Preparing for a post-coal world General,  International 2019-11-08 16:15:54

On November 4, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the latest step in the undoing of pollution controls many industries find inconvenient, proposing weakening the rules on disposal of vast amounts of coal ash generated by power plants.

The announcement had particular significance for Indiana, which is one of the heaviest users of coal to generate electric power. Electric plants dispose of the ash generated when coal is burned by burying it in a landfill or washing it into holding ponds. Many of those ponds are improperly lined to prevent leakage and allow water contaminated with dangerous chemicals to leach into the groundwater or, in the case of severe storms, be washed directly into waterways.

Until the Obama administration proposed inspection and monitoring rules to control coal-ash disposal, the issue had been left to the states. Though there are no coal-fired plants or ash-disposal sites in our area, Indiana has more coal-ash-disposal ponds than any other state, and regulation of them, before the national rules were issued in 2015, was minimal.

This summer, a New York Times analysis identified 85 environmental rules the Trump administration has either reversed or is in the process of reversing. Easing requirements for dealing with coal ash is just one of many ways the administration is seeking to shore up the coal industry.

The EPA proposal would set back deadlines for companies to close improperly lined ash ponds, said Jodi Perras, deputy regional director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. It also would loosen standards for some of the dangerous metals the ash effluent might contain, such as selenium and arsenic.

She predicts the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations will quickly be filing lawsuits to stop the proposed rule changes.

But whatever the outcome of that fight, Perras says, the administration's efforts to keep coal competitive will fail. Regulatory breaks from Washington can't alter the fact that coal is dirtier and more expensive to use than natural gas and alternative energy sources.

NIPSCO may close its last coal-fired electric-generation facility by 2028, and AEP is moving toward reducing or ending its reliance on coal. "These are decisions that utilities are still making," Perras said, "and I don't see them reversing direction. Coal is still on the way out, and it's only accelerating."

A new tracking tool developed by the Rockefeller Institute of Government can help lawmakers and others who try to think about the future of energy put things into perspective. The tool tracks electricity production state by state over the past 29 years, showing how much power has been generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear reactors and renewables.

In 2008, 94.2% of Indiana's electricity net generation – which the institute defines as total electricity minus electricity used in production – came from coal. In 2018, just a decade later, that number was 68.3%. In 2008 in Michigan, coal-produced power accounted for 60.7% of electricity net generation; in 2018, that percentage was 36.5. The Rockefeller site also tracks carbon-dioxide emissions through 2017. In that year, Indiana was seventh-highest in the country.

Rather than vainly hope the effort to undo decades of efforts to protect the environment will "save" the coal industry, policymakers in Indiana should be preparing for the transition, trying to make the state as hospitable as possible for alternative energy producers and offering training and support to the state's remaining coal miners whose jobs, through no fault of their own, are not likely to be around forever.

(Writing by Wenxin Wu  Editing by Alex Guo)
For any questions, please contact us by or +86-351-7219322.

Share this article
Connect with us

Editors Recommendations

1 China's Yangtze delta targets 2% cut in tiny smog particles this winter 2019-11-12

The 41 cities of China's Yangtze River delta manufacturing hub will aim to cut concentrations of tiny airborne smog particles known as PM2.5 by 2% this winter, below last year's target of 3%, the envi

2 China Coal Daily Track (Nov 12) 2019-11-12

Thermal coal Production area Three coal mines suspended operations in Shaanxi's Yulin city. One is expected to resume operation in 20 days after working face alternation. The recovery of th

3 China domestic low-CV coal prices keep strength on demand 2019-11-12

Prices of low-calorific value thermal coal marched higher at northern Chinese port thanks to resilient demand, but traders seemed lacking confidence in the near-term market. Several trade

4 Overseas thermal coal holds steady in China amid trade stalemate 2019-11-12

Prices of overseas thermal coal held steady in Chinese seaborne import market at the beginning of this week, as trading activity has been in a stalemate following import curbs at several Chinese custo

5 Weekly China met. coke market analysis and forecast 2019-11-12

No further price falls were seen in China's met coke market last week except some producers lowered prices for the second round of decline. Yet, overall demand didn't improve remarkably, while coke

6 Weekly China coking coal market analysis and forecast 2019-11-12

Coking coal market continued softening at China's main production areas during the past week, due to curtailed buying from coke producers as their profit was heavily eroded after two rounds of coke pr

7 Weekly China thermal coal market analysis and forecast 2019-11-12

Thermal coal market started to stabilize at northern China ports mid last week following a month-long retreat. Inquiries seemed creeping up, especially for 5,000 Kcal/kg NAR fuel, amid growing bullish

8 Brazil's Vale outlook cut implies at least 14.7% sales drop in 2019 2019-11-12

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale on November 11 said it now expects sales of iron ore and pelletsof between 307 million and 312 million tonnes in 2019, implying at least a 14.7% decline from a year

9 China's tightening import curbs may further hit seaborne coal prices 2019-11-11

China's coal imports declined for the second consecutive month in October, the latest customs data showed. Considering tightened import control will continue until the end of 2019, China's falling imp

10 China Coal Daily Track (Nov 11) 2019-11-11

Thermal coal Production area In Ordos, Inner Mongolia, the overall demand remained weak as local and surrounding end users' purchases were still on a need-to basis. Some miners lowered prices b

Most Read Articles

1 Overseas thermal coal shows signs of weakness in China 2019-11-04

Overseas thermal coal prices appeared to stabilize last week in China's seaborne import market following slow but firm upward increase, leading to a broad perception of price fall soon in the market.

2 Supply-demand mismatch accelerates thermal coal downturn in China 2019-11-04

A mismatch between supply and demand in China's domestic thermal coal market triggered a quicker price downtrend at Bohai-rim ports that has had lasted since early last month. On November

3 Central China firm signs 2-bln-yuan thermal coal contract with Indonesian miner 2019-11-07

Xingrui Industry Co., Ltd, a state-controlled enterprise based in Zhengzhou city of Henan province, signed thermal coal term contract worth 2 billion yuan ($285.6 million) with Indonesian miner PT Ind

4 China Oct coal imports fall 15.2% on mth 2019-11-08

China registered a 15.2% month-on-month drop in coal imports in October, as price edge of overseas cargoes weakened over domestic coal and market talks spread about possible tighter curbs.

5 Tightening China import grips dampen overseas thermal coal prices 2019-11-07

A number of customs offices have halted clearance services for coal imports this week since the General Administration of Customs allegedly required to tighten grips on the overseas fuel, hurting pric

6 Newcastle Oct coal exports to China surge 19.47% YoY 2019-11-05

Coal exports from Carrington and Kooragang, two key terminals at Newcastle port, Australia to China expanded by 19.47% year on year in October, showed data from the Port Waratah Coal Services, operato

7 Indonesian thermal coal prices start falling in China seaborne market 2019-11-05

Indonesian thermal coal began losing strength in Chinese seaborne import market, with demand cooling down as its price edge fading away against Chinese domestic coal, which has been falling for more t

8 Shanxi Coking Coal signs import contracts with two foreign firms at China import expo 2019-11-08

Shanxi Coking Coal Group, China's largest producer of the steelmaking material, signed strategic cooperation framework agreement and memorandum of understanding for import purchase with two foreign fi

9 Wait-and-watch sentiment thick in China thermal coal market 2019-11-06

Wait-and-watch sentiment remained thick among participants in Chinese spot thermal coal market, although a sign emerged for slightly revived inquiry activity early this week. The spot coa

10 Traders expect China thermal coal to stabilize on improved buy 2019-11-05

The majority of traders are anticipating Chinese thermal coal market to stabilize following nearly one month of declines, as some signs showed for the improving buying demand due to multiple favorable

Scan to download mobile APP