federal coal sales like this, seem like quite deft execution of an environment/energy/industrial policy that values the right things.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:19:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cheaper to Re-Ignite the Cuyahoga River (9+ / 0-)

    with fracking.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:26:39 AM PDT

  •  In a way this is coal's Solyandra (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy, MKinTN

    done in by massive over-investment in China that crashed prices

    The down side is that this is a huge boon long term for global coal prospects, which are already booming:

    Coal Burning Is Up 50 Percent Worldwide, and It's Killing More People Than Ever

    Booming coal demand overwhelming green energy efforts:

    (any number of similar links can be easily found through Google).

    The bottom line is that all forcasts predict that coal is not dying - it will enjoy good times for the next 20 to 50 years.

    While the planet dies.

    •  Solyndra's Payoff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I bet that the half $billion the Americans paid to subsidize Solyndra delivered far more than that much benefit to Americans in the resulting cheaper competing products. Surely when also compared to the alternative: earlier arrival of Chinese solar panel market control, and the inevitable price rises. It also gave Germans and others time to establish competitive businesses that still keep everyone's prices lower.

      The extra costs to China for competing with Solyndra are surely much higher than the interest China collected on the extra Federal debt for it.

      It's a lot like the Star Wars budget busting that sank the Soviet Union (at similar cost in US debt). But this one is giving us cheaper and more widespread solar, instead of space war.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:24:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure I understand the benefits of Solyndra (0+ / 0-)

        that you point out wrt the adoption of solar power.

        But, my point was that the Chinese have done the same for coal - i.e., massively subsidized and invested in it, thus keeping it artificially cheap thereby ensuring that it will be used much more massively than would have otherwise happened (for example, it was only a year or two (maybe 3?) that India was totally chafing at the high price of coal but now that's not an issue anymore . .. . ).

        I should probably sit down and "do the math" but w/o any rigor, I wouldn't be surprised that the solar/coal dynamics have resulted in a 10 to 1 ratio in favor of coal.  i.e., not a Good Thing at all.

        •  Subsidies (0+ / 0-)

          Well, China subsidizes coal because it's the easiest subsidy to get the energy for the country's growth. Communism, even when just a mask for state capitalism, is based on subsidy by the central government for such strategic goals.

          The more the alternatives are easier to subsidize, the less the rest of the subsidies will go to coal. China has also heavily subsidized wind and solar, and even nukes. That has developed new power players in the Chinese scene, which will increase their share of those subsidies. Meanwhile, the alternatives create tech jobs and global integration, while Chinese coal just makes pollution and inflexibility.

          Coal is still gigantic. The news in this article might be only a slowing of its growth, which might still be growing faster than other energy sources (but I think it isn't). The inspirational news here is that there is a reversal of anything about coal growth.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:42:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  china invested in everything (0+ / 0-)

          coal, oil, nukes, wind, hydro and solar.

    •  Not Quite So Bleak (2+ / 0-)

      From the Motherboard article you cited:

      Last month, President Obama [...] stop funding coal projects abroad as part of foreign-aid spending. Shortly after, the World Bank announced it too would stop backing coal projects. Then the European Investment Bank did the same. All told, $10 billion in funding for coal was taken off the table.

      Just like that, the outlook for coal dimmed. A new Bloomberg report details the ways that those announcements lead to crumbling support for coal financing worldwide. Investors are increasingly leary of backing an energy source that has quickly become a sort of power non grata on the international stage. Furthermore, the writing's on the wall—climate change is so widely agreed to be a threat that investors know it's only a matter of time before carbon-curtailing policies will start hampering coal projects, even abroad.

      For the longest time everything has gone coal's way. That's why it's so cheap the BLM can practically give it away. But also the external costs are now becoming internalized, while subsidies are drying up, which is why today the BLM can't even give it away. As subsidies shift to competing energy sources, the trend will accelerate. We don't hunt whales for oil anymore, either.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:34:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, the reason the BLM can't give it away (0+ / 0-)

        is that China has over-invested in coal, causing the price to crash.

        I've been reading the death knell articles for coal for essentially ever, and yet year after year after year it keeps expanding.

        And if it really is dirt cheap, the implication is that the massive subsidies given by the World Bank really aren't needed anymore.

        The bottom line is that the "dirt cheap" dynamic essentially works the same for coal as it does for solar - it is really, really tricky for one to argue (as you seem to be) that it applies to one but not to the other.

  •  Excellent news, LC, my day is off to a good start. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster

    SSA is basically watching their entire economic reasoning for the Cherry Point terminal going up in smoke. I would expect that South Korea and Japan are also reducing their demands for coal as well, although I've not seen any news about any such thing.

    Another concern for the coal companies should be, if not already, is the health of the Chinese economy. If it begins to badly sputter, imports of all kinds will drop quickly, ergo coal becomes truly worthless as a world market commodity.

    Interesting times...

    And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

    by itzadryheat on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:31:54 AM PDT

  •  I'd be interested in (0+ / 0-)

    some kind of comparison to previous valuation of coal land, e.g., as a measure of the feasibility of coal use, now, relative to the Great Depression. For instance. In other words, I'd like more a historical context to place this news in.

    But thanks for an intriguing, exciting diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:38:47 AM PDT

  •  Thanks LC (3+ / 0-)

    Now if we can only get the BLM

    to "offer for bid" more public, clean energy resources,

    like these:

    Feds take one step closer to establishing 17 new "Solar Energy Zones" on Public Lands
    by jamess -- Aug 05, 2013

    It's kind of inevitable.

  •  Are we sure there's not a back room (0+ / 0-)

    deal in the works?

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:10:41 AM PDT

  •  Now that is real clean coal -- in the ground (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo, Lefty Coaster, 6412093, wu ming


    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:06:03 AM PDT

  •  Best News In a Long Time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster

    Economics seems finally to be counting the costs of heavy carbon against the short-term income.

    The people should seize this transition moment to enforce it with taxes or other ways that internalize the pollution costs into the property values. That's how social momentum turns buggy whips into cars without them having to share the road too long.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:56:34 AM PDT

  •  about the Longview coal port: (2+ / 0-)

    even though the WA legislature has not passed a transportation budget (Gov. Inslee may call a special session), there was $10 billion in the house bill for projects including rail (note: there were no appropriations for the SR 432 project for some reason).  

    State law (RCW 47.76) does authorize spending for purposes of improving 'freight rail systems' and coal is freight. So, the door can not be closed on future state spending for the the SR 432 corridor project.

    (note: the senate majority (Republicans) apparently did not like the new project known as the Columbia River Crossing (light rail Portland-Vancouver); while not saying so, they also did not like the funding proposal (an increase in gasoline taxes)).

    The temper of the times (especially so in politics) will change.  While there are so many competing projects and so many opinions of how to order priorities, this one could still sneak in.  Stay vigilant.

    Thank you for the diary.  

    We've reached the point where we're unfazed by things that should shake us to the core. –Bill McKibben (Volva Award recipient)

    by ume on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:57:36 AM PDT

  •  Reforest the Public Lands (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, cantelow

    Leaving the coal in the ground is a great slowdown of the pollution machine. Economics says it should stay there, so perhaps the economy is becoming more rational.

    We should take advantage of that momentum to reforest all pubic lands (that had sustainable forests). Grasslands should be remediated.

    If we have sustainable management of buffalo and other large mammals the way the peoples did for thousands of years before Europeans ripped the place up, we'll live the way our ancestors dreamed we could before they drove the place towards ruin. Give sustainable managers the privilege of using the public spaces in exchange for taxes on what they produce from it. Then they'll help the people keep the filthy exploiters from trashing the place.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:13:19 AM PDT

    •  The coal lease areas are pretty much (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster, DocGonzo

      grasslands, DocGonzo, at least the sites described in this diary.

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:35:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  fracking gas is killing coal, Solar is the coup de (3+ / 0-)


  •  The Only Clean Coal is Still Covered With Dirt! (0+ / 0-)

    If China is moving away from coal, that should be the final nail in the coffin of the export terminals that are still trying to win approval in Washington and Oregon.  So many reasons to not build these terminals, starting with saving this planet.  I live by the tracks in southwest Washington and had to wait fro an empty coal train to go by yesterday while walking my dogs.  This is another place where the impact of increased train traffic is to be mitigated by building a new overpass.  But again the cost of this infrastructure is socialized.  

    If we can't come up with the money to rebuild that antique I-5 bridge over the Columbia River, I don't see how spending any public money on this fiasco flies.

    Thanks for the good news this morning!

    "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

    by Delta Overdue on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:48:51 AM PDT

  •  why has nooone put in a low bid on this (0+ / 0-)

    with the goal of leaving that coal entombed in the ground where it belongs?

  •  This is good. So, YAY! And I mean that sincerely. (0+ / 0-)

    But I wish that we weren't replacing so much of it with natural gas.

    The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:28:42 PM PDT

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