Coal Mining

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A coal mine in Delta County announced Wednesday it is laying off 150 workers, over 40 percent of its workforce. The Bowie #2 mine layoffs follow the shutdown one year ago of another area mine, which laid off nearly 300 workers.

Colorado's 12 coal mines produced almost 29 million short tons of coal a year, according to 2012 figures from the Energy Information Administration [.pdf]. These latest layoffs are part of a downturn in coal's fortunes, which could continue to affect rural areas of the state that depend on coal for high-paying jobs. 

What's The Regulatory Threshold For Oil Industry Fatalities?

Sep 16, 2014
Centers For Disease Control

As the oil and gas industry has grown to employ over half a million oil and gas workers nationwide, the number of fatalities has grown as well. In 2013, 112 oil and gas workers died on the job; the year before, 142. Nationwide, oil and gas workers are still six times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American.

Texas had the most fatalities overall in 2011 and 2012 – 106 – but, according to a new analysis by Inside Energy, North Dakota had the highest fatal injury rate in the country, 75 deaths per 100,000 workers. That's three times higher than the national rate for oil and gas fatalities.

Which raises a question, how bad does it have to get before regulators and elected officials step in and do something?

Coal Culture Runs Deep Through Wyoming

Aug 11, 2014
Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Girls in clunky roller skates whiz past their coach. They're sweaty, rowdy, and covered in tattoos. Gillette's roller derby team proudly represents coal country, as does their name.

"We’re called the Coal Miner’s Daughters, number one because Loretta Lynn rocks!" Katie Buffington, president of the team, explained. "Number two because coal is the main source of income in the area. And we really wanted to get back to our roots, where we come from."

Luke Runyon / KUNC

The mountains surrounding New Castle, Colorado are on fire. But don’t panic. They’re always on fire, under the surface, out of sight.

The town, 12 miles west of Glenwood Springs and an inevitable stop along I-70, is home to some of the oldest burning coal seam fires in the country. While the fires themselves smolder underground, barren scars on the mountain sides are a reminder of their presence.

The coal industry made its presence known in Pittsburgh this week for public hearings on President Obama's controversial plan to address climate change. A key element is rules the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June. They would cut greenhouse gas emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide — from existing power plants. The national goal is 30 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Denver on proposed rules to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Denver hearing is one of several the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting across the country on the plans.

Skip Stiles stands on the edge of a small inlet known as the Hague, near downtown Norfolk, Va. The Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby, as are dozens of stately homes, all threatened by the water.

New federal regulations announced Monday aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

The draft proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency has sparked opposition from industry groups who say the changes would be prohibitively expensive. But the proposal's backers say the rules are needed to cut carbon pollution that scientists say contributes to climate change.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET: Proposed Rule Published

Coal Power Wary As New Greenhouse Gas Regs Loom

May 30, 2014
born1945 / Flickr - Creative Commons

The predicted effects of continuing to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at current rates range from dramatic sea level rise to extreme weather to famine and drought. Power plants are among the largest carbon dioxide emitters, and June 2, the Obama administration is scheduled to release new rules regulating those emissions.

Utilities and trade groups are already warning those rules will have some dire consequences of their own.

EcoFlight /

A continuing energy boom in the Rocky Mountains and Northern Great Plains is reshaping the future of what’s powering America. The three states are feeling this new energy economy differently, and it’s changing political realities in different ways.