coal

Subsidized to the End: Not Even Corporate Welfare Can Save Big Coal

This year, two energy companies that have each received billions of dollars in subsidies and financial support from the federal government are going into bankruptcy. You might think, in this post-Solyndra political environment, that conservative commentators and politicians would be lining up at the Fox News studios to call for some heads to roll.

But, no. Even though these companies have benefited from enough federal subsidies to make the Solyndra loan look like pocket change, there's no outrage. Because they are coal companies (not solar), the story isn’t about how the federal government spent decades propping them up, it’s about how the president’s Clean Power Plan is taking them down.
 
For decades, however, coal companies have taken advantage of vast subsidies for extracting coal from public lands. The deals for mining this taxpayer-owned coal from American public lands were so good that some of the world’s biggest coal companies have relied on the cheap leases to survive as demand plummeted and the industry melted down.

A new report released last week by Greenpeace reveals just how big a part of Big Coal’s business federally subsidized coal has become. 

Peabody Energy, World's Top Coal Miner, Expected to File for Bankruptcy as Stock Price Tanks

Peabody Energy (BTU), the top miner of coal in the world, may soon file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The news comes as Peabody's stock closed Wednesday at a six-month low of $2.19 per share — a 46-percent fall. Peabody noted its potential bankruptcy in the company's March 16 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K.

“If we are not able to timely, successfully or efficiently implement the strategies that we are pursuing to improve our operating performance and financial position, obtain alternative sources of capital or otherwise meet our liquidity needs, we may need to voluntarily seek protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,” stated Peabody

Climate Science Denier Patrick Moore Paid by Coal Lobbyists EURACOAL To Speak To EU Officials and Members of Parliament

Europe's coal lobby association EURACOAL paid for climate science denier Patrick Moore to speak to members of the European Parliament (MEP) and EU officials at an intimate dinner-debate last month, DeSmog UK can reveal.

As a March newsletter sent out by the European Energy Forum (EEF) details, Moore was invited as the main speaker at the dinner hosted by EURACOAL on 2 February in Strasbourg entitled “Climate Demons or Climate Gods: Coal Industry Stakes Its Future”.

An EEF press officer confirmed to DeSmog UK that coal lobbyists EURACOAL invited Moore to speak. The Canadian climate science denier is known for promoting the idea that “We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life it is”.

Oregon First to End Coal Era: Landmark Ban Sets National Standard for Clean Energy

The Oregon legislature just put another nail in the coffin of the coal era.

On Friday, Oregon governor Kate Brown signed into law one of the most ambitious and sweeping pieces of energy legislation in the country’s history, one which will eradicate the use of coal for electricity generation entirely within two decades.

The pioneering law makes Oregon the first state in the nation to legislate a ban on coal for the electric supply, while also mandating that utilities provide half of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2040.

Add those new renewables to Oregon’s existing hydropower resources and, in less than 25 years, the state’s electric sector will be between 70 and 90-percent carbon-free, one of the cleanest energy portfolios in the country.

China Will Close 1,000 Coal Mines As Industry Continues to Sputter

China has announced plans to close more than 1,000 coal mines in 2016, cutting production by 60 million tonnes. The move is part of a larger mandate to eliminate as much as 500 million tonnes of surplus production over the next five years, the government says. 
 
When it comes to coal, China is king: it is the world's largest producer and also its largest consumer. Last year, the country's 10,760 mines produced 3.7 million tonnes of coal. Yet, it's estimated that over half (2 million tonnes) that capacity does not get used, every year. According to a Reuters report, demand has waned due to the combination of a slowing economy and government policy to curb pollution by moving away from fossil fuels.
 
In addition to the air pollution from burning coal that plagues Chinese cities and exacts huge costs on society, the country's coal mining over-production is a real problem. Last year the country's supply surplus drove domestic prices down by a third.  Prices have dropped for five straight years thanks to a glutted market. Recognizing one of its most important economic sectors is in trouble, China hopes to stimulate the industry through consolidation.  The government has plans to eventually shut down all mines that produce less than 90,000 tonnes per year. Under this policy 5,600 mines will be shuttered.

Introducing the Corporate Front Groups That Helped Win a Supreme Court Stay of Obama's Clean Power Plan

On February 9, just days before the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay freezing President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP). 

While many articles have speculated on what Scalia's death means as it relates to the future of the CPP — and the Court's voting balance tipping from a 5-4 conservative majority to a potential 5-4 liberal majority — there's been less attention paid to the corporate-funded network that launched a slew of lawsuits against the government to add legal muscle to the state Attorneys General attacks on the CPP.

A DeSmog investigation of the dozens of legal challenges filed just before the holidays at the federal Appeals Court level reveals that big corporate interests sit at the center of a coordinated attack against the Obama administration's regulatory attempt to curb emissions for coal-fired power plants.

New Report Identifies The Fossil Fuels We Must Keep In The Ground To Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill

As the U.S. presidential race dominates the media, it is easy to forget that both chambers of the U.S. Congress are currently in session. The U.S. Senate has put a major energy bill on the table, the first of its sort since 2007.

The 237-page bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 — includes provisions that would expedite the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permitting process, heap subsidies on coal technology, and fund research geared toward discovering a way to tap into methane hydrate reserves.

As we saw with the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban, which was part of a broader congressional budget bill, a DeSmog investigation reveals that these provisions once existed as stand-alone bills pushed for by an army of fossil fuel industry lobbyists.

Beyond Koch: Meet the Other Right-Wing Oligarchs Featured in Jane Mayer's "Dark Money"

The shenanigans of the “Kochtopus” have garnered most of the headlines — including here — pertaining to reviews of New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer's new book, Dark Money.

But the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries' right-wing family foundation network are far from the only big money influencers featured in the must-read book which has jumped to #4 on the Best Sellers list at Amazon.com.

Enter the Scaife, Olin and Bradley family fortunes, all three of which have served as key nodes through which the right-wing have tried to reshape the public policy landscape within (and beyond) the U.S. in the years following the Cold War until present day. If those family names sound familiar to DeSmog readers, they should: we have a profile in our database for Scaife and have written fairly extensively about Olin and Bradley.

US Solar Jobs Double As Clean Energy Continues Explosive Growth Around The World

Renewable energy continued its explosive growth in 2015 — and I don’t mean explosive like an oil train accident.

A new global record was set last year with the investment of $328.9 billion in clean energy. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 2011, by 3 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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