CoalWire 30, 27th March 2014

campaigns

Activists expose Duke Energy pollution

When Waterkeeper Alliance and Cape Fear Riverkeeper members were directed by police to stop taking water samples near two Duke Energy coal ash dams in North Carolina, they opted for aerial surveillance instead. The photos revealed Duke Energy employees pumping effluent from two coal ash ponds into the Cape Fear River, a local water supply. Regulators estimated that 61 million gallons of effluent were pumped into the river over a period 78 days. Duke Energy has been served with a notice of violation over the pollution and could be fined as much as US$25,000 per day. (Triple Pundit, New York Times)

top news

Indian environmental court rejects Adani forest approvals: The National Green Tribunal has overturned Ministry of Environment & Forests approval for Indian coal company Adani to clear 1900 hectares of forests on two captive coal blocks in Chhattisgarh. The tribunal requested MOEF to seek the opinion of the Forest Advisory Committee on the proposal and suspended work on the site until a fresh decision has been made. (Indian Express)


Aboriginal Land Council rejects coal mine:The Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council argues the proposed Wallarah 2 underground mine proposal by the Korean Government-owned company Kores should be withdrawn. The company requires part of the council’s land for a railway link but has refused to pay a royalty on coal extracted to the council. The NSW State Government is seeking approval for the project despite strong local opposition to the mine. (ABC News, The Australian)


Netherlands adopts restriction on coal lending: Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced that the Netherlands is joining the US and other countries “in agreeing to end support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants abroad except in rare circumstances.” Rutte’s announcement was made at a joint media conference with US President Barack Obama and follows pressure from international environmental groups for a ban on coal financing.(Government of the NetherlandsWhite House)

Legal challenge to Australian coal port expansion: The Mackay Conservation Group is seeking a judicial review of the Australian Government’s approval for the dumping of 3 million tonnes of spoil from a proposed coal port expansion near the Great Barrier Reef. The group argues that Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, has breached Australia’s obligations to protect the World Heritage qualities of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. (ABC News)


Struggle over India’s Mahan forest intensifies: Opposition is intensifying to Essar’s proposed clearance of a 1,000-square-kilometre section of the Mahan forest in Madhya Pradesh. Villagers and Greenpeace India argue that approval last month by the new environment minister Veerappa Moily for the proposed coal mine was in breach of the Forest Rights Act, which aims to protect the forest rights of affected communities. (Reuters, Huffington Post)

“For the first time, we are facing this strange problem. Production plans are going awry as those were based on commitments from utilities, which now are reluctant to lift coal. We might end up missing offtake targets – for no fault of our own,”

said a senior Coal India executive.

news

Australia: Terms of reference for Hazelwood mine fire inquiry announced.


Botswana: MOU signed for development of TransKalahari Railway for coal exports.


Egypt: Egyptian Tourism Federation opposes push for coal imports by cement makers.


Kenya: Government seeks private investment for 960 megawatt (MW) Lamu coal plant.

Mongolia: Government-owned mining company to invest in rail line to China.


UK: Coal-power share of electricity to fall by over half by 2018 despite carbon tax cap.


US: Duke Energy launches charm offensive after coal ash spill.


US: Alaskan senator demands coal plant “without regard to federal permits or restrictions.”

“The decision to loose the Minerals Council [of Australia] on the coal problem says only that the campaign to undermine community, investor and government confidence in Australia’s second-biggest export industry is beginning to develop debilitating momentum,”

writes (paywall) Australian Financial Review columnist Matthew Stevens.

companies + markets

Indian coal imports growth to slow: The government-owned Coal India is set to abandon plans to import five million tonnes of coal due to a fall in demand. While Indian imports are expected to reach 149 million tonnes for 2013/14, up eleven million tonnes on the year before, the rate of growth is expected to slow. A slowing economy and financially distressed distribution companies limiting power purchases are contributing to the slowdown. (Mining Weekly, Business Standard)


Norway rejects coal divestment … for now: A Labour Party proposal that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund divest from coal has been rejected after two minor parties instead opted for a study on the impact of the proposed divestment. The fund currently has coal investments of approximately US$414 million including in BHP Billiton, Bumi, Arch Coal, Peabody Energy and Whitehaven Coal. The Labour Party has foreshadowed that a revised proposal may be resubmitted after April. (Bloomberg)


Four states challenge Tata compensation order: Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat have decided to launch a legal challenge against the order by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) that Tata Power be compensated for unanticipated increases in the cost of Indonesian coal. The states are arguing that the 25-year Power Purchase Agreement Tata Power signed for power from the Tata Mundra plant should not be changed.(Business Standard)

Peabody Energy to produce climate report: Under pressure from the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Peabody Energy has agreed to produce a report on fossil fuels and their contribution to climate change and on the role of carbon capture and storage in limiting climate change. In response, the pension fund withdrew a shareholder resolution seeking an “analysis of long and short term financial and operational risks to the company.” (Office of Connecticut State TreasurerSt. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Mongolian met coal producer flounders:SouthGobi Resources (SGR), a Mongolian metallurgical coal producer, is at risk of defaulting on a US$250 million loan from China Investment Corporation. In its annual report the company states that it “anticipates that coal prices in China will remain under pressure in 2014.” SGR is 56% owned by Turquoise Hill Resources, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto. (SouthGobi Resources, Bloomberg)


Thermal prices to fall further: Bank of America Merrill Lynch has slashed its 2014 estimate for the Newcastle thermal coal, the Pacific market benchmark, from US$82 to US$74 due to slowing Chinese growth and increasing supply. “A combination of widespread loan defaults … and clean air initiatives in China could spell even more trouble for sea-borne coal in the months ahead,” the bank wrote in a research note.(Reuters)

“The [Chinese] coal industry is facing a long-term downturn, like the steel industry,”

said Li Chaolin, from the China Coal Transportation and Sale Society.

resources

Greenpeace Indonesia, How Coal Mining Hurts the Indonesian Economy, March 2014. (Pdf)This 13-page report outlines the economic problems which flow from the massive expansion of coal exports from Indonesia.


Energy Information Administration, “Planned coal-fired power plant retirements continue to increase”, March 20, 2014.

The Energy Information Administration has added a further 5,360 MW of installed coal capacity to be closed by 2020 to its previous estimate of 60,000MW. This article includes a table of the most recently announced planned closures.


World Health Organization, Burden of disease from Household Air Pollution for 2012: Summary of results, March 2012. (Pdf)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that in 2012 3.7 million people died from exposure to outdoor air pollution.


“Climate change and renewable energy” TNS Polska report for AVAAZ, March 2014.

This is a basic opinion poll of 1,000 Polish voters on their attitudes to renewable energy and climate change.

take action

Petition to Green Cross Director to withdraw from Polish coal plant

Dr Jan Kulczyk’s company is the largest investor in the proposed Elektrownia Północ power station in Poland, the biggest planned coal power plant in Europe. Kulczyk is also the Chairman of Green Cross International’s Board of Directors and has previously spoken of the need to take action on climate change.

350.org is seeking signatories on a petition requesting Dr Kulczyk withdraw from the project. You can sign the petition here.

Suggested Tweet:  petitions Dr. Jan Kulczyk  to end investment in proposed Elektrownia Północ  plant