Coal Report for February 22, 2017
Miners wearing hard hats and overalls stood with politicians in suits during the bill signing at the white house. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, thanked the president for supporting the coal industry. “The last eight years brought a depression to eastern Kentucky. And our folks are so excited to have a pro-coal president. And we thank you so much for being on our side.” West Virginia’s democratic senator Joe Manchin said coal miners there represent the economy and the environment, and a balance must be struck. The bill signed dismantles a dept of interior regulation finalized just days before Trump took office. For OVR news I’m Glynis Board.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a government agency, found that the Stream Protection Rule that Trump and Congress repealed through the Congressional Review Act would have cost the coal industry an average of 260 coal related jobs yearly. CRS also projected the rule would generate an average of 250 jobs a year. Some of the new jobs would be in high-skilled areas like engineering and biology. Others would require skills that current industry workers already possess, such as bulldozer operations. On average, the cost of complying with the rule would add 40 cents per ton to coal extracted from Appalachian surface mines. Surface mines in two other major production regions would see new costs averaging 60 cents per ton. The severance taxes states collected from mining companies would fall by $2.5 million per year once the rule was implemented, according to CRS. West Virginia and Kentucky would shoulder more than 80 percent of those losses. The rule would have prevented mining within 100 feet streams and tightened requirements for conducting environmental studies and cleaning up mines. Many in the mining industry said that the rule wasn’t an update of pollution preventative measures, but an adding to and replicating of protection that already exists. The CRS job loss numbers are in stark contrast to those produced by The National Mining Association who reported that coal-related employment could fall by 281,000 positions.
Last year, more than 51,000 people in the United States were hired to design, manufacture, sell and install solar panels, according to a new report from The Solar Foundation reports Business Insider. That means the solar industry created jobs 17 times faster than the economy as a whole. The solar industry now employs twice as many people in the United States as the coal industry and roughly the same number of people as the natural gas industry. While solar still accounts for a much far smaller share of U.S. power generation than either of those fossil fuel sources, it’s expanding rapidly, putting a growing number of Americans to work. While the official numbers have not been tallied, early estimates have found that more solar was added to the grid in 2016 than natural gas capacity. Roughly half of the men and women working in the solar industry are installers, who earn a median wage of $26 an hour in a job that can’t be outsourced. In addition, these positions don’t require a bachelor’s degree. President Trump plans to roll back federal policies that foster the growth of clean energy, potentially scrap the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and eliminate funding for clean-energy research and development. Without these policies, solar will continue to grow, but at an attenuated pace. Corporations like General Motors, Apple and IKEA will keep buying up solar power to cut costs and guard against volatility in the price of fossil fuels. But electric utilities will be less incentivized to shutter existing coal-fired power plants in favor of new renewable energy installations.
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]Tags: