coal

Cooper McKim

A $7.5 million competition to develop products out of carbon dioxide is less than a year away from its final stage. The NRG Cosia Carbon XPRIZE competition will take place at the Integrated Test Center outside of Gillette. Five teams are nearing the point where they can set up operations. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim speaks with Marcius Extavour about how teams are progressing and what's still to come.

Ramaco Carbon's Brook Mine logo
Ramaco Carbon

Last year, the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) denied a coal company's permit to mine. Ramaco had sought a permit to create a mine near Sheridan to research and develop advanced coal-based products. Ramaco Carbon is now appealing the EQC decision in a Laramie County District Court by arguing there was a violation of federal law.

Cooper McKim

Jim Bills stands under a carport at his white ranch-style home in Kemmerer, Wyoming. He's lived in Kemmerer for the past 40 years. He's worked at the Kemmerer coal mine as a truck driver, laborer and driller for 35 years, until he retired. The mine, along with the power plant it feeds, are central pieces of the local economy.

A few of the many letters requesting an equity committee on Cloud Peak's court docket
Prime Clerk

More than 300 individuals who own stock in Cloud Peak Energy are looking for a seat at the table in the coal giant’s bankruptcy. Together, the group owns more than 24 percent of Cloud Peak's stock. The shareholders are asking the court to appoint an equity committee to represent their interests.

A sign for the Kemmerer mine's load-out station
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Westmoreland's Kemmerer coal mine will soon have new owners. The debtors behind the recently bankrupt company will take over and hire a new operator for the mine.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is offering free and confidential screenings for black lung disease. NIOSH is traveling throughout the West and is in the Gillette area through Saturday as part of its Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program. NIOSH is a part of the Centers for Disease Control.

Catherine Wheeler

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee met in Gillette this week to discuss potential closures of coal power plants in the state. Rocky Mountain Power's parent company is considering early retirements of its coal plants finding many of them are uneconomic.

Screenshot of Environmental Quality Council before hearing Mark Thrall
EQC WEB

Contura Coal West would like to renew and transfer permits for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines over to another coal company: Blackjewel. In August 2018, Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deemed the permit application technically complete.

S & P Global Market Intelligence

Back in November, Cloud Peak Energy announced it would consider significant changes to its business. At the time, it was weighted down by nearly $400 million in debt and weakening coal sales. The company was open to a buy-out, a sale of one or all of its coal mines, or finding a way to push back its debt. But nothing worked out. So, on May 10, Cloud Peak had no choice but to go bankrupt.

Screenshot from Cloud Peak's bankruptcy docket page
Prime Clerk

COUNTY TAXES
Last Friday, Cloud Peak Energy chose not pay county taxes to Campbell County. It currently owes a lot - about $8 million. The recently bankrupt coal giant also owes Converse County several million in county taxes that contribute to education funds in addition to county services.

These ratios for Cloud Peak's mines are not only high, but Cordero Rojo's get's increasingly higher. The higher the ratio, the more dirt is necessary to remove before reaching coal.
SEC Filings

Cloud Peak followed up its Friday bankruptcy filing with insight on what's been going on behind the scenes. Like many assumed, the Gillette-based coal giant did seek out buyers. The company had international investment bank J.P. Morgan lead the search. 

Cloud Peak's Gillette-based Cordero Rojo mine.
Cloud Peak Energy

One of the largest domestic coal companies has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cloud Peak Energy warned of its financial problems in November of last year.

Jim Bridger Power Plant
Pacificorp

Rocky Mountain Power is proposing a unique strategy to lower emissions at the coal-fired Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs: reduce its capacity. The utility is required under federal law and within Wyoming's state implementation plan to reduce certain emissions before 2022. Enacted in 1999, the regional haze rule, is meant to limit pollutants that disrupt visibility like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

Cordero Rojo Mine Reclamation
Wyoming Mining Association

A struggling Powder River Basin coal company has put off two interest payments again. It will be the fourth extension. One is for debt due in 2021 and the other for 2024. Cloud Peak Energy negotiated with debt holders to put off paying until May 10. Past extensions have lasted a month, two weeks and one week.

Stephanie Joyce

In 2016, the Obama administration halted new leasing of coal on federal lands with a goal to reexamine the environmental impacts of the program. Just a year later, the Trump administration lifted that moratorium. In a report, Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke wrote, "given the critical importance of the Federal coal leasing program to energy security, job creation, and proper conservation stewardship, this Order directs efforts to enhance and improve the Federal coal leasing program." 

Wyoming's U.S. Representative Liz Cheney speaking on the RECLAIM act in a committee hearing
Natural Resources Committee

A bill aiming to disperse a billion dollars to help communities with coal mine reclamation has passed through the Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The RECLAIM Act would use funds from the abandoned mine land (AML) fund to clean-up mines abandoned from before 1977, as a way to revitalize communities that were once reliant on coal.

Cloud Peak's Gillette-based Cordero Rojo mine.
Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy has worked with debt holders to secure its third extension on a $1.8 million interest payment on a debt that's due in 2024. The long-struggling Powder River Basin coal producer extended the termination date of an agreement to pay part of its debt to May 7. A default on the payment would likely trigger a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Logo
Westmoreland Coal Company

Participants on a not-yet-public call are reporting that Virginia billionaire Tom Clarke has dropped out as the buyer for Westmoreland's Kemmerer mine. The status conference call was held before a bankruptcy judge April 30 to address issues related to the mine's sale.

Consumption of renewables and coal from 2008 to 2018
U.S. Energy Information Administration

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) latest data projects renewable energy to generate more electricity than coal in April and May of this year. It would be the first time wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energies will have surpassed the prolific resource in monthly U.S. generation.

Nolan Behnke

 

2018 was not a good year for Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal companies that employs 1,300 people with two mines in Wyoming. It sold 15 percent less coal, Asian markets had plummeted for the resource, and the value of its stock fell by half. All that happened by October. That month, executives held a call with stock analysts. In the recording, Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall focused the conversation on weather challenges.

Exhibit stamp within the 2016 EQC case
Wyoming Environmental Quality Council

Coal company Ramaco Carbon is a step closer to developing a mine in Sheridan County, which plans to focus on developing coal-based products.

President Donald Trump’s push for more energy development on federal lands suffered a setback last week when a federal judge ruled that his administration didn’t look at environmental impacts before lifting an Obama-era freeze on new coal leases.

Cloud Peak's Antelope Mine
Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy is not filing for bankruptcy just yet. The Powder River Basin coal company got an extension on an interest payment today that was due last month. It should have defaulted yesterday, April 14, but a majority lender has given it an extension until May 1.

Cooper McKim

For years, Powder River Basin (PRB) coal has been a cornerstone of Peabody Energy's and Arch Coal's portfolio. Those are two of the largest coal companies in the U.S. Vic Svec, senior vice president, global investor and corporate relations for Peabody Energy, said that's getting tougher.

Idaho Power Banner On Its Clean Energy Commitment Announcement
Idaho Power

A major utility in Idaho is committing to 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Idaho Power already finalized agreements to part ways with two coal-fired power plants and is still discussing breaking with a third in Wyoming. It owns one-third of the Jim Bridger plant and is working with Pacificorp and regulators to either reduce emissions or exit participation from the plant. It expects to import more clean energy from the Pacific Northwest.

Kemmerer Mine - Wyoming
Westmoreland

The sale of the Kemmerer coal mine has hit a snag in bankruptcy courts. The subsidiary of Westmoreland that owns the Kemmerer mine and the new billionaire buyer named Tom Clarke are required to replace bonds to ensure the land can be reclaimed if the mine were to go under. But court documents show the two were ready to close the deal without completing the step.

Cover page of Cloud Peak's annual report
U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission

One of the largest coal companies in the country headquartered in Gillette signaled it may soon be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cloud Peak Energy released its annual financial statement today saying it did not pay a nearly $2 million interest payment in debt, which now gives them 30 days before defaulting.

 

National Park Service funding in 2020 plan
U.S. Department of the Interior

The Interior Department's Acting Secretary David Bernhardt released his first budget request to Congress. The 2020 financial plan promotes an "all of the above" domestic energy strategy. For Interior, that would mean adding hundreds of millions of dollars into streamlining oil and gas drilling and coal mining on public lands. It would also support increased logging within national parks.

Pacificorp

Early one November morning last year, Devils Tower Senator Ogden Driskill got a call from Afton Senator Dan Dockstader.

"He'd discovered that Rocky Mountain Power was accelerating closure of a number of their coal-fired units down around Kemmerer in his district," Driskill said.

Governor Mark Gordon's stock signing photo on his website
Governor Mark Gordon Website

Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill into law today seeking to extend the life-span of coal plants. A report from the Rocky Mountain Power’s owner last year found more than half of its coal units were more expensive to run than with alternative energies. That made some state legislators nervous about early closures of plants.

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