Protesters to Tomblin: The ‘war on coal is a dirty lie’

October 24, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

I’m just back from the Capitol, where a couple of dozen citizens were trying to talk with West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin about the lack of focus by state officials on planning for the ongoing decline in the state’s coal industry.

Protesters, organized by the group Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), first knocked on the door of the governor’s mansion. A State Police trooper who answered the door declined to accept a letter to the governor, so the group walked next door to the Capitol. There, an aide at the governor’s office did accept their letter.  The group held up some signs, one protester sang a song, they talked to the media, and then they quietly left. There were a lot of troopers and Capitol police on hand, though, that’s for sure.

Here’s a bit of what the group said in its letter to the governor:

We know that you now find yourself in a difficult situation. You are in the pocket of a dying industry that has money to donate to your campaign, but has no long-term solutions to the immediate health, environmental, and jobs crisis that affect not just West Virginia, but the entire nation …

… You face a clear fork in the road if you are to win a new term as governor of this state. Do you continue to bow to the demands of a ruthless industry in decline, or do you enact solutions that address the coming dire economic reality of the people that live in the southern coalfields?

… Governor Tomblin, you know as well as we do that your War on Coal is a dirty lie. West Virginians are tired, misled, and divided by our political leaders … Governor, you are asking us for another 4 years. We are asking you, ‘What’s your plan?’ because we haven’t heard one that addresses the economic and health crisis in our communities …

Instead of confronting the very serious issues facing southern West Virginia, you have cynically exploited layoffs in the coal industry to boost your election chances. By fanning the flames of this supposed ‘war on coal’, not only have you lied to coal miners about the real reasons they are losing their jobs and created false hopes, you have increased divisions in our communities and helped incite violence against anti-MTR activists.

The letter urges Gov. Tomblin to create a non-partisan Citizens Advisory Council on Economic Diversification to advise his administration on a plan for the state to move forward. I’ve posted a copy of the letter here.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for a response … I’ll post whatever they have to say about this.

UPDATED: Here’s the response I received from Amy Shuler Goodwin in the governor’s office:

The governor had an event in Buckhannon late this morning so he did leave the mansion this morning a bit before 9:30am. We did receive the letter, however, the governor has not had a chance to review. I am having a copy sent to me now. In addition, we do have an open door policy here in the governor’s office and will be happy to review the upcoming calendar.

Governor Tomblin has been clear, as have several federal judges, on the overreaching demands of the EPA from this administration. Governor Tomblin’s primary focus has always been job preservation and job creation. Governor Tomblin believes strongly that West Virginia coal and natural gas play a critical role in energy independence–and he will continue to fight for those industries and the jobs they create.

36 Responses to “Protesters to Tomblin: The ‘war on coal is a dirty lie’”

  1. Robin Blakeman says:

    Thanks so much for raising the issue of this very untrue and misleading campaign slogan. There is NO war on coal!! There is, however, a war on Central Appalachian citizens’ health and surface owner rights. There is also blatant negligence in terms of planning for a future where coal will be obsolete due to economic and environmental forces (NOT due to actions of the current president, however).

  2. Steve says:

    Just because coal is going thru a downturn due to competition does not mean the industry is not simultaneously enduring a war upon it started by the president who out-rightly claim that building a coal fired power plant in the future will cause bankruptcy. And heres a suggestion to the protesters. Quit relying on the government to create something for you. Instead of standing behind a sign asking government for a “plan”, get out from behind that sign, create an idea, create a business to make southern west Virginia thrive, mortgage your house for the seed capital and get to it.

  3. Bob Kincaid says:


    Ken has done a very good job of debunking the “go bankrupt” talking point you’ve just repeated. I suggest you look back into the Coal Tattoo archives and find out what that utterly misapplied quote refers to.

    Moreover, why do coal supporters so fear a group of young people exercising their First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of a grievance? We do have a right to know, don’t we, whether the governor has any more of an economic plan than “Mine, baby, mine”?

  4. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Just for the record, here’s the story, from 4 years ago, about how President Obama’s comments are taken out of context:

  5. Renee Bolden says:

    Unsure why Ken thinks he has to tell us what the President really meant, when we have all heard, many times, exactly what he said. It seems as thought the Charleston Gazette is a very liberal newspaper in supporting Obama in West Virginia, a state that is clearly Coal Country. Ken is not the only journalist who tries to tell us, “Oh, that’s what the President said, but that’s not what he meant.”

    With that being said, West Virginia does need some diversity in industry. Charleston has ignored southern West Virginia, and by southern, I mean McDowell and Wyoming counties. We have no roads leading into these 2 counties. Unless we have some roads, we can not build anything sustainable. I would like the governor to get that done and give us some hope for our future in southern West Virginia.

    Until then, we need and depend on coal, whether it is a underground mine or strip mining. I’m not sure where all these “studies” have taken place. I have personally never seen any children with birth defects or more people having cancer here than anywhere else in the nation. I grew up below an old sleight dump and drank the water that flowed through it and I am perfectly fine. So, show me all the sick people, especially here in the coal fields. Yes, many people do have cancer; however, many people have cancer all over the nation.

  6. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Renee Bolden,

    Thanks for your comment … regarding whether I was trying to tell readers what President Obama said or what he meant … I was simply trying to point out what he SAID … critics have quoted only a portion of this comments.

    Here is a transcript:

    Chronicle: Senator, you introduced a bill promoting coal to liquid fuels, and then you said you’d only support them if they emitted fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline. Now, all of the scientific evidence supports to coal being dirtier than pretty much anything else. So how are you going to square your support for coal with the need to fight global warming?

    Obama: I’ve already done it. I voted against the Clear Skies bill, in fact I was the deciding vote, despite the fact that I’m a coal state and that half of my state thought I had thoroughly betrayed them, because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical.

    But this notion of no coal, I think is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal and China is building a coal power plant once a week. So what we have to do is we have to figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon, and how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then, we’re going to still be working on alternatives.

    Chronicle: Alternatives including coal?

    Obama: Let me kind of describe my overall policy. What I have said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody else’s out there.

    I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gas that is emitted would be charged to the polluter.

    That would create a market in which whatever technologies are out there being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market, and the ratcheted down caps that are imposed every year.

    So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it would bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

    That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing that I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. I have said that, for us to take coal off the table as an ideological matter, as opposed to saying that if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way we should pursue it, that I think is the right approach.

    The same with respect to nuclear. Right now we don’t know how to store nuclear waste wisely and we don’t know how to deal with some of the safety issues that remain. So it’s widely expensive to pursue nuclear energy. But I tell you what, if we could figure out how to store it safely, then I think most of us would say that might be a pretty good deal.

    The point is if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions, then we can allow the market to determine, and technology and entrepreneurs to pursue what is the best approach to take, as opposed to us saying at the outset, here are the winners that we’re picking, and maybe we pick wrong and maybe we pick right.


  7. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Also, you can read the birth defects study for yourself here:


  8. Renee Bolden says:

    The only thing this transcript does is enforce us to believe that he indeed has declared a war on coal. He says “I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gas that is emitted would be charged to the polluter.

    That would create a market in which whatever technologies are out there being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market, and the ratcheted down caps that are imposed every year.”

    Which means, you can mine coal and use coal, but we need technology to control it. Until then, however, he says “So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it would bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

    Not really sure how ANYONE could take that any other way than not wanting to use coal as an energy for a power plant. It’s very clear. And, that IS what he SAID.

    Which clearly means, any coal plants that will be built will be bankrupt, which is what he said.

  9. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    No, that’s not what he said … like others, you’re picking and choosing part of it to quote … this part is important and puts it in context:

    “But this notion of no coal, I think is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal and China is building a coal power plant once a week. So what we have to do is we have to figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon, and how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then, we’re going to still be working on alternatives.”

    Or, as I wrote previously:

    During a Jan. 17 interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board, an editorial writer noted that Obama co-sponsored a bill to encourage turning coal into liquid fuel for vehicles, an approach energy experts warn would likely create more greenhouse emissions than traditional gasoline. The editorial writer asked Obama how he squared his support for coal with the need to do something about climate change.
    Obama responded that the country needs to “figure out how we can use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon,” and that he believes a “cap-and-trade” emissions program is the best way to do that.
    Such a program would put an overall ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions. Companies would need “allowances” from regulators for every ton of carbon dioxide their facilities pump into the atmosphere. Companies could reduce their emissions to meet the caps. Or they could buy or trade for “allowances” to keep using older facilities.
    “That would create a market in which whatever technologies are out there being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market, and the ratcheted down caps that are imposed every year,” Obama told Chronicle editors. “So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it would bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

    The president is saying that if utilities won’t put CCS on new power plants, then the market will bankrupt them. It’s an important distinction.


  10. Renee Bolden says:

    Yes, Ken, I see the distinction. The bottom line is this: Obama said, “I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gas that is emitted would be charged to the polluter.”

    So, until the technologies come into place, coal is useless, as it would cost too much to use it because of Obama’s support of the cap and trade system.

    How come you don’t see that? As a journalist, you shouldn’t be so biased and only report the truth, not skew it to be of your opinion.

  11. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    One of the most sad things about all of this is that, prior to President Obama taking office, and climate legislation moving through the House, coal industry officials and especially coalfield politicians misled the public into thinking that “clean coal” (meaning with CCS) already existed … I’m thinking for instance of the Walker Machinery ads about coal being “carbon neutral.”

    All along, they knew that there were many hurdles facing CCS. I have written extensively on this blog and in the Gazette about those hurdles. For instance, this story:

    But almost universally, experts on this topic say that, without some federal legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, CCS simply isn’t going to happen. I’ve written extensively on that as well.

    The only chance coal has — if we are to protect our climate — is CCS.

    So folks who want to protect the coal industry would be most wise to focus on getting a carbon price so that the market will work.


  12. Ted Boettner says:

    It is important to remember that coal is not “dying”, but is in decline in southern West Virginia. Our projections from EIA show that production is falling to about 90 million tons by 2020 – where it pretty much stays until 2035 (the last year included in EIAs projections). The decline is in steam coal, whereas metallurgical coal (mostly in southern WV) is going to slightly increase over time. It is also true that future air pollution regulations (if implemented) will make WV steam coal less competitive with natural gas for electricity production and that more rigorousness review of surface mine permits could lower productivity and increase the cost of mining WV coal. That being said, these regulations will not change the fundamental structural decline in southern WV steam coal production. Even if Romney is elected and the state wins the “war on coal” against EPA regulations, it is not going to make the seams in WV any thicker and easier to mine, it will not stop production in the Powder River Basin, and it will not stop the rapid drilling of shale gas in WV and in other states. The real irony is that the abundance of shale gas reserves – located right here in WV – is the central culprit in reducing demand for WV steam coal production. It is a zero sum game, especially in a depressed economy.

    As we stated in our 2012 SWWV report, the state should be planning for the decline in production by putting together a task force on how counties and local communities are going to transition. The fall in production will greatly impact our state (and especially southern WV) in the form of lower coal severance taxes (which means less money for county budgets), lower property taxes (which means more state money being sent to these counties via school aid formula), and fewer jobs directly in coal mining and indirectly in the supply chains.

    No matter what happens in DC, we all need to come together to develop strategies that will make our state a better place to live, work, do business, and raise a family. But this first requires that we correctly identify what is driving the decline in coal production and plan rationally.

  13. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Great point, Ted. thanks for your comment.

  14. Shaun says:

    wvgagzette doing what it does best. Propaganda.

  15. Soyedina says:

    I would appreciate it if someone could outline for me just what exactly they believe Not-Obama could do to turn this scenario around in a way that would be favorable for Central Appalachian coal producers. I see only a few options but none of them are going to make a difference, as far as i can see…

    1) Not-Obama amends the Clean Air Act to strip regulation of CO2. As mentioned in this article, not likely to happen since this requires a 60 vote majority in the Senate.

    2) Not-Obama defunds the EPA or whatever the buzzword for deregulating water quality protections from coal mining, so that any coal company could get any permit they wanted at any time. Wouldn’t this simply drive the price of coal further into the basement by oversupply? When coal stockpiles are already over the five year average I can’t see this doing much to create mining jobs

    3) I don’t really see a third option, but I suppose Not-Obama could tax everything but coal, or something. I don’t know, just looking for Shaun or someone else who knows this situation so well to paint us a picture of what exactly Not-Obama plans to do that is going to make any difference whatsoever.

  16. Ted Boettner says:

    It has been my experience that you cannot find solutions to problems without first identifying the potential causes. For example, we all agree that the state has a major problem with substance abuse – especially in southern West Virginia. Why do we think this is a problem? Because it has been identified and documented. This is what led the Governor to establish his Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and why he is working with local communities who are on the front lines of fighting this epidemic. This is the kind of rational behavior that is needed.

    Imagine if the Governor announced a similar plan to address the impact of declining coal in southern West Virginia. Imagine if he appointed an advisory board and held meetings across the southern coalfields over the next 12 months with local EDAs, county commissions, chambers of commerce, foundations, and community members about how the state could plan for a soft landing instead of hard landing. Perhaps at the end of the 12 months a report could be compiled with recommendations for the legislature to consider. For example, the state could create a “coalfield transition and revitalization fund” that would help provide grants and loans to entrepreneurs who start businesses or it could provide transition assistance (college tuition assistance) to miners who are laid off that want to remain in their communities. However, this won’t happen until stop putting all of our focus on the “war on coal” and we put that energy into solving the real problems facing southern WV. While it won’t be easy, and there are no silver bullets, we have much to gain and very little to lose by trying. (for a decent example of state doing something similar, see the “No Worker Left Behind” program from Michigan)

  17. Renee Bolden says:

    Ted, you have a great idea. In the meantime, however, how will people survive?

    The people in McDowell and Wyoming counties have already been left behind.Someone should have addressed that situation long ago. I’m not sure why it happened. I do know, however, that we need businesses here, and to have businesses, we need roads. The King Coal Highway and the Coalfield Expressways both stop at the Mercer and Raleigh county lines. Both of those counties have highways already. Does anyone know why we can’t get these roads into these counties? Maybe then, more businesses would want to set up shop here.

  18. Ted Boettner says:


    You bring up excellent points regarding McDowell and Wyoming counties and good infrastructure (sewers, roads, bridges, broadband, parks, etc.) are a very important foundation for creating a sustainable and health economy. In the short-term, workers who are laid off can collect unemployment insurance ( i know this isn’t a lot of money, probably about $425 a week for a coal miner, but its not nothing). We’ve been pushing the idea for the state to create a work sharing program where employers can reduce hours (supplemented by UI benefits) instead of laying off workers that the legislature could pass in 2013. That said, I think the more conversations and ideas we can put together the better off we will be.

  19. PJD says:


    Thanks for the article from four years ago.

    I found it stunning that, as compromised as he sounded to me regarding strong action on AGW four years ago (I voted for Nader), he would sound positively radical if he took such his position of four years ago now.

    While there is indeed no “War on Coal”, I believe that we do need a war on coal and other fossil fuels. Anyone with young children should understand this. Cap and trade is proving to be a failure, so we instead need a carbon tax imposed at the tipple and wellhead. The proceeds would go to alternate energy and transportation and tax cuts to wage earners.

    Yes, some West Virginians will face economic displacement, and will have to take up another occupation in another state as a result, but who doesn’t have to deal with these kinds of things at least once in their lives? The old homestead will still be there. I’ve moved to three different states (and one other country) and changed occupations three times in response to various economic forces over my working life.

  20. Renee Bolden says:

    PJD, it would not just be some West Virginians facing economic displacement, it would be entire counties. That is what most people do not understand about the “War on Coal”.

  21. Soyedina says:

    OK Renee, will you please take a shot at answering my questions?

    Just what do you expect Not-Obama to do? I have outlined the only two possible options I see and explained why they will do little or nothing to alleviate the economic difficulties faced by these communities, no matter who is President. What is it that you would like to see happen? Specifics please, I am in total agreement with you about the need for diversification, etc., that is not the question.

    If “Obama has a war on coal” and we get Not-Obama for President, aren’t we going to see Not-Obama accused of waging a war on coal within a few months?

  22. Renee Bolden says:

    OK, Soyedina, I have a question for you. Why are you so pro-Obama?

    Romney has many times came to coal country to say that he will fight for coal. Obama has not even been here to West Virginia. The problem is not a demand for coal, as China wants our coal, as the President himself stated. The problem is the EPA. Right now, they do not want us to mine coal, as there have been all these studies. (Which I don’t trust as all conditions are not factored into these people that the studies have been done one). In the near future, they will not want gas companies to frack. (They’re are studies already stating the dangers of fracking).

    The economic difficulties in the area that I live in is nothing new. We always live in an economic difficulty. When someone closes the door on coal, then we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. You come on down to southern West Virginia and live for awhile. Maybe, then you will understand.

    So, to answer your question, this whole cap and trade thing needs to be redone or done away with until the technology to use “clean coal” is in place. You can’t bankrupt the coal companies and power companies and expect coal to succeed. That’s common sense.

  23. Soyedina says:

    I believe in tit for tat, so even though you don’t provide much in the way of specifics, to answer your question, I am not pro-Obama at all.

    The problem absolutely is “the demand for coal”. As I linked, coal stockpiles at power plants are at a 5 year high. That reduces demand.

    If EPA didn’t hold up coal permits for a nanosecond, this wouldn’t change. In fact, there would be an even less demand for steam coal at american power plants, if production was absolutely unbridled. The market has a way of resolving these issues with or without regulations. Ken has linked to folks who have looked at this that have suggested that increased Appalachian coal field regulations have actually increased total coal employment, so your narrative of “get the EPA off our backs” is short on facts.

    Whether you “trust” these studies or not is absolutely irrelevant, as is the question of whether I “trust” these studies. The important question is “If there is something wrong with these analyses, why has the coal industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars on PR campaigns instead throwing a couple thousand at a grad student or academic to demonstrate these flaws in the only place where it counts: the scientific peer-reviewed literature”. The absence of any such response is evidence, in this case. But, the public relations campaign looks great! PR firms provide jobs too, I am well aware.

    Please don’t patronize me about “coming down to southern West Virginia” and living for a while. I have asked you for specifics on what you would like to see Not-Obama do and you have not provided any (Cap and Trade didn’t happen) outside of these bald assertions that are simply contrary to the facts.

  24. Soyedina says:

    I should add that it’s also silly to imagine that coal producers can export themselves back into high employment, since exports are about 10% of the annual production in recent years and any gains in exports are roughly offset by losses in production due to reduced demand.

    Still looking for specific plans that you believe Not-Obama will put into play to increase Appalachian coal employment, or alternatively that you recognize that Not-Obama will be accused of waging a “war on coal” in a few short months and all this will have been one long silly exercise in political character assassination.

  25. coalguy says:

    I like the fact that the conversation here has brought out some good points and I would like to express my opinion on a few of the things discussed.
    1. I don’t understand how anyone can say the president did not say “go bankrupt”. While it is technically correct, what he did say is that he would set up a carbon credit program that would reduce carbon credits so much that the cost of buying carbon credits would bankrupt any company building a coal plant. Same thing. Same result. “Go Bankrupt” He said it and he means it.
    2. President Obama and his EPA have created more anti-coal regulations than any other adminstration I have witnessed in 30 years in the industry. Most of the regulation ceated by the current EPA is so badly implemented that the courts have thrown them out. Sounds like a “war on Coal” especially to those of us in the industry.
    3. Soyedina – you ask what a not-Obama administration would do for the industry. Well, first, it couldn’t do any worse. And all the coal industry wants is a chance to survive until something takes coals place in both WV and in the electric utility industry. Will a not-Obama administration solve all coal’s current problems. No. Low gas priced generation is still displacing coal generation. But, gas prices have gone up from just above $2.00/MMBtu in the spring to $3.50/MMBtu now. If we have a cold winter, then prices above $4.00/MMBtu are very realistic. And, as gas prices go up, so does the use of coal. Except that with the threat of CSAPR, MATS, CO2 tax, etc. on the horizon, utility companies are not putting money in the coal units (especially the smaller ones) so that they can run them into the ground before they are forced to shut them down when the new regs kick in. So, it would take some time for a not-Obama administration to save the coal industry. But, it can be saved.
    4. And lastly, we all know that new industry is needed in every state. Easier said than done. But, it is a great goal to try and promote economic development in WV. I don’t believe anyone would argue with that. But, it will take a while to replace coal use across the country and the jobs they currently provide to WV residents. To those who think WV coal is all gone, it is not. There is plenty of coal left. Some coal may be harder to get to. But, there is enough coal to keep WV residents employed for many years. That gives everyone time to develop new industries. It is always easier to find a job when you already have a job.
    So, let’s keep coal in the mix and begin looking at alternatives while we develop the vast new gas reserves in this country. Let’s become energy independent as a country through the use of all the above. Let’s get industry going again and get people back to work. Can Obama do it? I have watched him for 4 years and have not seen anything to make me think that is the case. I choose hope and change.
    “Friends of Coal”

  26. coalguy says:

    To prove my point about coal coming back some, below is a quote from AEP’s Investor earnings call yesterday:

    Nicholas K. Akins – Chief Executive Officer, President, Director, Member of Executive Committee and Member of Policy Committee

    Yes. Jonathan, actually, we’ve seen switching going back the other direction. The capacity factors of the gas units are starting to drop. The coal capacity is picking back up. For us, you get in that gas price of $3 to $3.25 per MMBtu, you’re going to start that switch to — back to coal. I think for other utilities, it’s higher. But because our mines were located close to the plants and they’re mainly — coal comes in by the river and we have pretty advantageous contracts, it certainly helps us keep in that switchover price lower. So I think it’s a very good proposition for us because we are able to move back and forth in that perspective and we have the contractual ability to adjust from that perspective as well. And it really says something good about the ongoing nature of our unregulated business because it will be practically 2/3 are fully controlled coal units. And as well, our gas units, 1/3 gas, will be able to take advantage of those economies as well. So…

    Transcript of the entire call is here:

  27. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    This is a good thread, and I appreciate everyone’s comments from various points of few … We have had a few comments that didn’t get published because they violated Coal Tattoo’s comment rules … so I wanted to remind everyone of those rules. Here they are:

    1. Be respectful of others, especially those your disagree with — this includes other readers and commenters , public officials, and even coal industry executives.

    2. No name calling.

    3. Come to this comment section with an open mind, and try to learn about other people, not just spout off your own opinion.

    4. Please provide links or citations to published material to back up your views, when appropriate.

    5. Keep the cheer-leading comments to a minimum, and stay on topic of the post you’re commenting on. Coal Tattoo does not have free-for-all open threads. If you have a news item related to coal that you didn’t see mentioned on this blog, a good place to mention it is in the comments section of the weekly “Friday roundup.”

    Please use an e-mail address that is working and that you check frequently. Your e-mail address will not be published, but I might need to contact you off-list with a question about your comment. Also, please pick a screen name and stick with it. It’s not fair for one person to use multiple screen names to make it appear others share their views.

    Finally, if you are a a paid advocate — a lawyer, public relations person or lobbyist — involved in coal issues, please sign in under your real name. It’s not fair to other readers to have paid advocates pretending to be members of the general public.

    They are posted here,

    Thanks, Ken.

  28. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Also, one additional note — especially to new readers and commenters — this blog is not going to be allowed to devolve into a back and forth about “liberal coal killers” or whatever … focus your comments on the issues discussed in the blog posts regarding the coal industry, please. There are plenty of other websites where you can say whatever you want. This is not one of them.


  29. Soyedina says:

    Coalguy, thanks for the reply. I respect the breadth of your knowledge about these issues, but I am still not seeing anything specific about what Not-Obama could possibly do to resolve any of these issues. I’m no expert but your agreement that my analysis is sound (at least to a first order approximation) makes me even more skeptical that there is anything to this “Obama is war on coal” business other than political character assassination.

    but I want to be wrong! You say

    all the coal industry wants is a chance to survive until something takes coals place in both WV and in the electric utility industry

    How, specifically, could this happen? Particularly since it will take an act of congress (literally) to forestall CO2 regulation, and given that even with improvements in local or regional coal markets for some producers we are still facing the inevitable and irreversible long term decline in production and employment.

  30. coalguy says:

    I am not sure what CO2 regulation you are referring to. I may be wrong, but I believe the current EPA CO2 regs will simply not allow new coal plants to be built (except those with a permit already). So, although coal use will be in decline in the future, it will be a slow decline and could be even slower when the not-Obama administration replaces Lisa Jackson as head of the EPA (which is expected). I believe the regs that have the best potential to shut down existing coal fired power plants is the upcoming MATS regulations that go into effect in 2015 and could easily be delayed by the new EPA administration.
    Am I missing something?

  31. Soyedina says:

    Heck I don’t know I am probably missing something 😉

    Re CO2 I was thinking that if the GHG regulations were struck that could change the market in such a way that some coal operations could be competitive, but this is unlikely to happen in the current legislative climate.

    Re MATS…. you think a Not-Obama president would stall implementation of these regulations? If so, do you have any quantitative estimate of how this would affect the rate of the decline (i.e., slow or even slower)? I am far afield here but I’m growing more and more skeptical of the prospects for seeing anything substantive from Not-Obama about what can be done to mitigate the market troubles faced by Appalachian coal producers

  32. coalguy says:

    OK….here is my take on it which may not be worth much.
    CO2 – see the attached summary of EPA’s CO2 rules. It appears to me that there is no effect on currently operating or permitted coal plants.

    MATS – I believe that if Lisa Jackson stepped down as head of the EPA, and if you take Romney at his word, the concensus is that the new EPA would modify MATS to give a more reasonable time frame to install environmental upgrades to the facilities big enough to justify the expense and also allow time to construct and capitalize new generation (gas, nuke or other) to fill in for the plants that need to shut down because they are too old or small to justify the upgrades.

    So, what does this do for WV coal. It allows coal plants that use WV coal to operate longer and at higher capacity factors when gas generation is above the cost of coal generation. Obviously, it will take a while to burn down inventories and increase coal demand but we could easily see some mines coming back into production early next year if gas prices allow. And I believe that is all the coal industry wants.

  33. Ted Boettner says:

    According to projections from EIA, the decline in Central Appalachian coal would be nearly the same even without any concern for green houses gases and MATS.

  34. coalguy says:

    Central App coal is in decline because of higher mining coasts and low gas prices. However, gas prices are rising and coal is starting to return. But, it will never return to it’s glory days because scrubber installations have already been completed that allow the switch of some of the coal to lower priced Northern App and ILB coal. However, I know of several coal units that will shut down in 2015 solely because of MATS (previously CSAPR before the courts shot it down). And those plants burn Central App coal only. So, there has been a slow retreat from CAPP coal made quicker by low gas prices. Some of that loss from gas prices can return if MATS gets delayed. I have no doubt about that. I’m not sure what the forecast EIA used for gas prices but if they stay low, CAPP will not compete. If they rise, CAPP coal will return to a point.

  35. Renee Bolden says:

    Soyedina, I’m not sure if this will help answer your questions, but I came across this earlier. Maybe it will help:

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