Here in Wyoming, we keep on fighting the coal battles and believe somehow that we’re winning the war.

And the “War on Coal,” no matter how much the Wyoming congressional delegation cries, seems like a very real thing.

The truth may be: Wyoming hasn’t taken it seriously enough, believing that press releases with strongly - worded statements from politicians would be enough to frighten the Environmental Protection Agency or the Obama administration into easing off the coal restrictions.

And if it’s true that Wyoming has not taken the war on coal seriously enough, we don’t believe the country has taken it seriously enough either.

The perception of coal consumption in America is tall smokestacks belching thick, black smoke. The perception of coal is dirty, dusty and oily.

But perception is a lot different than reality. Coal has become cleaner and utility companies have spent small fortunes on technology that makes emissions better. Much of the smoke coming from stacks isn’t actually smoke, but steam.

True enough: Coal is not completely clean. The only coal that has zero impact or that is clean is that which still is in the ground.

However, opponents of coal-fired power plants have an easy sell to the public when coal is the enemy. They play off a perception, not a reality.

What would be a lot harder to sell folks would be the huge hike in power bills if all the coal-fired electricity generation were cut out of the grid. Currently most estimates peg coal-fired power plant generation to make up nearly 40 percent of the supply.

Try cutting 40 percent of the power out of the grid. What would happen? Blackouts? Huge hikes in power bills? Some very testy folks?

Whatever the answer to that theoretical question should be answered by those who believe cutting coal out of the energy picture is as simple as outlawing it.

We’ve heard plenty from the EPA and the Obama administration about the dramatic new rules for coal-fired plants. Essentially, the administration is asking the impossible, essentially banning coal without using those words. Technology simply doesn’t exist to implement the so-called “clean coal” standards economically. And energy producers know it.

Most speculate that coal’s loss will be other natural resources’ gain. For example, pulling coal from the market will likely mean a huge increase in demand for natural gas, the most likely replacement fuel for coal.

If natural gas is the go-to energy replacement for coal, that’s good news for Wyoming, which also sees strong economic benefits from natural gas.

But like all supply-and-demand propositions, natural gas will unlikely stay cheap forever. And, the cost of natural gas will dictate the price of energy.

We’re concerned anytime an industry produces something as essential as power and only relies on one generation source. We believe America should ensure that there are a variety of ways to generate power so that the country is not beholden to only one fuel.

This might be a wonderful opportunity for the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources to play a leadership role either developing more clean-coal technology or working to help pioneer hybrid generation plants that rely on a variety of sources, for example, wind, natural gas and solar.

Finally, with every passing new regulation it seems as if our lawmakers hope the fist-pounding, and the press releases will somehow grab the attention of the federal government. We like their hope but we don’t share their same optimism. Instead, we believe that Wyoming must seriously consider what the war on coal will mean for the state of Wyoming if it is on the losing side. We must not only just sock away money in case coal is edged out of our energy portfolio, whether domestic or abroad. We must do a better job of articulating that reality. There are far too many communities that rely on coal for jobs, and the state depends on revenue from the coal industry. We also must do a better job telling power-hungry customers what blocking coal means for their power bills.

Now is the time to quit talking about how we wish things were and start discussing how they might actually be.

(7) comments

pappy

The UW school of Energy Resources and the coal industry should have under taken this work 10-15 years ago. Instead they stuck their heads in the stand and said we are to big to be forced to clean up our act. As to the cost of natural gas going up; it might some but it hasn't happened to coal because of the supply. Natural gas supplies are bigger than coal, it it will remain cheap for a long time. So king coal better figure out how to compete, or they will go the way of eastern coal mines.

Cody Coyote

The mean old robber baron named King Coal grabbed the CST editorial board by the short hairs, held a gun to their head, and made them write foul deceitful things.

This editorial is as much propaganda as anything. Half truth or no truth at all . There is no " War" on coal. That's just a bumper sticker snort. But there is a whole lotta pandering to the coal industry printed here in long paragraph style . The Company Line.

Sorry to say it , but Wyoming bet the ranch on coal, and lost the bet. Now the entire globe is wanting to shift away from burning coal . THAT only took 200 years to realize. Inertia and the slack in economics will extend Wyoming's coal sales a few more years, but with ever diminishing returns. We need to use those few years to do two things: (1). Raise the state severance tax on coal to 15 percent , or at the very least back to where it once was 10.5 percent. Soon . Now. While we can still sell the dark foul rock at all. Contrary to industry alarmism and propaganda, raising the severance tax does NOT cost jobs and revenue. We have a UW study that proves otherwise, commissioned by and then buyried by the Legislature in 1999 ( Shelby Gerking et al ) (2.) Use those proceeds to prepare Wyoming for a future without coal. We need a Plan B. There is little to no coal in Wyoming's future. Another " Bust" is coming. Have we not learned anything around here ?

After reading this jaded one sided misguided editorial, I wonder...

QB14

Well, well, it appears that "Cody Coyote" is an environmental activist. That explains alot about her electoral preferences.

Noone who follows EPA and President Obama can reasonably deny that the current Administration is fighting to end coal production and power generation. Read the new proposed rules. Look at what is said publicly.

I agree with the editorial in one important respect: Our Wyoming delegation is occasionally voicing its complaints, but is ineffective at any organized opposition to the war on coal. Indeed, our delegation is not even half as vocal as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio or other states. But here's my point: If we had folks in office with some genuine experience working against regulatory abuse -- like you get if you actually serve in an executive branch agency -- they might well be much more effective.

Here are a few clues for our delegation:

1. Get on the EPA appropriations subcommmittee and work a deal to help our in-state industry (duh!) either by defunding, or adding a rider that limits what EPA can do here.

2. Organize and help raise money for private litigants who can sue EPA and help the afflicted in our state.

3. Lead a PR campaign to explain to America what the household cost of abandoning coal really is.

4. Show up with your constituents in the EPA Regional Office and sit on the bureacrats who are doing this to our people.

5. Haul the AA and Deputy AA for Air up to your office and make their lives miserable until they give Wyoming producers a break.

6. Be an ADVOCATE for your citizens.

There are many more options a properly motivated Senator would have here; these are just a few. A truly active and aggressive person could do a lot better than what we have now. Senators have lots of power if they choose to use it.


And by the way, check the satellite photos of the polar ice cap this year. More ice than at any point in the last three decades.

6.

Cody Coyote

Yes, QB14, as a matter of fact I am an environmentalist. Have been since 1969. Science made me go there, and definitely not the Dismal Science that is economics. I'm unaffilated with any green organization, so don;t be branding me.

Let me ask you a couple things. Your argument seem to advocate for coal based entirely on the money. You say nothing of the consequences of burning coal or even a sideways glance about the science of Old Coal and new Coal or Any Coal at all. What good is money if you have no habitable planet to spend it on ?

You know it is not the EPA driving much of the downturn in coal demand and therefore Wyoming production and jobs It's the market . Those big strip mines in Campbell County will slowly sublimate away when Arch and Peabody and Cloud Peak and peter Kiewet can no longer make any money. Simple as that . Dismal accounting prevails.

All the EPA counter-activism and storming the bastilles of government to push for more coal production will not help over the long haul. The " haul" from the Powder river Basin to any seaport on the West Coast via 100-car coal trains is looking more iffy every day. All the old coal fired old tech pwoerplants are rightfully and forcefully being mandated to clean up their acts. That usually means switching to natural gas. Everybody has a gas seam under their place these days. We can't sell much Wyoming gas to folks who already have their own enarby. California will not save us: that state requires any utility selling fossil fuels for energy in that state also privide a substantial amount of non-fossil energy such as wind and solar as an offest.

Carbon regulation and carbon taxes are coming. Why ? Because nobody , not even God, can break the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and chemistry . We humans can twist the books and torque the dollars, but we cannot fool Mother Nature. We are wrecking the planet and She knows it. Enjoy what prosperity you have left peddling the heroin of hydrocarbon fuels on the street , because your market is withering.

Wyoming does, in fact, need to get ready for the day when the rest of the world no longer wants our dirty ugly black rock that burns. That day will be here sooner than you think. No more will Wyoming be allowed to export 1.3 billion tons of CO2 along wit its 440 milliontons of low grade sub-B wet coal epr year. production is already declining, big time. I give it maybe ten more years at best before coal is no longer our source of state revenue around here. It's always been Dirty Money.

Here are some arctic Sea Ice seen from satellite images articles for you to ponder. Pay attention to the first LANDSAT images from 1972 compared to now.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/04/24/178837460/1960s-satellite-images-add-to-evidence-of-shrinking-sea-ice

http://www.oceansinc.org/2013/02/nasa-images-confirm-arctic-ocean-sea.html

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

If you would really enjoy a 90 minute short course in the effects of man caused climate change on the globe as seen from satellites and the data they create, watch the outstanding PBS program of NOVA " Earth From Space" online, which first aired in June. it will definitely show you what you cannot 9 or will not ) see for yourself. Just because CO2 and methane are transparent tasteless odorless gases doesn't mean they aren't there...

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/earth-from-space.html

QB14

ha ha ha. Do you also edit a certain newspaper?

"Only six years ago, the BBC reported that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by 2013, citing a scientist in the US who claimed this was a ‘conservative’ forecast. Perhaps it was their confidence that led more than 20 yachts to try to sail the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific this summer. As of last week, all these vessels were stuck in the ice, some at the eastern end of the passage in Prince Regent Inlet, others further west at Cape Bathurst.


Shipping experts said the only way these vessels were likely to be freed was by the icebreakers of the Canadian coastguard. According to the official Canadian government website, the Northwest Passage has remained ice-bound and impassable all summer.


The BBC’s 2007 report quoted scientist Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, who based his views on super-computer models and the fact that ‘we use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice’.


He was confident his results were ‘much more realistic’ than other projections, which ‘underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice’. Also quoted was Cambridge University expert

Professor Peter Wadhams. He backed Professor Maslowski, saying his model was ‘more efficient’ than others because it ‘takes account of processes that happen internally in the ice’.


He added: ‘This is not a cycle; not just a fluctuation. In the end, it will all just melt away quite suddenly.’


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415191/And-global-COOLING-Return-Arctic-ice-cap-grows-29-year.html#ixzz2gmsfFg5D
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http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/09/28/article-2415191-185A43E400000578-982_640x365.jpgd

sourshoes

Gas?

MuleyHunter

It is sad that the Editorial board decided to write such a tasteless piece. Do you care, at all, about the future of humanity? Cody Coyote is clearly correct and QB14 obviously works for industry.

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