CoalWire 20, 16th January 2014

campaigns

Chilean Supreme Court rules against power plant

The Supreme Court of Chile has ruled in favour of environmentalists and fishermen challenging the operation of the 128-megawatt (MW) Bocamina I power plant. The legal challenge followed the mass deaths of prawns and crabs near the plant in March last year. “The company can only operate Bocamina I and II if … water suction doesn’t threaten nor harm species and hydro-biological resources, and strictly abides by its environmental license,” the Supreme Court ruled. However, the court stopped short of directing the plant be closed, instead leaving the decision to the government regulator. The Bocamina power station is operated by a subsidiary of Endesa Chile, a part of the Enel Group. (Reuters,  BBC)

top news

Charges to be laid over Indian coal allocation: The Central Bureau of Investigation is set to file charges against seven companies which received coal allocations. The CBI, under the supervision of the Supreme Court, is investigating the allocation of 195 coal blocks, with evidence of cheating, criminal misconduct and corruption in 16 instances so far. The Supreme Court is set to review a progress report from the CBI this week. (Times of India)

Public consultation scrapped on Indian mine expansions: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has announced that existing mines which produce up to 8 million-tonnes-per-annum (mtpa) can increase production by up to 50 per cent without being subject to public hearing.  The new policy could result in the government-owned Coal India, which has approximately 400 mines under the 8mtpa threshold, increasing production by over 30-40 million tonnes a year. (Economic Times)

Budget bill moves to protect US coal: A provision of a bipartisan Congressional budget bill aims to limit the ability of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States to restrict finance for new overseas coal projects. The provision expands the list of countries eligible for financing to include India and Vietnam, amongst others. If passed, the provision in the bill will expire in September. (Reuters, National Journal)

West Virginia coal chemical spill: 300,000 residents of West Virginia were left without water after more than 28,000 litres of a chemical used to process coal was spilled from a storage tank at a chemical plant into the Elk River. In the wake of the spill, environmental groups have argued that the spill illustrates the need to overhaul the state’s environmental regulatory structure.(New York Times, New York Times)

news

Australia: Indian company Lanco looks to offload loss-making WA coal project.

Australia: Blockade resumes over Maules Creek coal project.

China: Small drop in coal use in energy mix.

Canada: Coal train derails with three wagons spilling coal into creek.

Spain: Court rejects bid to keep subsidised coal mines open past 2018.

India: Coal India has received a go-ahead for 23 projects.

“Well, coal exports are just about the only bright light in the coal business these days,”

said  Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers explaining why he pushed for pro-coal measures to be included in a congressional budget bill.

companies + markets

Clean coal fraud:  Bob Walker, the former CEO of Bixby Energy Systems, which promoted a ‘clean coal’ plant technology, is being tried in the US District Court on charges of fraud, conspiracy, tax evasion and witness tampering. Despite the company’s test coal gasification units in China not working, prosecutors allege Walker continued to tout the technology to investors.(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Indian Coal Ministry pushes for fast-track for rail links: The Ministry of Coal is pressing the Indian Government’s Cabinet Committee on Investment to prioritise the construction of three railway upgrades to help expand Coal India’s coal production. Two of the projects are in Jharkhand and one in Odisha. The ministry is pushing for a resolution on approvals for the use of forests and land acquisition disputes. (Economic Times)

Losses mount from Sri Lanka coal plant:Just a day after being restarted, the plant broke down for the 26th time. With the Ceylon Electricity Board having to spend US$3.3 million a day to buy alternative diesel power during shutdowns, the financial losses from the Lakwijaya Coal Power Plant continue to mount. The Sunday Star Times has editorialised that the problems at the plant demonstrate the need for right to information laws. (The Sunday LeaderSunday Star Times)

Mongolian exports fall: The National Statistics Office reports that coal exports fell 12% to 18.3 million tonnes in 2013 while the value plummeted 41% to US$1.12 billion. After the 2008 coal price spike, Mongolia was touted as a major new export coal producer .(Bloomberg)

Polish plant proceeds despite financial doubts: PGE, a majority government-owned utility, has announced that it will proceed with the construction of a 1800MW lignite-fired plant at the existing Opole power station. In 2013 the former chief executive of PGE opposed the US$3.78 billion proposal as uneconomic, but the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk insisted the project proceed.(UPI)

resources

Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal — 2014 Update, Union of Concerned Scientists, January 2014. 

This report examines changes in consumption for the 37 thermal coal-importing states and argues that the US$19.4 billion cost would have generated greater local economic benefits if spent on local end-use efficiency improvements and renewables.

take action

Public comments sought on US EPA’s carbon pollution standards

The Sierra Club is encouraging supporters to submit public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.  Comments can be submitted via the Sierra Club’s page here. Public comments are sought preferably before February 7 and by March 10 at the latest.