Inside coal industry meeting: Global warming just a scare

July 27, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

I knew I’d found the right room in the Charleston Civic Center when I turned the corner and heard the familiar voice of Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. He was saying something about how long the climate change bill was and how he didn’t think anybody in the House of Representatives had read it before they voted on it.

So, I passed by the coffee and cookies and quietly slipped into the room. Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton said something about it being an “exclusive” event. But they’ve got to expect the riffraff to show up if they promote these things on their Web site. The announcement I saw said the event was “in further pursuit to better understand the overwhelmingly complex issue of ‘cap & trade’ and urged Coal Association members and supporters from the state Business and Industry Council to attend. And as I grabbed a seat off to the side, I saw familiar faces: Steve Walker of Walker Machinery, Arch Coal lobbyist John Snider, coal operator Andrew Jordon, GOP political operative (and friend of Don Blankenship) Greg Thomas, and Tim Mallen and Jeri Matheny of American Electric Power.

me4.jpgBut the presentation by Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute struck me as really little more than a pep talk, urging coal industry officials to continue to deny that global warming is real and keep fighting any effort at all to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is about a lot more than defending your industry and your state,” Ebell told a couple dozen coal operators, utility representatives and other industry officials. “This is about the future of the American economy. You’re fighting for every American here.”

The coal folks, of course, ate this up. It’s exactly what they want to hear. This is what they tell themselves. This is what they want the rest of us to believe.

But that’s not all that Ebell said that the coal folks loved …  he also made it clear that there’s one other key point that the forces fighting any action on climate change rely on: Their insistence that the very notion that human pollution is heating up the planet is, as he put it,  “a speculative theory that appears to have very little evidence in fact.”

So what’s Ebell got to back this up? Well, not very much, apparently. He said he has a more detailed presentation on “the science,” but didn’t bring it with him because he only wanted to spend “about two minutes” on that part of his talk.

Basically, Ebell stuck to one piece of information he said supports his view: That average global temperatures have not gone up since 1997, when the Kyoto treaty was negotiated.  Specifically, he said:

It was no warmer in 2008 than it was in 1997.

OK … can’t we be done with this kind of cherry-picking of data? I mean come on. This is all too important for that.

Yes, there have been some media reports that focused on 2008 being a fairly cool year.  But that’s totally — completely — beside the point. Climate is all about long-term trends, as Joseph Romm writes at Climate Progress. Picking two years out of space and comparing them gets the discussion absolutely nowhere.

The long-term trend? It’s clear, as I’ve tried to explain many times before on Coal Tattoo:

… The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in its most recent assessment, published in 2007 that, “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.”

The IPCC added that the increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century “is very likely” — meaning scientists agreed they were more than 90 percent certain of it — to have been caused by increases in human-caused greenhouse emissions. These emissions increases, the IPCC said, “are due primarily” to fossil fuels, with land-use change “providing another significant but smaller contribution.”

And 2008? Well, as James Hansen points out, 2008 was indeed a cool year, with preliminary estimates putting it as the coolest since 2000. But overall:

… 2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880 … [and] the ten warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008.

It’s no wonder that Ebell said he hopes a West Virginia judge sends Hansen to jail for his arrest in a mountaintop removal protest. (The exact quote: I’m just hoping there is some good old judge in whatever county that is that will not take a liking to Dr. Hansen and throw the book at him).

But like Rick Wilson wrote recently in a Gazette commentary, “You can put Galileo under house arrest, but you can’t stop the earth from moving.”

37 Responses to “Inside coal industry meeting: Global warming just a scare”

  1. Nanette says:

    Thanks Ken for filling us in on the spoiled rotten soup that the industry is spewing. For those of us who have been fighting the anti science crowd this is no surprise. They would love nothing more than for some WV judge to throw Dr. Hansen under some jail and just leave him there.

    Thanks for reporting the behind the scenes antics of the coal crowd!

  2. Clem Guttata says:

    This is as fascinating as it is disturbing and (unfortunately) unsurprising.

    I’ve got a longer reaction here:

    The short version is: we’re all in big trouble if the science used to build coal mines and coal ash impoundments is on as shaky ground as the presenter’s understanding of global climate change.

    It’s also an argument against spending billions on CCS research. If the coal industry can’t accept an overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, how can they deal with advanced technology required for CCS?

    Until they get past their self-delusion, these new technologies may just be beyond their intellectual capacity.

  3. Thomas Rodd says:

    Good points, Clem. From what I see lately, there are lots of serious engineering and policy people who appear to be pushing harder for CCS than many coal owners/mining companies are.

    The policy wonks who like CCS see the issue as planetary survival. But to some coal owners and companies focused on their short-term bottom line, CCS is a kind of political cover that they can refer to, but ideally will never have to deliver on.

  4. Kosh says:

    I wonder if anyone mentioned in the article will accually read it. I bet they hang on every word “The Evil Ken Ward” has to say. Keep fighting the good fight Ken!

  5. Phil Smith says:

    Clem: Your statement that the sham science being presented to these people is “an argument against spending billions on CCS research” is logically flawed and just wrong. You’re essentially saying that if these folks buy into this then they don’t have the intellectual capability to handle CCS technology.

    Logically speaking, just because A=B and B=C, that does not mean that A=C. To argue that way and present it as fact makes one no better than those who argue that the earth is not warming.

    That’s like me saying that since you’re against CCS funding, you’re for the destruction of the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds’ medical and pension benefits to tens of thousands of retired miners and widows in West Virginia. Without CCS there may not be a very large coal industry a few decades from now (A=B) and without a healthy coal industry that there won’t be much money going into the UMWA H&R Funds (B=C). So, therefore, if I assert that A=C, you must want to end health care and pension benefits.

    Many responsible people and leaders within the coal industry, including many who are employed by coal and power companies, understand very well the need for CCS and are more than intelligent enough to understand how to deal with advanced technology.

    The UMWA certainly understands that CCS is the long-term future of coal.

  6. steve walker says:

    Ken, I figured your write up of this meeting would be like this..did we attend the same talk?…you sure “cherry picked” to get what you wanted to convey according to your bias..

  7. Clem Guttata says:

    Phil — I believe that ultimately the success or failure of CCS relies as much on the honesty and integrity of those who establish and operate the facilities that sequester the carbon as it does on any technological innovation. The really hard problems to solve are human ones. How can we trust mining companies to setup green house gas storage systems that will last for centuries?

    Starting from that assumption, the motives and world-view of those running CCS facilities matters. If they view the carbon sequestration standards as just one more government regulation to live just within the letter of–and cut as many corners as possible around–rather than an important component of keeping our planet hospitable for generations to come, that is a worrisome basis for the future of coal (and addressing global climate change).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the level of precision required for centuries of storage orders of magnitude beyond what is currently in place in mining operations that pump CO2 into geological formations? (By precision I mean, making sure any leakage is more like 0.001% per year instead of whatever it is now.)

    Also, if future payments from the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds’ for medical and pension benefits are dependent on contributions from future coal jobs, that’s a major issue. Coal jobs are quite likely to decline faster than medical and pension benefits do. I highly recommend you look somewhere other than CCS to solve that problem.

    If I was a UMWA lobbyist I would be lobbying hard for a cut on the carbon cap-and-trade auction proceeds. I’m fully supportive of that idea–I think there is a very strong economic justice argument for that claim. And, in the long run, it is a far more viable funding stream.

  8. Clem Guttata says:

    Steve Walker — What else can you add about the meeting? Did anyone challenge the statements made by Myron Ebell or Bill Raney? Was there an extended debate about the accuracy of their claims? Is it a fair characterization that the majority of attendees agree with their statements? Do you?

    If Ken Ward, Jr. didn’t get it right, what was the session really about? What else happened that might have been newsworthy?

  9. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Mr. Walker,

    I’d love to see your answers to Clem’s questions.

    Moreover, isn’t it important to start the discussion with the beginning of Ebell’s argument: That he doesn’t believe the science that shows the world is warming and coal is part of the cause?

    In addition — I’ve love to see the UMWA’s spokesman (Coal Tattoo reader Phil Smith) state publicly here that the mine workers does not agree with what Mr. Ebell had to say about the science of climate change … Phil?


  10. Thomas Rodd says:

    Anti-CCS arguments often seem to me to be just that — arguments, of whatever sort, used to buttress a position, sort of like in a debate format.

    It’s possible to try a different approach.

    First, consider the fact that large numbers of well-motivated, honest people who have extraordinary levels of training and expertise — not coal owners or coal industry people — have concluded that CCS is probably feasible, albeit costly, and quite possibly necessary to save civilization.

    Second, consider whether these people may well have a point and perspective that is worth respecting. In fact, given the inherent uncertainties in these areas, they may even be “right,” whatever that may mean.

    Third, think about whether polarizing the discussion about CCS, by taking an argumentative, debate-style approach helps build the consensus among wildly divergent interests that will be necessary to address climate change.

  11. Rick Wilson (not the one referenced in this article) says:

    Mr. Ward,

    Perhaps your faith in Dr James Hansen is misplaced, in light of the two significant temperature record errors that his organization has been forced to correct (in 2007 for US temp record; in 2008 for global temp record). See details in this link:

    If Dr. Hansen’s temperature record data has been shown twice recently to have serious flaws (and those flaws conveniently overstated the temperature record), how reliable is any data from Hansen?

    Additionally, if Dr. Hansen is to be believed as an unbiased climate science expert, what is he doing on the celebrity arrest circuit at a mountaintop mine in WV?

    Obviously Hansen has an agenda that goes beyond science.

  12. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    (the other) Rick Wilson,

    That’s nonsense … those claims about problems with Hansen’s temperature records have been debunked years ago … see:

    Joe Romm’s must-read climate blog also explains why the NASA data is good:


  13. (the other) Rick Wilson says:

    Mr. Ward,

    My previous comment was not nonsense.

    1. I said that “… significant temperature record errors that his organization has been forced to correct (in 2007 for US temp record; …” The first web link that you included in your response comment contains on that web page the following quote: “The flaw did have a noticeable effect on mean U.S. temperature anomalies, as much as 0.15°C, as shown in Figure 1 below (for years 2001 and later, and 5 year mean for 1999 and later).” Thus what I said was accurate – Hansen and his GISS staff did introduce a significant overstatement error (0.15 degC in a 5-year mean) into their reporting of the US temperature record. Hansen/GISS did correct that error after it was brought to their attention by global warming skeptics.

    2. I said that “… significant temperature record errors that his organization has been forced to correct (… in 2008 for global temp record).” Again, what I said was accurate – Hansen/GISS did introduce a significant overstatement error (in their original October 2008 data) for their reporting of the global temperature record. Hansen/GISS also corrected that error after it was brought to their attention by global warming skeptics. Documentation of this may be viewed at:

    This error occurred as a result of lack of data checking by some combination of NWS, NOAA and GISS, as per the admission of Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller from GISS in this link:

    By the way, thanks for my new nickname “(the other) Rick Wilson”. I kinda like it.

  14. Anonymouse says:

    This is to Phil Smith who, based on existing evidence and a basic analysis of trends related to coal production, perhaps unwittingly contradicted himself. In stating that to support CCS is to support the long-term viability of the coal miner’s health care benefits and pensions because it would ensure that the coal industry would remain healthy for decades to come, he is in actuality supporting the accelerated decline of the coal mining industry.

    I have written extensively as to why this is true, and so rather than re-hashing it all, I refer everyone to my comments on an earlier post regarding the climate bill.

    Phil, after reading my comments on that post, all of which are backed up by citations to federal studies, please clarify if you would how supporting CCS (A) will result in a healthy coal industry for far into the future (B) and thus the sustainability of health benefits and worker pensions for your members (C).

    It seems obvious to me based on existing evidence that supporting CCS is actually detrimental to your ability to protect miners’ health benefits and pensions. In which case, is it not your duty to reform your position to better reflect the interests of your members?

    Finally, in case anyone has missed it, coal’s share of the nation’s electricity portfolio dropped to 43.7% in April, and stands at an average of 46.1% for the year (not 52%, Steve). The April percentage is down from 48.9% in January, and from 48.4% during April of 2008. Source:

    Though you have to do your own calculations. 43.7% though, I wonder when the last time that happened was.

    So, Steve, Phil, if you have any thoughts I’m sure everyone would greatly appreciate hearing from industry on these issues.

  15. Thomas Rodd says:

    I just went back and read an earlier lengthy post, referenced above, that heavily criticized what the post called the “laughably mis-named” Waxman-Markey “climate bill.” There’s a lot of good information in the post. But something was lacking — from my personal blog reader/poster perspective.

    I did not see any acknowledgment that others with good intentions, training, and experience, might reasonably come to other conclusions. I did not see a plausible explanation of why a wide range of the best advocates for climate policy — people with world-class knowledge and expertise — strongly support the bill.

    How much value is there, really, in telling readers that one has it all figured out, and then just piling up arguments for your side of a debate? What I liked about Rick Wilson’s op-ed and related writings is that he sees that there is a lot that is uncertain, and that there are good people on all sides who have something useful to say.

    This may be suggesting that dialogue, not debate, is more useful on many issues. At least in one’s mind, one could try beginning posts with — “I see what you mean, and you are probably right about . . ..” What a discipline that would be! Is that kind of stuff even allowed on teh Intertubes?

  16. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Tom makes a great point … I wish everyone who reads and comments on Coal Tattoo (myself included) would strive to do this.

    I find it hard to do — when you walk into a room full of folks who, no matter how hard the scientific evidence is, simply won’t consider the reality of global warming, it’s hard to know where to start. Same goes with folks on the other side sometimes.

    In this instance, for example — TONS of really smart people think that CCS is the only way coal is going to survive. That includes folks from MIT, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the IPCC, and now the National Academy of Sciences.

    I think the state of the science is that no one knows if this stuff will work — let alone when it might work or how much it might cost. But it appears to me that the scientific consensus is that it’s the only answer for coal.


  17. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    (the other) Rick Wilson:

    In the spirit of my above comment, let me give this another shot.

    I believe you’ve done with I like to refer to in journalism as “having all your facts right, but not having all the right facts.”

    One can list facts that are provable and true, but at the same time leave out other facts that change the conclusion that should be drawn.

    In this instance, you are correct that Hansen has corrected the GISS data. But, your comments aside, I think it’s pretty clear that those corrections do not change the bottom line of the data — or the fact that the world is getting warmer.

    The IPCC says so. So do academies of science from all over the world.

    It’s a common tactic by climate deniers to pick one little fact that is correct by itself, but misses the big picture. That’s what, in my view, you have done.

    You’re welcome to your own view on that, of course. But as best I can tell, the scientific consensus is that you’re wrong.

    Thanks for taking part, and I’m glad you like the nickname.


  18. Anonymouse says:

    If CCS is the only answer for coal, and if it proves to be too costly, too uncertain, too slow in developing, and to result in a more rapid depletion of existing coal reserves, then my question is, why would anyone in their right mind support coal anymore? And just like the climate debate, the evidence against coal is out there and well-understood, no matter how many times the detractors try to pretend that up is down and coal is green.

    In Kentucky, MACED showed that the state gives more money to the coal industry than it receives in return. Michael Hendryx of WVU showed that 1) folks living in the coalfields are more likely to have shorter life spans and face a greater risk of cancer, and 2) that the increased deaths related to coal has a greater economic impact than the industry contributes to West Virginia’s economy. Numerous federal studies show that Central Appalachian coal can only be maintained at current production levels for one to two decades, and that’s without adding the additional demand pressures due to the inefficiencies of CCS.

    The federal Environmental Protection Agency has shown that over 20,000 people in our nation die prematurely every year due to air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The OSM found that the WV DEP is unable to regulate reclamation – I think they’ve done that two or three times now. Studies are showing that coal slurry contaminates drinking water.

    Rivers and creeks run orange from acid mine drainage. Ecosystems are being destroyed, communities are being forced out of their homes (Rest in Peace, Lindytown). The once mighty United Mine Workers are now a mere lapdog for the coal industry, rather than its greatest watchdog.

    History is being threatened with obliteration (hold on Blair Mountain, stay with us!). Electricity from coal is no longer cheap, and never will be again, and that’s without the additional costs of cap and trade or CCS. Schools are being consolidated, the family fabric degraded, drug use in the coalfields is running rampant, politicians are handcuffed from doing anything useful due to coal’s influence, company CEO’s are corrupting the judicial system, and the global climate is being thrown out of whack…..all because of coal. And West Virginia is taking hit after hit for its backward and illogical ways — and its not the citizens who are backward, its the leadership. Anyone remember “we should have higher water pollution limits because we eat less fish?” I wonder why we eat less fish, could it be because the creeks are orange? Or perhaps because the fish have three eyes? Or, is it that we can’t find them anymore? Thanks for making West Virginia the laughing stock of the national regulatory field, DEP. Lets not forget who signed those orders though Manchino.

    What’s strikes me is that we are even talking about CCS….that is the saddest thing of all. We’re discussing the fate of coal based on whether or not an inefficient, costly, unproven, and slooooowly developing technology is given massive amounts of subsidies in order to remain a viable option and play a limited role in reducing our nation’s carbon emissions….really?

    It seems the only conversation that we should be having is how to prevent all of the negative impacts of coal from ever happening again, to realize that the only way to do so is to move away from coal, and to begin putting our thoughts, words, money and energy into developing truly clean alternatives.

    Does anyone know why the Mad Hatter is mad? And this relates directly to history, and to a side-effect of coal I forgot to mention – mercury emissions and the neurological diseases they cause in developing children who drank mercury-contaminated breast milk.

    According to Jeff Goodell, author of “Big Coal, ” In the 19th century mercury salts were used to make felt for hats. Hatters who breathed mercury fumes all day often acquired a condition known as ‘hatter’s shakes,’ which left them mumbling and quivering (hence the phrase “mad as a hatter”).

    Lay off the coal. And not because CCS is a miserable idea, but because coal is. The conversation doesn’t even need to go further than that.

  19. Anonymouse says:

    I forgot to add, “lest we’re left mumbling and quivering.” Which I believe we’re dangerously close to anyhow.

  20. Thomas Rodd says:

    Anonymouse– would you be willing to devote some energy to answering your own rhetorical question as to why people in their right mind think coal will be an important global energy source for a long time. And can you offer your explanation of why so many climate policy people think Waxman-Markey is a very good bill?

  21. Anonymouse says:

    Mr. Rodd, I believe that your question deserves a more substantial answer, but for now all I can offer is this: I believe that people in their right mind thins coal will be an important energy source for a long time for the single fact that it will. To say that it won’t be is being naive, and nothing I stated suggests that i don’t believe coal will be a significant ‘global’ energy source.

    However, nationally, I believe, as I think many others believe, that coal as a significant national energy source will not last very long. Whether or not enough people believe that, in my opinion, rests on whether or not they are aware of the research and information available to them regarding the production, productivity, costs, and energy return on investment related to coal.

    Sort of a case-in-point: Coal as a share of the nation’s electricity portfolio has dropped 5% in a single year. Natural gas is the favored fuel. Not that I’m a big fan of natural gas either, but I doubt that many folks believing coal has a bright future understand the energy market either.

    Finally, there are various reasons people think Waxman-Markey is a good bill. One may be that they truly believe it offers a strong solution for solving climate change. Those of more experience and knowledge would say otherwise.

    Some may think that the bill is necessary in order to get the process moving, to get ‘something’ passed. Others would say we’re stalling, we’re failing, we’re giving too much to coal, too much to CCS, not enough to real solutions, etc. Those others would look at the G8 conference and slam the world’s leaders for thinking we can limit temperature increases (rather than limiting what we can control, carbon).

    Some may support the bill because they believe it is good for coal (Boucher). Some because they like the name “Waxman-Markey,” who knows.

    Your comment assumes, however, that a vast number of voters, politicians, scientists, journalists, etc., think coal is a good idea, or that it has a bright future, or that Waxman-Markey is a good bill.

    I would argue that there is no way to measure how many believe which, or actually care, and that those of us who actually know what we’re talking about should not be trying to leave the topic to debate when the evidence tells us that we’re right.

    Here’s a test: How many out there know anything about federal agricultural bills? Any idea what their impact on national agriculture production will be? Further, how many readers out there understand where the sulfur and nitrogen used to grow the nation’s food in the heartland comes from? Do you think it’s sustainable? Do you think it’s inexhaustible? Do you believe that it has little impact on the environment? If the issue was a big agricultural bill that did little for the small farmer but provided heavy subsidies that would further entrench our dependency on corporate farming rather than decentralizing our food production and thus reducing the environmental impact of such, how many out there would know how to feel about such a bill? And remember, this question is just as important as the climate bill question, we’re talking about the vast portion of the food that feeds this nation, and food, unlike electricity, is actually required for human survival (as is water, but that’s another topic).

    Why would people in their right mind support such a bill? Why would they believe that corporate food production is going to provide the vast majority of our food forever? My answer, because they don’t know any better.

    They don’t know that the greatest source of phosphorous, an exhaustible resource, comes from strip-mines in Florida, and that studies estimate that that resource will only last 20-30 more years, and that our nation’s food production depends on the fertilizers that come from that exhaustible research. They don’t know the environmental impacts left behind from the mine tailings resulting from the mining of phosphorous, or the groundwater loss and contamination issues. They don’t know.

    However, by engaging in a conversation that won’t get us anywhere, that diverts attention away from the real issues related to coal or our food production, and that provides the impetus for saying we should even be considering ways to continue being dependent on coal given all that we know – you and I – or on corporate food production, or any other life-support system that is doomed to failure….is dangerous. It is faulty, it is short-sighted, and it is a compromise, and compromises never end up getting us where we need to be.

    here’s a link to the article about phosphorous:

    Main point, to reiterate: People who don’t understand the issue need to be educated, and they need to be educated by the people who DO understand the issue, and for those who understand the issue, that should be our central focus. Not engaging in a failed conversation, but making sure that other’s don’t fall into the same trap.

  22. Clem Guttata says:

    Thomas — I realize you addressed your question to Anonymouse, but I want to jump in on your second question. (I have a number of ideas on the first question, too, but that’ll have to wait for another day. :-)

    I think there are few “climate policy people” who think Waxman-Markey is a “very good bill.” My sense is, most think it is a mediocre bill. All the talk I remember hearing from “climate policy people” when it passed was about how to get the Senate to strengthen it.

    I can think of a number of major areas that should be improved. Off the top of my head, they include:
    – allow EPA to regulate greenhouse gases;
    – have more aggressive short and long term green house gas reduction targets;
    – have 100% auctions;
    – allocate some auction proceeds to target economic development in areas like Appalachia hardest hit by transition;
    – make biofuels and CCS funding performance-based, not guaranteed.

    There’s quite a few small details that look like a mess, too, but the details quickly get overwhelming. Besides, the Senate is yet to get its hands all over the bill, though, so there’s no telling what it’ll look like in a few months.

    At least one major environmental organization (and several liberal Dem. Reps.) opposed the final House vote, saying no action is better than such a watered down bill. Many others (myself included) think it is a political compromise with lots of really bad parts but still worth doing.

  23. (the other) Rick Wilson says:

    Mr. Ward,

    Gee, I’m not sure which is worse — to be called a speaker of nonsense or a climate denier who is unable to logically sort out salient facts. So much for the kinder, gentler Ken!

    Allow me to assure you that I am not a “climate denier”, at least not in the literal sense of the words. Climate is very real, and climate change, historic, near-term future and long-term future, is very real. The fact that the world is getting warmer in recent time does appear to be real in light of all the data that we currently have. The salient question is this – is the science “settled” that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary driving force behind the recent increased global temperature trend? The IPCC thinks so, many highly qualified scientists think so, many politicians think so, and you and Dr. Hansen think so. And many other highly qualified scientists think not.

    I admit that I do not know. My personal belief is that there is insufficient evidence at this time to radically restructure the energy production of this nation and the world, and in the process significantly disrupt and damage national economies across the globe, solely on the basis of the climate data at hand. I absolutely want significant additional scientific research to proceed on the matter of global climate change and the currently favored THEORY that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary driving force behind the recent increased global temperature trend.

    As best as I can tell, there is insufficient evidence to justify the staggering global cost of Kyoto/Copenhagen/Cap & Trade at this time. Let’s make sure beyond any reasonable doubt that “all the right facts” of climate change are known and properly understood.

    And thanks for the opportunity to participate in this Blog.

    P.S. I reserve the right to give you a nickname in the future. :)

  24. eastwood78 says:

    Coal mining will have a part to play in the future of global warming. Coal Miners will have no fear of losing their jobs in the very near future. The UMWA is down right now, but it will survive, and could rise again to be the powerful union it once was. Mr. Smith states that the UMWA miners health benefits and pensions would suffer great damage if A=C. Come now, Mr. Smith, did not the great President of the UMWA (John L. Lewis) sign a contract with President Truman’s administration that said that the UMWA coal miners would have health benefit coverage from the cradle to the grave? Will the United States Government renege on this contract? I see where Ken requested Mr. Smith to answer a question, but so far he has not replied. Either you is for something, or you is against something. You can’t have it both ways. Good reporting Ken. Good truthful reporting. Thanks for keeping us informed of the truth.

  25. Thomas Rodd says:

    I think WM is a very good climate bill because it could pass the House and puts in place a real cap and trade system. It could be improved, I agree with Clem. And I’m glad to see Anonymouse agrees that coal will continue to be important globally. That fact, and the need to bring US coal interests in the USA into the climate policy circle, are for me the key reasons to support funding for CCS. What a discussion!

  26. Scott 14 says:

    Nice discussion, I would like to add that just because the Cap and tax bill has a chance of becoming law doesn’t mean that mining coal is over. A friend of mine from Canada who works in the oil sands mines, said recently when some enviromental movement tried to stop US oil companys from importing their syn-crude. “We don’t care if you buy it or not, the Chinese will” Thats the way the App coal fields will be, the Chinese or the Indians or Europe or Africa, somebody that doesnt have a cap and tax law will import our product. Like it or not.

  27. Anonymouse says:

    I have two questions in response. Why do we need to bring U.S. coal interests in the USA into the climate policy circle? Is it because they are so adept at watering down any meaningful climate bill, and we need them to stop doing that in order to avoid failing in our efforts to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change? You may succeed in bringing the wolf to the table, but then, you’ve invited a wolf to the table, and its still a wolf, with wolf interests.

    Bringing the coal industry into the climate policy circle is not what we need. It results in compromise, as we’ve seen. It results in giving hand outs, compensation, even as the rest of us are still paying for the clean-up from underground and surface coal mines, restoration of unreclaimed mine sites, higher health insurance bills in areas with higher incidence of asthma….it seems like we already give the coal industry enough leeway by not requiring them to really pay for the mess they leave behind.

    If you were to punch me repeatedly, and I ended up having to go to the hospital and paying for my own hospital bills, but first I had to pay you to stop punching me?? No offense, but give me a break.

    Second, the cap and trade system WM would put in place cannot be qualified as a ‘real’ cap and trade system. Perhaps a ‘shell’ of a cap and trade sytem, with lots of cracks and holes. Can we expect that the Senate is going to fix those? Not likely, but perhaps history will rewrite itself this time.

    Third, China is moving forward with CCS without us, so why do we need to continue supporting R&D?? Do we think China is incapable of developing CCS on its own? Because that would be condescending. Because we want to export the technology? Again, I doubt they’re really gonna need us there. Lets be a leader in renewable technology instead if we’re gonna put our money into anything. Let’s help the ‘real’ developing countries.

    I’m not saying all of this to be confrontational, I truly believe I’m the only one being realistic in this discussion, and I realize how that makes me appear. But come on, leave the wolf outside. They’ve slaughtered enough hens, let them learn to survive on their own. We already know what they’re gonna say, wasn’t that the original intent of this blog? To expose their general comments about climate? Think they’re gonna put much effort into really taking a crack at CCS? Think they’re gonna pay for it? Think they’re gonna do it right?

    Not likely. But go ahead, invite em, I’d advise you to prepare for disappointment. Unless of course you can give me one single example of when the coal industry did anything out of a sense of community (and I dont mean giving out fire trucks at christmas).

  28. Red Desert says:


    I agree with Clem of WVBlue. Waxman-Markey is a compromise bill, not a very good bill, and that’s the way most commentators refer to it. It does have some very good parts. However, the best parts don’t seem to be the cap and trade parts.


    You’re on to something. Get specific about what needs to be strengthened in W-M. I don’t think 100% auction is necessary (would be nice, but not necessary for emissions reductions). We can give that up. I would add to your list, too many offsets and better regulation of offsets is needed. The indirect effects of biofuel production must be included. Yes on performance based credits–whatever it takes to reduce actual emissions (fuel changes, efficiency or CCS) get the extra allowances or funding. We can’t allow emissions in one sector to grow (coal) just because other sectors are cutting back.

    We have to draw the line in the sand with W-M or pull the plug on support. Otherwise, we end up with something like SMRCA. How did that control surface mining?

    Great posts anonymouse. I had a wolf at a dinner party recently (along with Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace–the wolf was the only happy camper). But that’s another story.

  29. Red Desert says:

    One other thing. Lots in industry wants W-M. Wall Street wants the trading, coal absolutely needs the regulatory certainty to get the Wall Street financing, nobody wants to deal with the much stricter state and local emissions requirements or with the EPA coming down on their heads with new source standards that can stop a project cold.

    The environmental community doesn’t have to cave, we can demand a stronger bill.

  30. Anonymouse says:

    “The environmental community doesn’t have to cave, we can demand a stronger bill.”


    I dont quite understand the reference to Joan and David Foster but I’ll be sure to look that up.

    I hope the wolf had good manners. I hear they tend to drool.

  31. Daniel says:


    With you last backhanded comment about the wolf at the dinner, you need to remember in a house full of hens and one wolf, who gets to decide what’s for dinner?

  32. Nanette says:

    Well I see that Steve Walker never did come back and explain his “cherry picking” comment. If Mr. Ward’s comments were not correct, or if there was something that Mr. Walker wanted to add, he sure didn’t do it. IMO that tells me that he was trying to accuse Mr. Ward of not representing all that happened in that meeting. Am I correct in my assumptions Mr. Walker? Would you please tell us what else was said in that meeting that you would like for us to know since you don’t think the meeting was reported fairly?

  33. Anonymouse says:

    Hahaha, well, first of all, Daniel. Apparently, the wolf is doing quite well for itself in influencing the menu, if the ACES bill provides any clue.

    And Red Desert, I was with ya, but then I lost ya. Maybe b/c its late.

  34. […] Blogs @ The Charleston Gazette – » Inside coal industry meeting: Global warming just a scare – view page – cached […]

  35. Stephanie says:

    I find it amazing that you have ANY faith whatsoever that our government is going to do anything productive about global warming. However, as you obviously do believe it, would one of you please tell me what you base your faith on? Name one, JUST ONE program that the government has introduced that worked FOR THE PEOPLE?

    I also found it amazing that you would comment on our food production. Our lands have been deplete of vital nutrients since the 1930’s. If you believe that the food on our shelves is nutritious then you must be one of the lucky one’s who have not experienced the autoimmune epidemic in your circle of family or friends. Oh yes, but the FDA is protecting us. Soy is in 60% of the products lining our shelves. Do you know anything about SOY? How about bioengineered foods? Who will not buy our grains now? Do you know why the honeybees are dying?

    You talk about the pollution from coal. Who is the watchdog? The EPA was formed when? So, why is there still pollution from coal? But, not to worry about the coal industry, we’ll most likely just ship it to China, which is really going to affect global warming for the positive.

    American’s must retrofit their homes before they can sell them? Well, since the banks are owning more and more homes, do you think we’ll bail them out when THEY must spend billions of dollars to retrofit all those homes, or will the government give them a “pass”?

    Have you been to the doctor lately? Anyone prescribed a “drug” approved by the FDA? Ever look up the side effects? Do you know what pharmaceutical companies are paying for what in our medical schools? Do you know at least eight drugs that doctors won’t take themselves?

    Has anyone lost a job from the great NAFTA promise? How many of our college graduates can’t find a job, yet, we’re still importing labor? Have you tried to find “Made in America” lately? Better make sure your kids have a second language because they’ll be headed for China to find a decent paying job,
    where they no doubt will be breathing air full of coal emissons.

    Exactly how long did it take for China, Russia, Brazil, Japan and the UK to basically “OWN” the U.S.? Well, I’m in debt to the bank and it “OWNS” my house. And yet, you still have faith. AMAZING!

    One last question. Now that they’ve spent billions of dollars to find water on the moon, will that be a way station for all the billionaires when they decide to leave this polluted hell they’ve created? I just wonder who their slaves will be then? Won’t be humans, we’ll all be too sick!

    P.S. I have doubts as to whether this will be posted because it asks practical questions (well for the most part) and it is not all about global warming. However, I do feel better for writing so I thank you for the opportunity.

  36. […] West Virginians to oppose the global warming bill. In fact, I ran into someone from ACCCE at that top secret coal industry meeting I crashed last week. ACCCE has been putting out West Virginia-specific press releases on these issues, and monitoring […]

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