Archive | Coal

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

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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 ( – December 19, 2018)

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)

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)

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 ( – December 18, 2018)

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)

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)

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)

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 →

Touting Coal But Negotiating Emissions Cuts – What Is Trump Up To In Poland? – by Dave Keating (Forbes Magazine – December 11, 2018)

Yesterday, when the U.S. delegation at UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland organised an event promoting fossil fuels, the reaction was fierce – and predictable.

It was the second year in a row the U.S. has staged such an event at the annual climate gathering setting the rules of the Paris Climate Agreement, staying true to the headline message coming from the White House that climate change is a hoax and the agreement will hinder economic growth.

But behind the scenes, delegates from the U.S. government are sounding a different tone. Speaking at a “innovation in coal and natural gas” event on the sidelines of the summit, Preston Wells Griffith, the deputy assistant secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy, told the audience that “alarmism should not silence realism.” Continue Reading →

Commentary: China, India pull back from coal imports, hurting prices – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – December 6,, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – It’s not shaping up as a merry Christmas for coal exporters to Asia as the region’s top buyers, China and India, pull back from the recent trend of strong imports.

The Chinese authorities appear to be making good on a commitment to try and limit the country’s imports of the polluting fuel to levels the same as 2017. The restrictions have led to a sharp drop in the daily import of coal so far in December, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv.

Seaborne imports in the first five days of the month stood at 1.5 million tonnes, or a daily rate of just 300,000 tonnes. This compares to total seaborne imports of 226.2 million tonnes in the first 11 months of 2018, a daily rate of about 677,000 tonnes. Continue Reading →

Adani: thousands protest across Australia against Carmichael mine – by Staff (The Guardian – December 8, 2018)

Thousands of protestors campaigning against Indian mining giant Adani’s controversial Queensland coalmine have taken to the streets in major cities across Australia to call on the government to stop it going ahead.

Protesters marched in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns on Saturday, just a week after 15,000 school students demonstrated against government inaction on climate change. It follows the announcement last month by Adani it would self-finance the controversial project after scaling back its size and scope.

The coal project is being downsized from a 60-million-tonnes a year, $16.5 billion mega-mine to a more manageable 10-to-15 million tonnes a year costing around $2 billion. In Brisbane, hundreds of protestors gathered outside Adani’s headquarters to voice their opposition to the project. Continue Reading →

Canada co-hosts ‘coal-free day’ at UN climate meeting in Poland – by Mia Rabson (The Canadian Press/Global News – December 8, 2018)

OTTAWA — Canada and the United Kingdom are hosting a “coal-free day” at the United Nations climate talks in Katowice, Poland, a city built on coal mining.

Poland relies on coal for almost 80 per cent of its electricity, more than double the global average, and Katowice is the heart of its industry. The city of about 300,000 people grew up around workshops and mills fuelled by the coal deposits abundant in the ground.

At the International Congress Centre in Katowice, where thousands of environment leaders and representatives from almost every country in the world are meeting for at least two weeks, you can see the smoke stacks and plumes of coal exhaust from nearby power plants. Continue Reading →

Poland celebrates coal as talks start in mining capital – by Jean Chemnick (E&E News – December 6, 2018)

The future of the Paris climate agreement is being charted now in a Polish city that proudly displays its coal-mining heritage. The U.N. climate talks that began Monday in Katowice, Poland, aim to finish the Paris “rulebook” — implementing guidelines for the 3-year-old pact.

Failure to strike a deal by the end of next week would undermine global trust in the climate deal in the wake of a U.N. report last year that showed only a swift decarbonization could avert disaster.

“Leaders of the world, you must lead,” British broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough said at the conference’s opening Monday. “The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.” U.N. chief António Guterres echoed that message, urging representatives of nearly 200 nations to work together. “Only global answers,” he said, “can solve global problems.” Continue Reading →

Trump administration to lift barriers to build new coal plants – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 6, 2018)

The Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era rules on climate change regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants in the United States, making it easier to build new ones.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan, announced Thursday, would no longer mandate that plants meet the strict emissions goals of achieving emissions equal to or less than what plants would have achieved with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Under the proposed revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), EPA would let new coal plants emit up to 1,900 pounds (862 kg) of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity. The rule would replace the Obama-era standard allowing only 1,400 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour. Continue Reading →

Miners’ Day celebrated in climate talks city in Poland – by Monika Scislowska (Associated Press/Washington Post – December 4, 2018)

KATOWICE, Poland — Miners’ brass bands led celebrations Tuesday honoring the patron saint of miners in the southern Polish city that’s hosting this year’s U.N. climate talks.

Musicians began Miner’s Day, dedicated to Catholic Saint Barbara, with a traditional sunrise concert in the streets of a historic district in Katowice.

The performers, dressed in black uniforms with red plumed hats, marched to church for a Mass in honor of the patron saint, who they believe watches over the miners as they toil underground.

Katowice has been a center of coal mining for more than a century and its culture is closely intertwined with the industry that is largely blamed for global warming. Many mines have closed in the Silesia region in recent years due to financial pressure and the drive for climate protection.

President Andrzej Duda vowed to miners that he would protect their jobs, saying coal mining is “one of the foundations of Poland’s economy.” “Don’t worry. As long as I’m Poland’s president I will not allow anyone to murder Poland’s mining,” Duda said.

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