Archive | Coal

Canada could impact emissions were Ottawa not so obsessed with carbon taxes – by Brad Wall (Financial Post – January 18, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Brad Wall is the former premier of Saskatchewan. He is currently an adviser for Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt in Calgary.

Canadian technology could clean up hundreds of coal plants around the world

Three years ago, there we were at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference: 383 Canadians strong. Our delegation was larger than almost any other country’s, rivalling even the host country’s delegation. Canada was back.

Saskatchewan was there, too, with our three-person contribution to the overall Canadian throng, though we may have been a little out of step.

Just two weeks before Paris, the Alberta government had announced its own carbon tax. The explicit and implied promise was that this indulgence paid by Albertans would purchase the absolution required to secure pipeline approvals. Saskatchewan then was alone in its opposition to a nationally imposed carbon tax. So, in Paris we were — without intention — a few prairie skunks at this low-carbon garden party. Continue Reading →

President Trump can’t stop U.S. coal plants from retiring – by Scott DiSavino (Reuters U.S. – January 14, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – More U.S. coal-fired power plants were shut in President Donald Trump’s first two years than were retired in the whole of Barack Obama’s first term, despite the Republican’s efforts to prop up the industry to keep a campaign promise to coal-mining states.

In total, more than 23,400 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired generation were shut in 2017-2018 versus 14,900 MW in 2009-2012, according to data from Reuters and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Trump has tried to roll back rules on climate change and the environment adopted during the Obama administration to fulfill pledges to voters in states like West Virginia and Wyoming. Continue Reading →

Mining mafia is wreaking havoc across India – by Anand Kumar (Dawn.com – January 14, 2019)

https://www.dawn.com/

THE mining mafia, which undertakes illegal mining of coal, iron ore, sand, bauxite, chromite and sand, has tremendous reach across different Indian states. And it is only when a disaster strikes illegal mining, as happened last month in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, that a lot of noise is generated and government leaders talk of enforcing the ban on illegal mining and cracking down on the mafia.

But within weeks, things just settle down and the mafia deepens its operations across India. Last month saw one of the worst disasters when 15 miners were trapped — and are believed to have died by now — in an illegal ‘rat-hole’ coal mine in Meghalaya.

The illegal operators of rat-hole mining dig holes and make narrow tunnels to extract coal. In Meghalaya, the lush green state nestling in the hills, coal mining is a notorious activity undertaken by many illegal miners. Continue Reading →

Is Edward Burtynsky’s Anthropocene proof of ecological disaster — or power politics? – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – January 5, 2019)

https://nationalpost.com/

With the arrival of Burtynsky as a high-profile advocate, the science campaign to define and identify the Anthropocene gets a fresh publicity boost

To sell Canadians on the merits of his carbon tax plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau staged a media event in late October before a group of high school students at the National Gallery in Ottawa. His backdrop was a wall-size image of Cathedral Grove #1, a beautiful but dark-hued interior view of a boreal forest on Vancouver Island taken in 2017 by famed Canadian landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky.

The link between the peaceful majesty of Cathedral Grove #1 and the crass politics of a $20 carbon tax might not be obvious. But the high school students were at the National Gallery to take in Anthropocene, a major multimedia exhibit based on new Burtynsky photographs that depicts assorted human incursions on the geography of the planet — coal mining, garbage production, logging, oil refining, expressways, marble quarries, underground tunnels.

Trudeau’s simplistic message to the students — and all Canadians — was that a carbon tax will help curtail this ongoing ruination of the Earth. Behind the simple message, however, is a complex tangle of motives, objectives and political wrangling that animate the key players behind the exhibit. Continue Reading →

India disaster exposes lack of enforcement against deadly illegal mines – by Roli Srivastava Reuters U.S. – January 4, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ongoing efforts to reach victims of a mining disaster in northeastern India have exposed what campaigners say is poor enforcement against such illegal mines, where undocumented workers risk injury or death.

At least 15 people were trapped when an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya state flooded on Dec. 13. Rescue efforts continue, although relatives said this week they had lost hope that the miners were still alive.

Environmental concerns have led to India imposing bans on the mining of coal, mica and sand, among other minerals. Yet, workers across the country continue to put themselves at risk as illegal mining continues. Continue Reading →

U.S. limits on coal plant mercury emissions too costly: Trump’s EPA – by Humeyra Pamuk (Reuters U.S. – December 28, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Friday said limits on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants were unnecessary as they were too costly, sparking an outcry from environmentalists who feared the next step would be looser rules favoring the coal industry at the expense of public health.

Under the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, or MATS, enacted under former President Barack Obama, coal-burning power plants were required to install expensive equipment to cut output of mercury, which can harm pregnant women and put infants and children at risk of developmental problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency left the 2011 emission standards in place but proposed using a different cost analysis to evaluate whether the regulation is needed, a move that paves the way for looser rules going forward. Its statement was issued on Friday during a partial government shutdown. Continue Reading →

Trapped Miners Reveal Dirty Secret Of Meghalaya’s Elites – by Silvester Phanbuh (Huffington Post India – December 31, 2018)

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/

The disaster has cast an uncomfortable light on how some of the wealth in cities like Shillong comes from the narrow, unstable tunnels of the rat-hole mines in the countryside.

KSAN, Meghalaya — On 11 December, Melambok Dkhar (22), Dimonme Dkhar (20), Shalabas Dkhar (20), three cousins from Lumthari village in the East Jaintia Hills district, showed up at the illegal ‘rat-hole’ coal mines of Ksan to earn a little extra money for Christmas.

“From the bottom of the mine, the light of the surface literally looked this small — that was what they told me after their first day,” said Pressmeky Dkhar, bringing his thumb and index finger together. Pressmeky is Melambok and Dimonme’s youngest uncle. “The brothers never wanted to work at the mine for too long — just to make some quick money, help at home, and spend during the Christmas season.”

Three days later, the cousins were amongst the 15 miners trapped when waters from the adjacent Wah Lytein river flooded the mineshaft. Now, as Christmas gives way to the new year, the families of these three young pillars of the Lumthari village community are slowly giving up hope of ever seeing their sons alive. Continue Reading →

Covering Climate Talks in the Heart of Poland’s Coal Country – by Brad Plumer (New York Times – December 19, 2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times.

The backdrop for this year’s big United Nations climate talks seemed, at first, a bizarre choice. Diplomats from across the globe converged on Katowice, a city in the heart of Poland’s southwestern coal-mining region, to discuss how the world’s nations could accelerate their efforts to shift away from fossil fuels.

But when I traveled to Poland last week to cover those climate talks, I discovered that the setting was fairly apt. Lately, climate policymakers around the world have been grappling with the fact that even the best-laid plans to tackle global warming will falter if they don’t take into account people who might lose out from a shift to cleaner energy. And Poland offered a sharp illustration of just how difficult that can be in practice. Continue Reading →

“Mine 9” thriller filmed in Appalachia, depicts dangers of coal mining – by Ellie Romano (WCYB.com – December 19, 2018)

 

https://wcyb.com/

The movie “Mine 9” was partially filmed in Buchanan County, Virginia at the Calico coal mine. The storyline follows nine miners who get trapped miles below the earth’s surface after an accident at the mine. The thriller is about how they can get out of the mine before time, and oxygen run out.

The movie is inspired by several mining accidents that happened in the Appalachian region.One of the film’s stars, Kevin Sizemore, is a West Virginia native. He grew up in coal country, but says working on the movie opened his eyes to the hard work coal miners endure every day.

“I never anticipated how hard that job was as a kid. When you’re a kid you don’t think about it. But then, as you get older you realize how hard it is and how hard these guys work,” said Sizemore. “I learned about the sacrifice they make physically, and for their families.” Continue Reading →

An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It – by Howard Berkes, Huo Jingnan and Robert Benincasa (National Public Radio – December 18, 2018)

https://www.npr.org/

Greg Kelly’s grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather’s house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly’s small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek.

“I just pray that the Lord give me as much time as I can with him,” Kelly said, his eyes welling with tears. “He just lightens my life. I want to be as fun with him as I can. And do as much as I can with him.” Caden is 9 years old, and even at his age he knows what happened to his paw-paw at the Harlan County, Ky., coal mines where Kelly labored as a roof bolter for 31 years.

“That coal mine made your lungs dirty, didn’t it?'” Kelly recalled Caden asking. “Yeah it did. … And I can’t breathe and I have to have my backpack to breathe,” Kelly told him. It’s a familiar tale across Appalachia. Continue Reading →

The fossil fuel era is coming to an end, but the lawsuits are just beginning – by Kyla Tienhaara (The Conversation – December 18, 2018)

https://theconversation.com/

Kyla Tienhaara is the Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, Queen’s University, Ontario.

“Coal is dead.” These are not the words of a Greenpeace activist or left-wing politician, but of Jim Barry, the global head of the infrastructure investment group at Blackrock — the world’s largest asset manager. Barry made this statement in 2017, but the writing has been on the wall for longer than that.

Banks know it, which is why they are increasingly unwilling to underwrite new coal mines and power plants. Unions and coal workers know it, which is why they are demanding a just transition and new employment opportunities in the clean economy. Even large diversified mining companies are getting out of the business of coal.

The only ones who seem to have remained in denial are President Donald Trump and non-diversified mining companies like Westmoreland Coal. The Denver-based firm made a bad bet in 2013 when it purchased five coal mines in Alberta. Now it wants Canadian taxpayers to pay for its mistake. Continue Reading →

Mitsubishi kisses thermal coal goodbye, sells Aussie mines – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – December 18, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

Mitsubishi Corporation is selling its interest in two Australian thermal coal mines for A$750 million ($539 million) to its joint venture partners Glencore and Sumitomo Corp., in a move that marks the end of its involvement in upstream fossil fuels.

The company, which is Japan’s biggest trading house, will sell its 31.4% stake in the Clermont coal mine to GS Coal, the 50-50 joint venture between Glencore and Sumitomo, and its 10% stake in the Ulan coal mine to Glencore.

The Swiss miner and commodities trader said the deal value was $530 million. Glencore noted it would only spend $130 million, mainly on the Ulan asset, while GS Coal will use its own funds for the Clermont stake. Continue Reading →

The Future of Mountaintop Removal Is Lavender – by Josh Dean (Bloomberg News – December 17, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

In Appalachia, the coal mining process has stripped mountains to their cores, leaving little more than dirt and rocks. But one hardy plant seems to thrive in it.

Mountaintop removal mining—MTR, in industry shorthand—is a catastrophic process with a refreshingly honest name. Basically, a mountain and all the life that once grew upon it is stripped away to expose seams of bituminous coal, leaving behind an enormous pile of dirt and rock that’s good for almost nothing.

Except, it seems, growing lavender. Four years ago a group at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park, a startup incubator in South Charleston, began an experimental program to see if this hardy, trendy plant could be grown on such sites and harvested for oil used in soaps, lotions, and perfumes. Continue Reading →

Nations agree on global climate pact rules, but they are seen as weak – by Nina Chestney, Bate Felix, Agnieszka Barteczko (Reuters Canada – December 15, 2018)

https://ca.reuters.com/

KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) – Nearly 200 countries overcame political divisions late on Saturday to agree on rules for implementing a landmark global climate deal, but critics say it is not ambitious enough to prevent the dangerous effects of global warming.

After two weeks of talks in the Polish city of Katowice, nations finally reached consensus on a more detailed framework for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical. Through this package you have made a thousand little steps forward together. You can feel proud,” Polish president of the talks Michal Kurtyka told delegates. After he struck the gavel to signal agreement had been reached, ministers joined him on the stage, hugging and laughing in signs of relief after the marathon talks. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Corporate welfare is costly, even when it’s green – by Mark Milke (Globe and Mail – December 14, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Multiple headlines in the past several weeks have highlighted how government subsidies to major corporations did nothing to stem factory closings and job losses. They include Bombardier Inc.’s announcement of 5,000 layoffs despite at least $5-billion in federal and Quebec subsidies.

Then General Motors Co. announced it was laying off 14,700 people across North America. That came despite tax dollars going to the automotive sector: $3.7-billion in Canada and US$16.6-billion in the United States, stemming from the 2008-09 government bailouts.

Now switch gears and look at favourable headlines for another industry – green energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that wind, solar and biomass will capture two-thirds of the new investment dollars in new power plants by 2040. But what exactly is meant by “investment dollars” when renewables receive massive taxpayer aid? Continue Reading →