Coal Mining

Jerry Huddleston / Flickr

The Trump administration announced a new rule on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, called the ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule.’ It would put regulatory power in states’ hands.

The Obama administration had previously tried to enact something called the Clean Power Plan, which was considered the country’s primary strategy for lowering emissions to meet its 2030 target under the Paris climate agreement.

A federal watchdog group said the U.S. Interior Department didn’t give an adequate reason for cancelling a study on the health impacts of coal mining last year.

A U.S. district court judge has struck down the City of Oakland’s ban on transporting coal through a planned export terminal there.

Clean Power Plan Rollback: Five Things To Know

Oct 10, 2017
Stephanie Joyce / Inside Energey

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan  — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. Here are five things you should know:

What is the Clean Power Plan anyway?

The 2015 rule aimed at reducing carbon emissions nationwide by moving the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards cleaner sources of energy. It was this nation’s most ambitious proposal to fight climate change.  Here’s an easy video explainer of the whole plan:

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Colorado is a resilient state. The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and the population along the Front Range is booming. It’s easy to see the impact of a strong economy in Denver. Construction cranes are up all over the city and it’s harder than ever to find affordable housing.

But it’s a different story in many parts of western Colorado.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

At 11 p.m. on a recent Friday night, the West Elk Mine outside Somerset opened its gates. Cars and trucks started rolling out, signaling the end of a coal mining shift in this rural pocket of Colorado.

Workers had been opening up a new section of the mine four or five miles underground, a tough job made tougher considering that the current economics of the coal industry means fewer workers at the mine.

Gail Schwartz at a campaign event in Steamboat Springs.
Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

In a hotel ballroom, at the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, and their surrogates, tick through talking points.

“There are two issues I know of Scott Tipton cares very, very deeply about. One of them is water. The other one is energy,” Chuck McConnell, of the Routt County Republicans, said. 

As Our Energy Wants Change, Where Does Coal Stand?

Jul 28, 2016
Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

As of 2015, Coal production is at its lowest level since 1986, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That means coal companies are struggling to operate in a weak market.

A local effect is that Routt County, home to the Twentymile Mine, found its budget falling short due to a missed tax payment. The small school district there was counting on those funds and the state had to step in with a loan – although Peabody Energy did eventually get permission from the bankruptcy court to pay its taxes. But the decline of the coal industry is massive and widespread.

Colorado's coal country is experiencing the same slump that is gripping the heart of more traditional mining locales, like Wyoming or West Virginia.

"We see the trains and we hear the trains, and they used to be often. Daily," says Darci Mohr, the superintendent for South Routt County School District. "Now we hear one every five to six days."

Cheaper natural gas has dealt a blow to the coal industry -- and to Mohr's school district. Before the district opened an all-day preschool in the small town of Yampa, there wasn't an affordable day care program for this mostly working class community. When Peabody Energy, owner of Routt County's Twentymile Mine, went into bankruptcy and failed to pay property taxes, it would have been the first thing to go. But Mohr wasn't about to let that happen.

Wyoming Wants Wind Energy Factory Jobs. Colorado Has Them

Jul 26, 2016
Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Wyoming has lost hundreds of coal mining jobs in 2016. In contrast to coal, the renewables industry is growing nationwide. Generation capacity is projected to jump more than 50 percent by 2040, even in the absence of new environmental regulations. With that growth, there's a need for more components like blades and towers to build wind farms.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead's long-term energy strategy for the state includes plans to attract this kind of manufacturing. You only have to look to the state's neighbor to the south, Colorado, to find those kind of production jobs.

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