Climate Action Plan has Major Implications for Coal

By Brian Sewell In late June, President Obama announced his administration’s climate action plan. The speech at Georgetown University signaled to Congress that the president was keeping his promise to come up with executive actions to address the threat of climate change, and reignited claims of a “war on coal” in Central Appalachia and nationwide.…

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Oil and Gas Boom Straining America’s Energy Infrastructure

By Brian Sewell The United States is experiencing a natural gas boom largely due to advances in drilling and extraction technologies. And in recent years, some have celebrated the fuel as a bridge to a clean energy and carbon-free future. But according to a report by the Center for American Progress, the other side of…

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New Rules Stoke Fear of Fracking on Public Lands

By Brian Sewell When the U.S. Department of the Interior released updated draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian lands, environmental advocates responded much as they did when the initial draft was released in 2012 — with disappointment. In the days following the Interior’s announcement, federal officials and Secretary Sally Jewell were…

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Court Rulings Favor Clean Water

By Brian Sewell Two consecutive court rulings in April affirmed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to veto mountaintop removal valley fill permits and called for increased scrutiny of the practice’s environmental impacts during the permitting process. On April 22, the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals revoked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ use of…

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Report Tracks Appalachian Coal’s Continuing Decline

By Brian Sewell A report released in May by the West Virginia-based consulting firm Downstream Strategies underscores the need for investment in Central Appalachian counties hardest hit by a decline in coal production and demand. By looking at market and regulatory factors, plus trends in the U.S. and abroad, the report offers a comprehensive examination…

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Permit to Mine Ison Rock Revoked In the latest chapter of a six-year battle between A&G Coal Corporation and the citizens of Wise County, Va., the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy denied a 1,200-acre mountaintop removal coal mining permit on Ison Rock Ridge, which would have buried 14,000 feet of streams. The department…

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OSM Approves Expansion of Appalachia’s Largest Slurry Impoundment The Federal Office of Surface Mining recently approved an expansion of the Brushy Fork impoundment in West Virginia — one of the largest slurry disposal sites in the country — to hold two billion more gallons of the waste produced from washing coal. Unless the West Virginia…

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Appalachian States Reconsider the Role of Coal Severance Taxes

By Brian Sewell Lawmakers in Central Appalachia are seeking legislative solutions to counter declining severance tax revenue after decades of natural resource extraction. Although not all of the counties in coal-producing states in Appalachia have minable coal, they all benefit from severance taxes, which generate millions of dollars used to improve roads, build flood controls…

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