Leading candidate for South Korea’s Presidency pledges to cut coal: The leading candidate to become South Korea’s next President, Moon Jae-In, says “we should reduce consumption of fossil fuels, coal in particular”. He specifically flagged the problem of fine particle pollution from coal plants. Moon has proposed the development of renewables and switching to plants fueled by gas imported from Russia. The election may be held in mid-2017 depending on whether the constitutional court upholds parliament’s impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye. (Platts)
Court orders halt to Colombian river diversion plan: A Colombian court recently ordered a halt to work on the diversion of the Arroyo River by the Cerrejon Coal Company, a joint venture of BHP Billiton, Glencore and Anglo American. The Court has required the company to negotiate with the local Wayuu indigenous communities before moving forward with the project. Local residents have challenged the permits for the diversion on the grounds that two towns and four communities would be at risk of losing their water supply. In a bid to overcome the indigenous Wayuu community’s opposition to the river’s diversion, the Colombian Government and the company are seeking to negotiate to provide a package of community development projects. (Bloomberg, La Guajira Hoy.com [in Spanish])
Trump’s energy policy backs “clean coal”; analysts have doubts: The Trump Administration’s energy policy, released shortly after his inauguration, vowed to repeal the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan and the Stream Protection Rule. It also states it is “committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry” though most analysts believe the shift away from coal is a permanent structural shift in the power generation market. (Climate Central)
US lab manager jailed for faking water tests: A federal judge has sentenced a former manager of Appalachian Laboratories, John Brewer, to two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to faking test results submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection on water pollution samples for West Virginia’s coal industry. The judge said Brewer and most of the more than 30 people working at the lab had been involved in the falsification of results. However, neither Appalachian Labs nor its owners have been charged with any offenses and continue to operate. (Charleston Gazette Mail)
Global coal lobby group forms pact with UN agency: The World Coal Association, the coal industry’s peak lobby group, has entered into a formal agreement with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to “increase the awareness of the role of coal in the global energy mix and in providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” UNECE has 56 member states across Europe, Western Asia and also includes the US and Canada. (World Coal Association)
“If the latest projections are close to the mark, coal technologies will have a very tough time competing with wind and solar for the cheapest source of energy … But it seems unlikely that replacing them [existing coal plants] like-for-like would be a viable solution to any of our energy challenges,” writes Tennant Reed from the Australian Industry Group in a critique of the promotion of new coal plants by mining industry lobby groups.
Thai activists challenge secrecy over new coal plant: The Network of Songkhla-Pattani Peoples against the Coal-Fired Power Plant has expressed alarm that the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has secretly completed bidding for a proposed 2,000-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Songkhla's Thepha district. In a letter to a local school principal, EGAT stated that under the interim charter adopted by the Thai military regime it was permissible to commence project bidding procedures before the completion of an environmental impact assessment study. Activists are considering lodging a legal challenge in the Administrative Court. (Bangkok Post)