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Coal Report for August 31, 2016

Coal Report for August 31, 2016

Kenn W. Kiser, The electricity sector is the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Kenn W. Kiser,
The electricity sector is the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More at – Ohio Valley ReSource

Power Play – Objections to the Clean Power Plan

Glynis Board

Coal-producing states are preparing for arguments next month in the case known as West Virginia versus the EPA, challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants. The case has major implications for the country’s policy on climate change. But as Glynis Board reports, some experts and industry leaders say the outcome will not bring coal back.

Coal from central Appalachia has been “keeping the lights on” in the U.S. for nearly a century, so perhaps it’s no surprise that West Virginia’s attorney general is leading dozens of other states including Kentucky and Ohio, and many industry groups, in opposition to the new carbon emission standards. During a National Press Club panel discussion earlier this year Patrick Morrisey said the Clean Power Plan disincentivises coal production.

MORRISSEY: “So if you can reverse some of the regulatory carnage, then there is an opportunity to at least come back.”

But while Morrisey is focused on derailing regulation, some in the electric utility industry say winning or losing the Clean Power Plan won’t decide the larger environmental/energy war.

PATTON: “There is a shift going on for reasons beyond the Clean Power Plan”

That’s Charles Patton, chief operating officer for one of the largest electric utilities in the region, Appalachian Power, which serves parts of West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. Patton told an energy conference audience at West Virginia University this spring that his company’s dependence on coal-generated power will drop from 74 percent in 2012, to 53 percent by 2024. He pointed to a slide that showed how Appalachian Power plans to diversify its energy portfolio with gas, solar, wind, and battery technology.

PATTON: “If you would have told me 6 years ago that this would be the slide that I’d have up for you, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Patton says utilities like his are diversifying their energy portfolios as the result of a variety of market forces. He says new technology is making renewable energy more reliable, there’s an overall reduction in demand because of efficiency measures, and natural gas is just cheaper. And all that means that a coal comeback is not likely–regardless of the legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan, or CPP.

PATTON: “Our current levels of coal which are significantly down from where they were 8 years ago, 6 years ago, 2 years ago – there’s not going to be an uptick with or without the Clean Power Plan.”

GERRARD: “If a state or a region is not at the table, it’s on the menu.

Professor from Columbia School of Law, Michael Gerrard, also spoke at the recent energy conference at WVU.

GERRARD: “And it should participate in the activities leading toward a resolution and not just deny it’s going to happen.”

The federal Clean Power Plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about one third by 2030. Near record numbers of Americans are worried about climate change according to recent Gallup polls. Patton says old paradigms are being challenged, and his company is reading the carbon writing on the wall.

PATTON: “Once you get through the political morass, at the end of the day, most Americans believe that there’s something going on and that we need to take steps to address it. That belief is common in businesses …and also utilities.”

Oral arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan are slated to be heard in front of the the entire D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in September. Any ruling will most likely be appealed and decided by the Supreme Court in 2017. For the Ohio Valley Resource, I’m Glynis Board in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Power Initiative Grant

Clark Davis

Federal officials were in Huntington (WV) Wednesday to announce the award of almost 39 million dollars for programs in Appalachia that are dealing with the effects of coal’s decline. Clark Davis has more.

Davis: Representatives from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the United States Economic Development Administration said $38.8 million is going to 29 projects throughout Appalachia to stimulate the economies in coal communities. The awards were made as part of President Barack Obama’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, or POWER Initiative. Jay Williams is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development.

Williams: To have an opportunity to work on behalf of the president, on behalf of this administration to help bring resources to help those communities transition is an honor and it’s inspiring.

Davis: Among the programs to receive funds were the Coalfield Development Corporation in West Virginia and the University of Pikeville in Kentucky for its Kentucky College of Optometry program. The Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability at Ohio University was one of the major award recipients in Ohio.

For the Ohio Valley ReSource, I’m Clark Davis in Huntington.

The Coal Report is a weekly production of WMMT. It is assembled from newspapers and press services and reports coal-related material as these sources give it. It does not represent the opinion of WMMT on the matters discussed. Our aim is to reflect both local developments regarding coal and the big picture we’re a part of. For feedback, comments, or questions, email [email protected]

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