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A Typical Day in the Coal Industry

[ 24 ] May 21, 2012 |

I guess every day is more or less the same in coal industry. What does such a day include?

First, they kill a worker.

Second, they bilk the American taxpayers, making huge profits. Specifically, they buy Wyoming coal for $1.11 per ton, sell it to China for $123 per ton.

Third, when conservative activist groups flee from the Heartland Institute after it compares climate change activists to the Unabomber and Osama bin Laden, they step into make up a big chunk of the funding.

Fourth, they pollute the living heck out of West Virginia.

Fifth, they make huge contributions to climate change.

Again, all in a day’s work for America’s most morally bankrupt industry.

Comments (24)

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  1. howard says:

    actually, i’d say america’s most morally bankrupt industry is finance.

  2. Mr. Universe says:

    Ahem, cough, cough, WIND, cough, cough, Natural Gas, cough, cough, SOLAR, cough.

    Douche.

  3. firefall says:

    You forgot:
    6th Pollute the shit out of the atmosphere with the dirtiest possible version of your fuel

    (to cover all the non-climate-change issues raised by coal)

  4. JRoth says:

    This is what drives me insane about fracking. Clearly awful, and yet almost certainly better than coal.

    I’d like to think that the impact of fracking on populations (mostly) unaffected by coal, plus the super-low price for natural gas right now, would result in starting fracking on a less destructive path, but with the PA state government wholly in the hands of Republicans (thanks to the disaster that was 2010), there’s no hope. Corbett is and the state assembly are basically one-upping each other to give fracking lobbyists ever-bigger orgasms.

    • Murc says:

      I don’t usually advocate people taking the law into their own hands, but I’m just about there with regard to fracking.

      Someone who is deliberately trying to poison you is committing a whole host of crimes, and you have a right to defend yourself from that.

  5. simple mind says:

    A dollar a ton and resell it at $125?? Gods little fishes in trousers!

  6. MDK says:

    A small quibble about the price of of the Wyoming coal: they only paid $1.11 per ton for the rights to the reserve. They still need to develop the land and that requires a very large level of capital investment. So while they will likely turn a profit margin, it will not be the 9x one suggested in the article.

    Further, there currently isn’t a lot of export capacity on the Pacific coast or much rail infrastructure to bring PRB coal in that direction (West coast governors and cities are trying to oppose plans to expnd the existing export terminals). Most of the PRB coal will stay stateside, it is the Appalachian coal that is typically exported.

    But the rest fo the points are spot on.

    • DrDick says:

      Actually Loomis is correct. The actual cost of the Wyoming-Montana coal is currently $9/ton compared to $30-40/ton for Appalachian coal. There is also this. I live in western Montana, in one of the cities affected by the coal trains and it has been an issue before the city council and in the papers.

      • MDK says:

        I wasn’t arguing that the coal price was off, just that the $1.11/ton that was paid for the reserves was not equivlent to the $9/ton they would sell it at domestically (or even the $120+ they would sell it internationally). A ton in the ground is different than a ton in a train car.

        Also, thanks for the Northern Plains link, interesting stuff. Coal producers certainly want to export more to Asia (South Korea and Japan saw a big jump in US imports in 2011), but right now they are constrained by export capacity on the Pacific and rail capacity going west.

        While I can’t find specific numbers for PRB export numbers to asia (in your link one big producer indicated they hoped to get up to 3 million tons). Given the PRB’s huge level of production, these exports it would represent only a small percentage of total production.

        As I said, this is a minor quibble on one point that was raised. Most of that PRB coal that was leased at $1.11/ton will likely be consumed domestically and end up costing more than $1.11/ton to bring it to market. The rest of the points are spot on though.

        • Tyto says:

          Does west coast export capacity hurt them that much? With the Panama Canal now accommodating the higher-draft ships, shouldn’t they be able to go through the Gulf Coast?

          • Erik Loomis says:

            I don’t know all the details, but the West Coast capacity thing is a contested issue right now, with the industry seeking to expand ports to send out more coal.

          • Hogan says:

            Are the rail connections to Galveston or New Orleans any better than the ones to Seattle or Vancouver? I wouldn’t think so.

  7. wengler says:

    Conservatives:

    Hate solar energy currently being produced, love solar energy produced millions of years ago.

  8. DocAmazing says:

    Wind and solar power wouldn’t provide nearly enough energy if we had to shut down every coal power plant in the country tomorrow.

    Good thing there’s a phase-in period, then.

    Conservatives: unable to think outside of the “shit or go blind” paradigm.

  9. DrDick says:

    You could simply have stopped with “Conservatives: unable to think.”

  10. GeoX says:

    So what you’re saying is, you believe there’s absolutely no way for the industry to be anything other than wholly morally bankrupt. Quite an admission from a winger.

  11. DrDick says:

    When I lived in Oklahoma, it was all generated by natural gas. Here in Montana and much of the Northwest it is mostly hydroelectric generation. Glad to see you know as much about this topic as everything else. You must work very hard at it to manage omnignorance.

  12. You’re telling me that my solar panels are actually secretly burning coal?

  13. joe from Lowell says:

    This statement is why we’re the progressives, and you’re not.

    Derp derp, don’t like whale oil? Then don’t have light, derp derp.

  14. mining city guy says:

    Actually I think about 2/3 of the electricity generated in Montana comes from coal-fired generating plants,like the ones located in Colstrip and Hardin with the remaining 1/3 coming from hydroelectric generating plants. http://www.deq.mt.gov/ClimateChange/Energy/EnergySupply/CoalFossiFuelElectricity.mcpx

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