Monday, November 12, 2012

Coal industry hopes Obama will go easier on it; might it be whistling past the graveyard?

President Obama probably doesn't feel like doing any favors for the coal industry, after its "war on coal" rhetoric was used to attack him in key battleground states like Ohio and Virginia (both of which he carried), but the industry is making guardedly optimistic noises, noting Obama's support for clean-coal technology, and hoping for some leniency in water- and air-pollution regulation.

Coal-company stocks fell 9 to 23 percent the day after the election, notes James Bruggers of The Courier-Journal in Louisville. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.4 percent. Coal officials told Bruggers they hope the administration will relax some Environmental Protection Agency regulations, which would make mining and burning coal more costly in Obama's second term. "We are hopeful the president's pro-coal comments from the campaign reflect a new direction for his administration," Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett said. (Read more)

Coal interests may have some reason to be hopeful, The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward Jr. writes. The day after the election, the U.S. Forest Service ruled against conservation groups who challenged the agency's expansion of a coal-mine lease 10 miles east of Paonia, Colo. The ruling will allow Arch Coal to build 48 natural-gas drilling pads on almost 1,700 acres of the Sunset Roadless Area, a section of wild forest. Ward notes that Arch's West Elk Mine is partly located in Gunnison County, one of only two of the top 25 coal-producing counties to vote for Obama.

But for coal operator Robert Murray, who hosted a rally for Mitt Romney that Ohio miners were asked to attend without pay, the war rages on. Murray made good on a promise he made to lay off miners if Obama was re-elected. More than 150 of owner of Murray Energy Corp.'s 3,500 miners were fired, the largest number at a Utah mine that was the scene of a 2007 disaster. The layoff notices "blamed Obama's 'war on coal' for the job cuts," Allison Linn of CNBC reports. Murray predicted the "total destruction of the coal industry" by 2030, and said increased regulations were one reason for the layoffs. (Read more)

UPDATE: Ken Ward Jr. asks in his Coal Tattoo blog, "Does the mining industry not understand who won the presidential election?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe miners read past the rhetoric of their bosses and realized who was really on their side and voted for Obama. It's a sad day when a coal mine operator can throw people out of work in a fit of pique but very telling about how small-minded and backward-looking the people who run the coal industry really are.