CoalWire 93, June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015

features

Vietnam’s Vinh Tan 2 power plant a ‘monument to bad ideas’

“The red and white chimney of the Vinh Tan 2 power station towers above the small fishing village of the same name. Built by the Shanghai Electricity Company and powered with coal dust trucked down from Quang Ninh Province, the smoke stack now seems more like a monument to bad ideas—a symbol for everything that’s wrong with Vietnam’s future power plans,” writes Calvin Godfrey in Thanh Nien News.

Suggested Tweet: #Vietnam’s Vinh Tan 2 #coal power plant ‘seems like a monument to bad ideas’ writes @calvintgodfrey @News_Vietnam http://bit.ly/1FyfQmy

Village Rebuilt after Kosovo War at Risk from World Bank-Backed Coal Plant

“After an American-led bombing campaign ran Serb forces out of Kosovo, the people of Hade returned from refugee camps and from havens higher in the mountains. Over the next few years they rebuilt their village and resumed tending their cows and gardens and mining coal for KEK, Kosovo’s state-owned power company. But the homecoming hasn’t turned out the way they hoped … Kosovo’s government, bolstered by money and technical assistance from the World Bank, plans to clear and destroy the village,” writes Michael Hudson in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: Village rebuilt after #Kosovo war at risk from #WorldBank backed #coal plant http://huff.to/1LntG08 @michaelwhudson

Giant New Zealand Native Snails Coal’s Latest Stranded Asset

“Solid Energy [a New Zealand Government-owned coal company] bet big on coal. They bet wrong. And the latest victims of Solid Energy’s arrogance and mismanagement are the giant native snails the company had promised to protect,” writes Tara Forde in Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

Suggested Tweet: Giant New Zealand native snails #coal’s latest stranded asset http://bit.ly/1Kdomzf @taraforde @coalaction

campaigns

Drummond drops Alabama coal mine plan

In the face of opposition from the Birmingham Water Works Board and the Black Warrior Riverkeeper group the Drummond Company has decided not to renew a permit to mine coal on the Shepherd Bend area of the Black Warrior River in Alabama. The proposed open-cut mine would have resulted in coal dust being dumped less than 250 metres from a water intake plant which supplies 200,000 residents in the city of Birmingham. Drummond’s decision was cautiously welcomed by Black Warrior Riverkeeper which wants the University of Alabama to rule out the sale or leasing of mineral rights at Shepherd Bend to any mining company. (Al.com, Black Warrior Riverkeeper)

Suggested Tweet: Congratulations to @BWRiverkeeper as Drummond Company drops Alabama #coal mine plan http://bit.ly/1NaX9vx

top news

Public health commission urges coal phase-out: The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change has described climate change as a “medical emergency” and recommended a phase-out of coal power in order to protect public health. The commission recommends that within the next five years governments should “protect cardiovascular and respiratory health by ensuring a rapid phase out of coal from the global energy mix.” (The Lancet, Carbon Brief)


Taiwan residents have regulator’s power plant decision overturned: Following residents’ protests the Yunlin County Commissioner has overturned a decision by the Yunlin County Environmental Protection Bureau to grant a six-month extension to Formosa Plastics Group for the operation of two coal units at its naphtha plant. At a closed-door meeting with company representative the bureau granted the extension even though they agreed the data supplied by the company was inadequate. The commissioner has directed the company submit new information for a further review. (Taipei Times)


Los Angeles utility moves closer to coal phase-out: Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) has agreed to sell its 21 per cent take in Salt River Project (SRP) which owns the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona. As part of the agreement SRP will close one of the three 750 megawatts (MW) coal units at the plant and the LADWP will be supplied with power from a geothermal plant. LADWP is also negotiating for a switch by 2025 to cleaner power sources at the 1900 MW Intermountain Power Plant in Utah; it has the right to 44 per cent of the output from the plant. (Los Angeles Daily News)

Adani stalls work on giant mine while demanding concessions: Adani has directed four companies to stop preliminary engineering work on the proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. In a subsequent media release Adani sought to blame state and federal government delays in decisions on the project. However, the Queensland Government has called for expressions of interest for the construction and dredging work to expand the Abbot Point coal port. The Queensland Resources Council – which Adani is a member of – has renewed lobbying for public funding of the railway to Abbot Point. (Guardian, Queensland Resources Council)


Kentucky government confirms limited investigation of mine inspector: A former state Democratic congressman, W. Keith Hall, who also owned a coal company, paid tens of thousands of dollars in 2009 and 2010 to Kelly Shortridge, a mine inspector who a federal prosecutor told a Kentucky court, “only wrote up Hall’s mines [for violations] when he had no other choice.” The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet confirmed it had not investigated whether there were potential problems with other mines Shortridge was responsible for. Shortridge has pleaded guilty to soliciting a bribe but has not yet been sentenced. (Kentucky.com)


Opposition grows against Czech Republic mine changes: Protests against the dropping of limits imposed on mines in Northern Bohemia have been held in 21 cities across the Czech Republic. The Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek has proposed the government revisit a ban on mine expansion agreed to in 1991 and flagged four options, three of which allow for mine expansions. The Government is likely to consider the issue in September. (Prague Daily Monitor)

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay,”

stated Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘On care for our common home.’

news

Colombia: Government truncates review process of proposed new La Guajira coal terminal.


India: Murder of Jharkhand politician believed to be due to his activism on coal pollution.


India: State and federal government’s plan new coal port at Dahanu in Maharashtra state.

Scotland: Council plans enforcement action over night-time noise on coal railway.


US: Peabody Energy dropped from Standard & Poors Mid-Cap 400 stock market index.

companies + markets

US railway operator sees ‘stranded assets’ looming: The executive chairman of BNSF Railway Company, Matthew K. Rose, told a US energy industry conference that falling coal volumes was “the fastest changing story in railroading.” He said that after investing “heavily” in upgrading railways to carry Powder River Basin coal, the company would be left with “millions of dollars in investment in what will eventually be stranded assets.” (Electric Co-Op Today)


Fitch warns end of self-bonding would hit US coal companies: Fitch Ratings has warned that strict enforcement of commercial bonding for rehabilitation liabilities would “reduce liquidity and could hasten restructuring” of companies due to their “unsustainably high debt balances over the near term.” The warning follows Wyoming regulators decision to require commercial bonds to cover rehabilitation liabilities for companies which have fallen below set financial thresholds. Fitch states that bonds can be “more than twice” the amount of current provisions on company balance sheets for the retirement cost of a mine. (Fitch Ratings)


More pain for met coal producers with lower Japanese contracts: Australian coal exporters have agreed to sell metallurgical coal to Japanese steel producers for US$93 a tonne for the July quarter, a 15 per cent cut on the preceding quarterly benchmark price. With metallurgical coal having fallen by over 70 percent since the 2011 price peak of US$330 a tonne, highly indebted producers – especially in the US – are facing bankruptcy. Further cuts in mine production are expected. (Wall Street Journal)

Japan to fund Bangladesh coal port: The government-owned Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh has decided to build a new coal port at Matarbari with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). A consortium headed by Japanese company Sumitomo Corporation will build the port which, together with the JICA-funded 1200 megawatt (MW) Matarbari Coal-Fired Power Plant, is estimated to cost US$3.6 billion. A rival Chinese-backed port proposal has stalled. (Bloomberg)


Bloomberg projects solar boom but coal to persist in Asia: Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) latest long-term energy outlook estimates that renewables and coal will account for near equal amounts of new generation capacity in industrialising countries. Even so, BNEF estimates that – on current policy settings – as much as 1291 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity could be added by 2040. (Bloomberg, BNEF)

resources

 Fueling the Fire: how the big banks are using our money to support the dirty fossil fuel industry, Market Forces, June 2015. (Pdf)


This report documents investments by Australian banks and financial institutions in fossil fuel projects between 2008 and 2014. Accompanying the report is a website which allows Australian residents to compare the fossil fuel lending levels of competing banks.


(Mis)Calculated Risk and Climate Change – Are Rating Agencies Repeating Credit Crisis Mistakes?, Center for International Environmental Law, June 2015. (Pdf)


This report argues that rating agencies may be underestimating climate risks and consequently indirectly inflating the credit ratings of companies contributing most to global warming. The report uses Moody’s Ratings assessment of the Abbot Point coal terminal in Australia as an example.

At Your Own Risk: Reprisals against Critics of World Bank Group Projects, Human Rights Watch, June 2015. (Large Pdf)


This report catalogues the harassment of critics of World Bank-funded projects by governments and companies and how, in many instances, the bank failed to respond appropriately. The report briefly mentions the Modi Government’s campaign of harassment aimed at Greenpeace India.


The Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, Communitywise Bellingham, June 2015. (Pdf)


This report examines the potential economic impacts on Whatcom County if the development of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal for coal exports proceeded.