Coal Production is Increasing in Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky’s coal production has picked up again, as we see mines employing new workers. In general, production is growing across the state, though it is decreasing in Eastern Kentucky.

In 2013, production in Eastern Kentucky decreased while Western Kentucky skyrocketed by 90 percent since 2003. According to Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, production was dropping in Western Kentucky due to the area’s high concentration of sulphur; however, mines in Western Kentucky have since installed scrubbers, which cleanse the coal of pollutants and, in turn, have increased production.

According to the most recent Kentucky Quarterly Coal Report, which includes production from July through September, Kentucky generated 19.9 million tons during the three month period.

For the past three quarters, total Kentucky coal production has increased; but while Western mines’ production have risen by 5.2%, Eastern mines’ production has fallen by 4.3%. Analysts anticipate that production from the coal basin, including Western Kentucky, will see an upsurge in the following 25 years.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

December 2, 2014

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Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Climate panel: Time to act is now” – Politico, 31 March 2014

In March, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report that urged the world to come to a consensus on a new global climate agreement. The effects of climate change are worsening and will continue to endanger crop yields, the lives of poorer populations, low-lying lands, aggravate droughts and even provoke wars.

The US and the rest of the world must agree on a global climate agreement by the end of 2015, which would become enforced in 2020. For the agreement to have any impact, both the US and the world’s biggest polluters—such as India and China—must cooperate on the agreement’s terms.

The US, however, is still up in arms about its climate policy. To combat the climate skeptics, Obama has begun pushing his climate policy—like regulations on new power plants and limiting international coal use—through executive branch actions. Climate skeptics are fighting Obama’s executive orders in the House and the courts, justifying that the world isn’t actually warming and the US can’t enforce such harsh regulations when major polluters aren’t following suit.

The report details how the poor and other marginalized groups of people will bear the brunt of climate change impacts through employment, lowered crop yields and soaring food prices. There are also other risks, such as:

  • Agriculture: Wheat and corn have weathered the worst effects of climate change. Food accessibility and food prices could also be affected.
  • Global security: Low crop yields and high sea levels will lead to displacement, and will increase and cause new security worries.
  • Human health: Human health will worsen due to extreme heat waves, wildfires, bad nutrition and diseases spread through water and food.
  • Water: Water levels will plummet as greenhouse gases increase. Some areas will have lower sea levels and some, like low-lying areas and islands, will experience floodings.

A report on methods to counteract climate change will be published in April in Berlin. A final report with all the information will be released in Copenhagen in October.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 2, 2014

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Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Coal Scrubbers Give Illinois Basin New Life” – Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2014

Natural gas has been dominating the news, and many feel that the influx of the major energy source has inadvertently waged a war on coal. US coal production dropped 7% in 2012, but now coal is making a resurgence, mainly due to the Illinois Basin, which extends from Illinois to Missouri, Indiana and Western Kentucky.

The Illinois Basin was a key US coal basin, until the Clean Air Act of 1970 passed, making the Illinois Basin unfavorable for mining. Illinois coal has elevated levels of sulfur, which is partially responsible for acid rain. However, widespread use of scrubbing technology has allowed for mines in Illinois to reopen—scrubbing technology can lift 97% of a coal-fired power plants’ sulfur dioxide. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted that Illinois would generate 56 million tons of coal in 2013, a 70% increase from 2010. The Illinois Basin is anticipated to produce more coal than Central Appalachia, another major US coal basin.

While natural gas has been a huge boost to our economy and is the cleaner energy source, the coal industry provides the US with many jobs. There will be more jobs available as the basin reopens near railroads and along the Mississippi River.

As the US inches towards a more desired energy independence and security, we must continue to pursue a prudent “all of the above ” energy strategy.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 21, 2014

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“China’s Soaring Coal Consumption Poses Climate Challenge” – Scientific American, 30 January 2013

China’s fast growing population has continued to affect the country’s coal consumption: from 2000-2011, the country has burned 2.3 billion tons of coal to operate power plants, industrial boilers and other fuel-burning equipment needed to bolster the economy.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), China has become “the world’s dominant coal-consuming country, shooting past rival economies like the United States, India and Russia, as well as regional powers, such as Japan and South Korea.”

China uses almost the same amount of coal as the entire world. China’s 2011 increase in coal consumption, which totaled an astounding 325 million tons, accounted for the majority of the world’s coal consumption — China burned 87% of the world’s 374 million tons. Since 2000, China has had a 200-percent increase in consumption, indicating that more power plants are needing to be powered with coal.

EIA reports that most of China’s coal is imported from the US; in 2012, China imported 8.3 million tons of US coal. In 2011, China only imported 4 million tons. According to the National Mining Association projections, US coal exports will decrease by 10% in 2013, to 111 million tons. Though other developing countries, such as India, have yet to surpass China’s rate of consumption, there will be a high demand for coal, as coal is used in steelmaking and to generate many countries’ power, amongst other things.

Figures from the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association show that China is both the world’s biggest foreign coal purchaser and coal producer. In recent projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2017 coal will trump oil as the global energy source in all parts of the world, save the US.

Climate change has been linked to the collection of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Given the world’s recent attention to climate change, the IEA’s findings seem to be a 2 steps forward, 1 step back approach to righting our carbonic wrongs.

Water affluence and discharges to local rivers, and solid wastes and dumps to local landfills cause only local pollution. However, gaseous pollution, such as global warming, and greenhouse gases pose a problem for the entire human race, as the gases quickly join and intermix with the upper atmosphere. Exporting coal from US to China only shifts the location of carbon dioxide generation, but not its effect on the entire planet’s current and future climate.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 13, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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