May 1, 2014
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Indian coal activist wins Goldman Prize


With a small Internet café as his headquarters, Ramesh Agrawal organized villagers to demand their right to information about industrial development projects and succeeded in shutting down one of the largest proposed coal mines in Chhattisgarh. Shortly after the coal mine was defeated, gunmen allegedly hired by Jindal Steel and Power broke into Agrawal’s shop and shot him in the leg. Agrawal survived the attack but faces a long road to recovery. Nevertheless, he continues his advocacy. This month he received the Goldman Award, the “Green Nobel,” in recognition of his work.


Secrecy and favors boost Turkish coal plant


Despite opposition, the US$5.5 billion SOCAR refinery in Aliaga continues to move ahead. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation have each withdrawn US$150 million, but SOCAR continues to receive backing from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and from the Export-Import Banks of the U.S., Korea, Italy, Canada, and Span.  Supporters passed a special law to override competing geothermal interests, and an environmental review process conveniently ignored the refinery’s 1350-megawatt (MW) captive coal plant. The combination of secrecy and special favors “show the magnitude of the problems that the mixture of business interests, coal and neglect of local health concerns may cause in Turkey,”

writes Bankwatch Network’s Ioana Ciuta following a fact-finding trip to Turkey.


top news

Coal plant outages threaten Philippine power supply: Concerns over blackouts increased following unexpected shutdowns of major coal plants. The Luzon power grid was placed on yellow alert after Unit 2 of the 600 MW Masinloc coal plant broke down. Other plants on forced or extended outage included Calaca Unit 2, GN Power’s Unit 1, Limay Unit 2, and Pagbilao Unit 2. (Philippine Star)
European Union funds UK carbon capture and storage project: The European Commission has confirmed that the White Rose carbon capture and storage project is in line to get US$415 million from the EU. The project proposes to capture up to 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions from a new coal plant in the UK and bury it under rock formations in the North Sea. (BBC)
Multiple mine accidents in Yunnan Province take at least 40 lives: Chinese authorities reported that the death toll from a flood that occurred on April 7 at Xiahaizi mine in Yunnan Province had risen to 21, with another miner still missing. Elsewhere in Yunnan, a coal mine explosion at the Hongtutian Coal Mine killed at least 14 people. In a third accident, five miners were killed in Yunnan’s Shaotong City. (XinhuaBloomberg)

Victoria OKs coal terminal expansion: 
The B.C. government quietly approved an amended permit allowing a Texada Island facility to store 800,000 tonnes of coal, double the previous amount. The upgrade will enable the facility to handle thermal coal from Fraser Surrey Docks, a proposed US$15-million project for shipping coal to Texada from the U.S. Midwest. The Fraser Surrey Docks project has yet to be approved by Port Metro Vancouver. (Vancouver Sun)
Greenpeace praises Apple, chastises Amazon on cloud computer practices: A report from Greenpeace International, Clicking Green, gave top grades to Apple for powering its iCloud using 100 per cent renewable energy. The report gave failing grades to Amazon for lack of transparency and for siting its massive data centers in areas that rely heavily on coal. Twitter also received failing grades. Facebook received praise for “radical improvements in transparency” and for wind power investments in Iowa. (Greenpeace)

St. Louis sit-in enters third week: Students protesting Washington University’s ties to coal company Peabody Energy entered the third week of a sit-in outside the campus’s main administration building. Demands include the removal of Peabody CEO Greg Boyce from the university's board of directors. (CBS St. Louis)
Southern Africa infrastructure build-out continues: Despite sluggish global demand, major rail investments continue across southern Africa. Transnet is spending US$18.8 billion to upgrade South Africa’s rails and enable the world-leading Richards Bay Coal Terminal to achieve its full capacity of 83 million tonnes. In Mozambique, Vale has budgeted US$4.5 billion, aiming to transport 20 million tonnes per year by 2017. Botswana says it needs US$33 billion to build the Trans-Kalahari railway linking its land-locked coal fields to Walvis Bay, Namibia. (Bloomberg)


“The problem with infrastructure is if you are in the middle of building the railway you can’t just stop,”

said Ntlai Mosiah, head of power and infrastructure and client coverage in South Africa at Standard Bank Group Ltd.


Australia: Two workers killed in Austar mine collapse in New South Wales.
Ghana: Shenzen Energy Group will invest US$1.5 billion to build a 700 MW coal plant.
India: Linkage Committee diverts coal to 30 power plants that are ready to operate.
Mongolia: Government intends to allow mining in previously protected areas.
Poland: Responding to Ukraine crisis, prime minister proposes coal-heavy “energy union.”
US: Federal judge strikes down Minnesota law banning imports from new coal plants.

companies + markets

Russia plans increase in coal production: The Russian government has endorsed a long-term coal industry development program featuring an increase in production and generation, one day after adopting a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. (RTCC

Six coal plants go online in India as imports surge: During the first two months of 2014 six new coal-fired generating units were commissioned, bringing the total amount of added capacity since the beginning of 2013 to 12,417 MW. During fiscal 2013-14, thermal coal imports increased by 26.5 per cent from 63 million tones to 79.7 million tonnes.  (Ministry of Power, Platts)
Ukraine crisis may delay Arctic coal port: Vice Premier Arkady Dvorkovich told a meeting that infrastructure investments in recently annexed Crimea might necessitate a cut in the government’s support for a coal port in Murmansk. (Worldcrunch)

China to build new coal plant in Bosnia: A Chinese consortium was the only bidder for a US$1.16 billion project to build a 450 MW coal plant in Bosnia. (Reuters)

Arch losses shock investors: Previously a bright spot among coal companies, shares in Arch Coal dropped after the company reported losses due to weak metallurgical coal sales and outlook. (The Motley Fool)


“Our politicians never really did look ahead in this county for when coal wouldn’t be king. Therefore, we’ve fallen flat on our face,”

said Martin B. West, Sheriff of McDowell County, West Virginia, explaining the county’s poverty and social disintegration.


Environmental Justice Atlas, EJOLT, April 2014

This global compilation includes 90 case studies of coal-related grassroots conflict in 18 countries. 

Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences: 2014 Coal Finance Report Card, Rainforest Action Network, April 2014

Among  11 major banks, only JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and HSBC received grades above “D” in RAN’s fifth annual assessment of coal financing.
Suggested Tweet: Banks sank over US$31 billion into the worst companies in the #coal industry last year: #StopMTR

The Visible Impacts, National Geographic, April 2014
A photo gallery of the impacts of coal use across the globe.

take action

Save Jamaica’s Goat Islands

Jamaican activists are asking Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller to end the secrecy surrounding the plans of China Harbour Engineering Company to establish a mega-freighter seaport, including a coal-fired power plant, in the Goat Islands, heart of the ecologically fragile Portland Bight Protected Area. See actions here:

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