August 21, 2014

Chinese coal consumption just fell for the first time this century

“There may be a light at the end of the long dark tunnel: It appears China's coal boom is over.While positive signs have been emerging from China for well over a year, it appears the 'war on pollution' is not just talk. According to analysis produced by Lauri Myllyvirta and Greenpeace International in the first half of this year, China's coal use dropped for the first time this century -- while the country's gross domestic product (GDP) actually grew. You read that right: coal and GDP growth have decoupled in China,” write Justin Guay from the Sierra Club and Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace International in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Chinese #Coal Consumption Just Fell for the First Time This Century by @Guay_JG @laurimyllyvirta #coalisover

Devastating impacts of Indonesian coal mine financed by international banks

“Indonesia’s largest coal mine, the Kaltim Prima Coal mine in East Kalimantan, has imposed a heavy toll on local villagers, according to a new report by JATAM East Kalimantan. The mine, which is jointly owned by Bumi Resources and Tata India, has polluted waterways and forced villagers off their land. Behind the project stand a coalition of international financial houses: Credit Suisse, the China Investment Corporation and the China Development Bank, with J.P Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank underwriting the troubled Bumi Resources. “We therefore call on all banks, financiers and shareholders of Bumi Resources to use their influence with this company and their subsidiaries to bring an end to the problems of KPC,” writes JATAM.

Suggested Tweet: Why r @CreditSuisse China Investment Corp & China Dev. Bank funding Bumi Resources damaging Kaltim Prima #Coal mine?

Where coal ships go, trouble follows

“For the last three weeks divers have laboured to weld large steel plates over a two-metre long hole accidentally smashed in the hull of a coal ship when it grounded near a Canadian coal export port … While port authorities and coal companies routinely downplay the risks of accidents from shipping, the July 14 accident in which the Amakusa Island was seriously damaged serves as a cautionary tale of what can so easily go badly wrong,” writes Bob Burton in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Where #coal ships go, trouble follows @bobburtonoz See table of coal ship accidents


Permit for proposed US coal port rejected

A groundswell of public opposition has led to the Oregon Department of State Lands rejecting an application by Ambre Energy for a key permit required for the proposed Morrow Pacific coal port on the Columbia River. The agency rejected the permit for the 8 million tonnes per annum port in part due to the company’s lack of detail on alternatives and “impacts on tribal fisheries.”Ambre Energy has 21 days to appeal against the decision. However, the decision will delay Montana and Wyoming coal producers hoping to expand coal exports, with decisions on two other larger proposed ports not due for several years. (Sierra Club, SNL)

Suggested Tweet: Victory: Oregon rejects crucial permit for Ambre Energy's #coal export terminal

top news

UK advertising regulator finds against Peabody Energy’s ‘energy poverty’ ads: The UK Advertising Standards Authority has found that advertisements run by Peabody Energy promoting “clean coal” as part of a solution to energy poverty were misleading. The authority stated that “consumers were likely to interpret the word ‘clean’ as an absolute claim meaning that ‘clean coal’ processes did not produce CO2 or other emissions.” Two other elements of WWF’s complaint over the ads were not upheld. (Advertising Standards Authority)

US carbon capture plant FutureGen struggles to survive: The consortium promoting the proposed FutureGen ‘clean coal’ plant proposal in Illinois is struggling to complete a financing deal due to ongoing legal challenges. The delays have led the US Department of Energy to class the project as “high risk” and in danger of missing a September 2015 deadline for spending its US$1 billion federal stimulus grant. The US$1.65 billion project aims to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from a 168 megawatt (MW) plant. In 2013 the Illinois Commerce Commission set the power purchase agreement price at five times higher than the then prevailing spot electricity price. (Seattle Times)
Vote by Indian villagers on proposed mine called off: Just before a vote by the villagers of Mahan on the proposed Mahan coal mine, the government official responsible for supervising the vote was transferred. Greenpeace India and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti have challenged a previous pro-mine vote as fraudulent. After the transfer of the district collector the CEO of Mahan Coal, Ramakant Tiwari, stated that “the new district collector will take a call on the entire matter separately.” (Economic Times, RTCC)

US groups to challenge weak power plant water rule: Environmental groups will launch a legal challenge against a US Environmental Protection Agency rule intended to limit the impacts on aquatic life from the use of water for cooling at 1,065 power plants and factories. However, the rule does not specify the "best technology” but only proposes to allow companies to select from a range of options. (SNL)

“The [coal] industry doesn't truly understand its full value and it doesn't understand how to counter many of the arguments that say we are addicted to it and need to get off of it, otherwise it's going to cause catastrophic depletion, pollution and climate change. As long as that understanding doesn't exist, you can't paper over understanding with messaging yourself and you certainly can't convince other people if they've been enmeshed with the opposite viewpoint their entire lives. A couple of messages aren't going to do it,”

says Alex Epstein, the founder of the pro-coal Centre for Industrial Progress.


India: Central Bureau of Investigation warns of power firms engaging in illegal related party deals.

Israel: Ministry of Finance proposes fourfold increase in tax on coal imports to fund Gaza war.
US: Four cited on misdemeanour charges over Montana coal protest.

US: More than 19,000 litres of diesel spilt into Ohio River from Duke Energy power plant.

“To paraphrase the late Vermont Sen. George Aiken, it's time for Big Coal to declare victory and pull out. Democratic consultants will reassure Ambre, Cloud Peak Energy and SSA Marine [proponents of three new coal export terminals] that this still can be won. Forgive them. It’s good money, and they have tuition bills to pay. Monday marked the beginning of the end. History turns,”

stated the editorial, titled “Oregon's rejection of Morrow Pacific: Coal terminals’ death rattle”, in the Washington state news site, the HeraldNet on the rejection of a permit for a coal export terminal in Oregon.

companies + markets

BHP Billiton dumps struggling coal assets into spin-off company: BHP Billiton has announced that it will spin-off its poorest performing assets – including its South African and US coal mines – into a company with the working name of ‘NewCo’. As a sweetener it has also put its New South Wales Illawarra metallurgical coal mines into the new company. However, it has kept its Hunter Valley thermal coal and Queensland metallurgical coal mines in the existing company. (BHP Billiton, Sydney Morning Herald)

Indian company’s Mozambique mine faces challenges: The Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) and the National Mineral Development Corporation, all publicly-owned Indian coal consumers, will establish a new joint venture company to complete the purchase of Rio Tinto’s Mozambique coal assets for just US$50 million. However, the director of finance for SAIL has acknowledged that current production costs are approximately US$165 a tonne, US$35 more than the current metallurgical coal sale price. (LiveMint, LiveMint),

German utility to shut three more coal plants: The European utility RWE has announced that it will shut two coal plants with a combined capacity of 395 MW over the next two years, with a 610 MW unit at the Gersteinwerk plant likely to close in early 2017 “if market conditions do not change.”  “The ongoing expansion of renewable energy is increasingly leading to reductions in the utilisation of conventional power plants. At the same time, wholesale prices for electricity have been in freefall for some time, and are now at only around 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour,” the company stated. (RWE)
US coal company valuations keep on falling: An analysis of 14 publicly-traded US coal companies has revealed that their combined market value has fallen by 63.6 per cent since April 2011 to just US$25.76 billion. In April 2011 the companies were valued at US$64 billion. Peabody Energy, the largest publicly-traded coal company, has seen its valuation slump from US$19.7 billion in April 2011 to just US$4.3 billion in mid-August 2014. (SNL)

Vietnam aims for rapid rise in coal imports: The Chairman of the Vietnam Energy Association, Tran Viet Ngai, is predicting that coal imports – most likely from Australia and Indonesia – will begin next year after the government stated that it wanted new coal plants commissioned soon. Ngai suggested that could amount to 40 million tonnes by 2020 due to the rising costs and difficulty of producing domestic coal. (Wall Street Journal)

resources                      take action

Economic Impacts from Indiana's First 1,000 Megawatts of Wind Power, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, US Department of Energy, August 2014. (Pdf)

This report examines the economic impacts of the first 1,000 MW of wind capacity in Indiana, the sixth largest coal producing state in the US. This report provides a useful economic framework for arguing the case for a switch from coal to wind, especially where power generation relies on imported coal.

Stop the crackdown on the People’s Movement in Mahan, India

In the face of a crackdown on local activists Greenpeace International is seeking support for those opposing the proposed Mahan coal mine in India. Take action online by sending an email to Jual Oram, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, asking him to intervene and stop threats and repression of environmental activism; and ensure a free and fair Gram Sabha [village council vote].

Suggested Tweet: TWEET in solidarity with the People’s Movement of #Mahan! #IamMahan

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