Governor Matt Mead says there’s no question that Taiwan and South Korea want Wyoming coal. Mead just returned from a trip to those countries where he met with government leaders, trona industry representatives, and attended events promoting tourism in Wyoming. He says exporting Wyoming coal is still a good idea.
The Sierra Club and partner organizations filed a lawsuit today against BNSF Railways and several coal producers. The suit claims the companies are violating the federal Clean Water Act when they discharge coal dust along railways from the Powder River Basin without permits to do so.
Pacific Northwest Regional Press Secretary for Sierra Club’ Beyond Coal campaign, Krista Collard, says a letter of intent to file the suit was sent to all parties two months ago, but they did little to limit coal dust pollution.
As demand for coal has dropped domestically, producers have turned to exports abroad as a way to make up for market losses at home. 2012 was a record year for coal exports out of the US.
The demand for coal in China and other Asian markets, has raised hopes for coal producers in the Powder River Basin. They’ve helped develop plans for expanded port facilities in the Northwestern US and some coal companies, including Arch Coal, have invested money in the proposed ports.
Governor Matt Mead and his policy director, Shawn Reese, released an energy policy for Wyoming at a press conference today. The policy contains 47 initiatives broken down into categories including economic competitiveness and expansion, regulation, conservation, and education. Reese said there were a number of hallmark initiatives.
A coal industry roundtable discussion left some people feeling more optimistic about Wyoming coal industry than they had been before. During last Thursday’s meeting – called “Powder River Basin Coal: Domestic Challenges and International Opportunities” – presenters discussed everything from new regulations, to growing exports, and domestic issues. Tim Considine of UW’s Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy helped organize the event. He says he was surprised by some of what he heard.
This year’s U.S. coal shipments went up about 24% from 2011 export numbers – and that’s only as of October. Exports still make up a relatively small percentage of total production, but with domestic use going down and world-wide demand going up, coal producers in places like Wyoming are looking to foreign markets to keep sales steady. For now, though, ports capable of handling truly large coal shipments are just in the planning stages. And Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy director, Tim Considine, says foreign sales won’t solve all of the industry’s problems.
A Wyoming Republican legislator is optimistic following his return from a coal-energy conference in China. Governor Matt Mead and a delegation of state officials, specialists, and students, learned about what the governor’s office calls “greener” mining technologies, and new ways to use coal.
Gillette Representative Tom Lubnau says the conference was also an opportunity for Wyoming government officials to interface with their Chinese counterparts about the possibility of China importing Wyoming’s coal.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and a delegation of state officials will tout Wyoming’s coal and abundant energy resources in China this week. The group is attending the 2012 International advanced Coal Technologies Conference. Governor Mead says this could turn out to be an important trip.
“This is a big enough issue, that is coal and energy to Wyoming, that collectively we all need to see what others have done and see if we can take back some good ideas.”
There are more new ports designed for coal export being proposed in the U.S. and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal producers are training their eye on the developments. With some of the most efficient economies of scale in the world, a larger percentage of PRB coal could be making its way across the ocean soon. What would that mean for Wyoming and the global community? Irina Zhorov reports.