According to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the United States rose by 390,000 million tons for the week ending January 3, compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 17.61 million tons compared to 17.22 million tons for the first week of January, 2014. For the 52-week period ending January 3, production was also up slightly, to 994.3 million tons from 982.1 million tons last year.
This increase was reflected in the number of rail car loadings, which saw an increase of 0.3% for the week over the same period last year. Rail car loadings were up 1.0% for the previous 52 weeks.
Metallurgical coal exports for the month of November (the most recent data available) dropped by 5.0% from a year ago to stand at 4.8 million tons. Steam coal, also continued its slide during the month of November, down 21.9% from a year ago to 2.7 million tons. Year-to-date through the end of November, both metallurgical and steam coal exports remain down compared to last year. Metallurgical coal is off 3.9% at 58.2 million tons while steam coal is off 32% at 31.8 million tons shipped.
Imports picked up in November – up 18% -- to 1 million tons. Coal imports for the previous 52 weeks remain up 32% to 10.8 million tons.
Electric output was also off - down 2.1% for the week ending January 3 - but is down slightly (also 2.1%) for the year. Steel output surged for the week - up 3.4 percent to 1.85 million tons - and continues to trend up slightly for the year at 93.7 million tons produced compared to 93.0 million tons last year.
Steel production finished the week up 3.9% from the same week a year ago, and is also up 3.9% for the previous 52 weeks.
Looking at regional coal production, Appalachian coal production was up slightly for the week – to 4.72 million tons from 4.69 million tons for the same week last year. Meanwhile, Interior Basin production was up slightly to 3.30 million tons from 3.27 million tons for the week last year. Western production was up slightly this week, to 9.58 million tons from 9.32 million tons for the first week of 2014.
Regional production for the three primary production basins for the previous 52 weeks ending January 3, however, reflected the longer term trends of reduced production in the Appalachia countered by increased production in the Interior and Western reserves. For the period, Appalachia production was down slightly by 0.4% to 269.70 million tons, off from 270.62 million tons in 2013. Interior Basin production was up for the period by 2.4%, to 186.0 from 182.61 million tons last year. Meanwhile, Western production was up 1.7%, to 537.66 million tons from 528.82 in 2013.
Citing “data quality issues” the EIA has decided not to report state-level estimates. We apologize for this and we will seek an alternate source of the information.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, reported coal production for 2014 in West Virginia currently stands at 112.13 million tons, of which 84.50 million tons was produced underground and 27.64 million tons was produced via surface mining. There are currently 125 mines reporting production in the state. Direct mining employment currently stands at 18,257 miners, with 14,131 working primarily underground and another 4,126 working on surface operations in the state.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal fell to $55.92 per ton, off from $56.10 last week. North Appalachian coal saw an increase in price to
$66.55 per ton, up from $65.30 per ton last week. Illinois Basin coal prices also saw an increase, at $45.70 per ton, up from $44.55 per ton a week ago. Likewise, Powder River Basin and Uinta Basin coal prices increased this week - at $12.10 and $38.30 per ton respectively.
Natural gas prices stopped their recent decline, remaining essentially steady on the Henry Hub at approximately $3.60 per million Btu. Natural gas producers reported significant declines in their stored reserves - off 64 billion cubic feet compared to last month.
Utilities reported that for the month of October, they held an average of 82 days worth of bituminous coal in stockpiles along with 50 days of sub-bituminous. This is significantly down from October 2013, down 10.1% and 18.4% respectively.
Following the sudden and untimely death of Marshall University President Stephen Kopp in December, the University’s Board of Governors has unanimously named former West Virginia Coal Association President and two-time Board Chairman, Gary White, of Logan, to the role of interim president. A Marshall graduate, Gary has also served as president and CEO of International Industries, Inc., based in Gilbert, vice president of the state Board of Education, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and on the University of Pikeville Board of Trustees. His tenure began January 1st and will last until a permanent replacement is found.
Following the announcement, Governor Tomblin said, “I have known Gary for many years and commend Marshall University for making an outstanding choice for an interim president. Gary is passionate about improving our state’s higher education system and will be a steady hand for the University while the Board of Governors searches for a permanent replacement for the late Dr. Kopp.” We, at the Association, wish the best of luck to Gary who we know will do an outstanding job for his alma mater and the State of West Virginia.
The formal changing of the guard in West Virginia’s Congressional delegation took place this week in Washington with the “swearing-in” of U.S. Senator Shelley Capito (R-WV), incumbent Congressman David McKinley (R-1st District) and freshmen Congressmen Evan Jenkins (R-3rd District) and Alex Mooney (R-2nd District). Capito is the first woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate from West Virginia and the first Republican in more than 50 years.
West Virginia's longest-serving governor, Arch A. Moore Jr. died January 7th in Charleston at age 91 just one day after his daughter, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, was sworn into office.
Moore, a Marshall County native, launched his life in politics at age 28 and was married for 65 years to the late Shelley Riley Moore, who died in September 2014. The Moores were parents to Shelley Moore Capito, Lucy Moore Durbin and Arch III.
Time is rapidly approaching and final agenda items are coming together for the 42nd Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium which is set for January 28th – 30th at the Charleston Civic Center. We’re expecting another big crowd based on the sponsorship, exhibits, advertising and general registration that’s already been received by the office.
STRATTON STREET — With Christmas right around the corner, many local military and coal mining families are feeling the pressures of the holidays instead of the Christmas Spirit. However, the Friends of Coal Ladies’ Auxiliary, an organization with about 5,000 members throughout the coalfields that works year-round to promote awareness about the positive aspects of the coal industry, to educate the public about the industry, and to work on projects that support veterans, visited Logan County on Tuesday to act as “Santa’s Helpers.”
The Ladies’ Auxiliary brought toys, clothes and two weeks of food for 13 local families during their Giving Hearts operation. They took base in the Shriner’s Lodge located on Stratton Street. The Shriner’s donated the use of the building for free as their contribution to the project.
West Virginia’s delegation to the U.S. Senate will be sitting on several key committees when the new Congress takes its seats in January.
Incoming Senator Shelley Capito has been appointed to serve on the all-important Appropriations Committee, as well as the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
According to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the United States rose by 1.8 million tons for the week ending December 13, compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 19.8 million tons compared to 18 million tons in 2013. Year-to-date, production was also up slightly, to 944.6 million tons from 939 million tons in 2013.
This increase was reflected in the number of rail car loadings, which saw an increase of 7.5% for the week over the same period last year. Rail car loadings were also up 0.2% year-to-date.
In another attack on coal and other traditional fuels, the Obama White House is now calling on federal agencies to consider the climate-change impact of a wide range of energy projects that require government approval.
The draft guidelines, released Thursday by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, are likely to affect fossil-fuel projects the most, such as pipelines, terminals that export coal and liquefied natural gas, and production of oil, natural gas and coal on public lands.
West Virginia Coal Association files comments on the proposed rule
The West Virginia Coal Association joined Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and representatives of Appalachian Power and First Energy at a news conference Monday announcing their filing of comments related to the EPA's proposed carbon pollution emission guidelines for existing power plants - also known as the "Clean Power Plan." Monday was the last day to submit public comments on this latest job-killing regulation by the agency. WVCA President Bill Raney joined Tomblin and Appalachian Power President and COO Charles Patton in condemning the new regulation.
"This poorly devised, and we believe, illegal, power grab by the Obama EPA will hurt West Virginians by minimizing the use of West Virginia coal and force the closure of more coal-fired power plants across the country," Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. "It will further reduce the number of West Virginians working in the coal and power generation industries, taking paychecks out of our communities and further jeopardizing our state's economic prosperity. EPA is literally attempting to take control of the nation's electricity grid and the state's sovereign authority with these proposed rules".
"We certainly need our congressional representatives - Senator Manchin, Senator-elect Capito, Congressman McKinley, Congressmen-elect Mooney and Jenkins - to push the new Congress to do whatever they can to stop this job-killing, economy-smashing plan in its tracks. It makes no sense that EPA is inflicting the pain of taking our great coal miners' jobs for a CO2 reduction of less than 1% and this attempt to wrestle regulatory control away from the states will result in higher electric bills for most Americans," Raney said.
A recent study by Energy Ventures Analysis found that under these proposed rules, the annual West Virginia household electricity and gas bills will increase by $750 - a 38 percent increase - by 2020.
"President Obama is mandating a move away from low cost, coal-fired electricity to more expensive alternatives for an initiative that will have little to no impact on global climate change," Raney said. "When you take into account that more than 400 electric generating units across the country are slated for closure or transition to alternative fuels in the coming years, these rules also severely threaten the stability of America's power grid."
Raney offered that 58 coal-fired electric generating units across the country that currently use West Virginia coal will be shuttered by 2020. This represents the livelihood of thousands of state residents.
Over the past several months, more than 12,000 individuals have signed a West Virginia Coal Association petition in opposition to the EPA's "Clean Power Plan". All those signed petitions were mailed to EPA on Monday. The Association's comments can be viewed online at the organization's website at:
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; Proposed Rule, 79 Fed. Reg. 34,830 (June 18, 2014).
West Virginia Coal Association files comments on the proposed rule
Charleston, WV (December 1, 2014) – The West Virginia Coal Association condemned the EPA’s proposed carbon emission guidelines for existing power plants – also known as the “Clean Power Plan” in comments filed with the agency today.
“This ill-conceived, poorly devised and illegal power grab by the Obama EPA will hurt West Virginians by minimizing the use of West Virginia coal and force the closure of more coal-fired power plants across the country,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. “It will further reduce the number of West Virginians working in the coal and power generation industries, taking paychecks out of our communities and further jeopardizing our state’s economic prosperity.”
“It will extend up and down through the supply chain to include direct and indirect jobs, impacting every sector of our economy from the mine repair shop to the railroads and from the local pizza place to the school system.” Raney stated, “We need our congressional representatives – Senator Manchin, Senator-elect Capito, Congressman McKinley, Congressmen-elect Mooney and Jenkins – to push the new Congress to do whatever they can to stop this job-killing, economy-smashing plan in its tracks.”
Association Says Costs Simply Not Bearable for West Virginia Families
CHARLESTON — The EPA’s continued assault on coal and coal-fired power plants comes with a huge cost to consumers. According to a recently released study, the resulting shift to using more natural gas will likely cost the average family an additional $750 to $850 per year for energy use in 2020 compared to what they paid in 2012.
The study, “Energy Market Impacts of Recent Federal Regulations on the Electric Power Sector,” factors in the EPA’s proposed carbon rule and other regulations, along with the expected doubling in price of wholesale natural gas in coming years. The yearly energy cost for the average Ohioan would go from $2,022 in 2012 to $2,874 in 2020, a 42 percent increase, the study projects. For West Virginians, the yearly energy cost would go from $1,960 in 2012 to $2,710 in 2020, a 38 percent increase, the study projects. Meanwhile, nationwide, consumers and businesses would see the cost of electricity and natural gas increase by nearly $300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012. The industrial sector will be hard hit with total electricity and natural gas cost for the sector approaching $200 billion in 2020, almost double the cost from 2012. This would stifle industrial growth and lead to higher prices for any goods produced using electricity. Overall, the study projects a $177 billion increase in electricity costs and a $107 billion increase in natural gas costs in 2020 compared with 2012 when the cumulative effects of EPA regulations and energy market impacts are analyzed.
WVCA Offices will be closed on these two days for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Thank you and have a wonderful holiday.