The Big Fail: Summer Of Despair For Coal

- July 24, 2012

Obama’s War On Coal Is Leading To Layoffs, Closures, And Bankruptcies


Under The Obama Administration, 111 Coal Power Plants Have Closed In The Past Two Years. “But in the past two years, an increasing number of coal-powered electricity plants across the country have announced closures. Estimates vary, but banking and industry analysis firm Credit Suisse put expected and known closures for 2009-2012 at 111 plants, that's one-fifth of the nation's nearly 500 coal plants.” (Lisa Desjardins, “The War Over Coal Is Personal,” CNN, 7/17/12)

“Regulatory Excess Of The Obama Administration” Cited For Layoffs At The Ohio Valley Coal Company’s Powhatan No. 6 Mine In Belmont County, Ohio.  “The Ohio Valley Coal Company announced Friday it has been forced to reduce its workforce at the Powhatan No. 6 Mine in Belmont County, Ohio. According to a news release 29 hourly jobs will be cut. The company cites regulatory excess of the Obama Administration as a direct cause to the layoffs.” (Colin Lawler, “Ohio Valley Coal Co. Announces Layoffs,” WTRF, 7/21/12)

In Ohio, FirstEnergy Will Begin Downsizing Its Bay Shore Plant In September; Eventually 73 Workers Will Lose Their Jobs. “Electric utility FirstEnergy Corp., Toledo Edison's parent firm, said this week it will begin its planned downsizing of the Bay Shore plant in Oregon on Sept. 1 by permanently laying off workers. The number of workers to be laid off eventually will total 73.” (“Layoffs To Begin Sept. 1 At Bay Shore Plant,” Toledo Blade, 7/20/12)

In Pennsylvania, “PBS Coals Inc. And Its Affiliate Company, RoxCoal Inc., Laid Off About 225 Workers As Part Of An Immediate Idling Of Some Deep And Surface Mines In Somerset County.” “PBS Coals Inc. and its affiliate company, RoxCoal Inc., laid off about 225 workers as part of an immediate idling of some deep and surface mines in Somerset County. The company now employs 795 workers. In a statement, PBS President and CEO D. Lynn Shanks said foreign and domestic markets were seeing softened demand for coal. ‘Additionally, the escalating costs and uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations and interpretations have created a challenging business climate for the entire coal industry,’ he said in the statement.” (Eric Schwartzel, “Two Coal Companies Downsize,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/20/12)

In New York, Coal-Fired Power Plant Cayuga Operating Company “Could Be Temporarily Shutdown Come January 16.” “The owners of a coal-fired power plant in Lansing, Tompkins County, intend to mothball the facility by mid-January, according to a filing made with state regulators Friday. In a letter to the state Public Service Commissioner, a top executive for the new owners of the former AES Cayuga facility wrote that the plant’s two units could be temporarily shut down come January 16.” (Jon Campbell, “N.Y. Coal-Fired Power Plant To Close,” Poughkeepsie Journal, 7/20/12)

In Missouri, Patriot Coal Voluntarily Filed For Reorganization Under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. “Patriot Coal Corporation (NYSE: PCX), a producer and marketer of coal products in the eastern United States, announced today that Patriot and substantially all of its wholly owned subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.” (Press Release, “Patriot Coal Files For Chapter 11 Reorganization To Improve The Company’s Long-Term Prospects,” Patriot Coal, 7/9/12)

In West Virginia, Consol Energy Is Laying Off 318 Coal Miners, “Citing Pressure From Federal Environmental Regulators.” “At the same time Consol Energy is ramping up its natural gas drilling efforts, company officials are laying off 318 West Virginia coal miners, citing pressure from federal environmental regulators.” (Casey Junkins, “Coal Jobs Cut; Consol, Others Scaling Back,” The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, 7/8/12)

In Kentucky, Arch Coal Will Lay Off More Than 500 Miners.  “Arch Coal will lay off more than 500 miners in the struggling coalfields of eastern Kentucky, a coal industry executive said Thursday, in the latest setback for an industry increasingly being pushed aside as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.” (“Coal Official Says Arch Coal Plans Layoffs In Ky,” The Associated Press, 6/21/12)

In Kentucky And West Virginia, Alpha Natural Resources Announced It Would Idle Or Reduce Production In 10 Mines, Leaving 168 Without Jobs. “Alpha Natural Resources plans to idle four coal mines and two preparation plants, leaving 150 people without jobs and nearly three hundred others affected. We're told 436 employees at three underground and one surface mine are affected by these suspensions. Of those 436, 286 will be offered other positions at mining operations and 150 will be laid off.” (“Alpha Natural Resources Announces Plans To Lay Off 150 Employees,” WYMT News, 6/8/12)


“Those Who Insist There Is No War On Coal By Obama Ignore The Evidence, Including Layoffs.” “Hundreds of miners in West Virginia and Kentucky also are being idled, their companies revealed recently. Those who insist there is no war on coal by Obama ignore the evidence, including layoffs. Unfortunately, the affected miners and their families, some of them local, cannot close their eyes to the situation.” (Editorial, “Area Miner Victims Of Obama’s Policy,” The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, 7/23/12)

The Wall Street Journal: “For Three Years The Environmental Protection Agency Has Imposed A De Facto Ban On New Coal-Fired Power While Doing Everything It Can To Harm Existing Coal Plants.” (Editorial, “Killing Coal,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/5/12)

Obama’s Greenhouse Rule Will “Effectively Prohibit New Coal-Fired Power Plants.” “President Barack Obama’s proposed emission rules for power plants effectively prohibit new coal- fired power plants, buttressing the nation’s shift away from a power source that fueled the Industrial Revolution to cheap natural gas. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from U.S. power plants yesterday, setting a standard natural-gas facilities can meet. A new coal plant, however, would need carbon-capture technology, which industry lobbyists say isn’t available at competitive rates.” (Mark Drajem, “Obama Power-Plant Rule Signals Demise Of ‘Old King Coal,’” Bloomberg, 3/28/12)

The “EPA’s Utility MACT Rule Is The Agency’s Most Expensive Upcoming Air Regulation,” Forcing Some Coal Plants To Shut Down Or Make Substantial Investments That Could Hit Consumers, And Cause A Decrease In Power-Generating Capacity. “But everyone agrees on several things: EPA’s utility MACT is the agency’s most expensive upcoming air regulation. Some coal plants will shut down, and many others are likely to switch to natural gas. Many utilities will have to make substantial investments, which could hit ratepayers with higher bills. And the electric grid will see some decrease in power-generating capacity.” (Erica Martinson and Darius Dixon, “Is EPA Rule Coal In Utilities’ Stockings?,” Politico, 11/22/11)

The Utility MACT Rule Is “The Most Costly In The EPA’s History In Return For Marginal Benefits” And Could Compromise The Reliability Of The Electric System By Forcing A Large Portion Of The Country’s Coal Fired Power Plants To Close. “At issue is the so-called utility rule that would impose new limits on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. The regulation is the most costly in the EPA’s history in return for marginal benefits. It was rushed out to force a large portion of the country’s coal-fired power plants to shut down. On top of other such de facto anticarbon rules, this could compromise the reliability of the electric system if as much as 8% of generating capacity is subtracted from the grid.” (Editorial, “Government Vs. EPA,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/11)

Current Retirement Of Power Plants Is Twice As High As The EPA Predicted Due To Regulations. “EPA’s power plant-level modeling projected that Agency regulations would close 14.5 GW of generating capacity.  That number rises to 28 GW when including additional announced retirements related to EPA rules, almost twice the amount EPA projected.  Moreover, this number will grow as plant operators continue to release their EPA compliance plans.” (“IER Identifies Coal Fired Power Plants Likely To Close As Result Of EPA Regulations,” Institute For Energy Research, 10/7/11)

An Industry Study Said The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Is Most Expensive Regulation Ever Imposed By The EPA On Coal-Fueled Power Plants.  “The EPA today announced its final ‘Cross-State Air Pollution Rule,’ despite an analysis showing that the regulation, in combination with other EPA rules, would be among the most expensive ever imposed by the agency on coal-fueled power plants, dramatically increasing electricity rates for American families and businesses, causing substantial job losses.”  (Press Release, “EPA Finalizes Expensive New Regulation,” American Coalition For Clean Coal Electricity, 7/7/11)

Obama and His administration Are rooting For Coal To Fail In America

The Intelligencer & Wheeling News Register: “Obama’s Goal, In Which Top EPA Officials And Liberals In Congress Cooperate Enthusiastically, Is To Wreck The Coal Industry.” “Obama’s goal, in which top EPA officials and liberals in Congress cooperate enthusiastically, is to wreck the coal industry. As we have pointed out, eliminating relatively low-priced electricity generated from coal will put many industries in this region at a competitive disadvantage against those elsewhere. That may well be part of the liberals’ strategy.” (Editorial, “End EPA War Against Coal,” The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register, 1/1/12)

While Campaigning For President In 2008, Barack Obama Said That His Cap-And-Trade Program Would Bankrupt Coal-Powered Plants. OBAMA: “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Interview With The San Francisco Chronicle’s Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17/08)

Vice President Biden In 2008: “No Coal Plants Here In America.” (Joe Biden, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Maumee, OH, 9/16/08)

Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Coal Is My Worst Nightmare.” (Steven Chu, “The Energy Problem: What The Helios Project Can Do About It,” Berkeley, CA, 4/23/07)

EPA Chief Lisa Jackson Encouraged College Activists To Campaign Against Coal. “College environmental activists met Thursday with Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to tell her what they’re doing at their schools to try to shut down campus coal-fired heating plants. ‘It’s so important that your voices are heard, that campuses that are supposed to be teaching people aren’t meanwhile polluting the surrounding community with mercury and costing the children a few IQ points because of the need to generate power. It’s simply not fair,’ Jackson said.” (Renee Schoof, “EPA Chief Encourages College Activists In Campaign Against Coal,” The Kansas City Star, 10/27/11)

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