powder river basin

The logo set on letters regarding 401(k) termination
Blackjewel

The West Virginia court overseeing Blackjewel's bankruptcy has authorized the end of 401(k) plans for all the company's miners. It was one condition of Contura Energy's purchase of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. Many Blackjewel workers responded to the news with thanks on Facebook, one commenting "Hallelujah."

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Blackjewel employees in Wyoming could soon miss their second payday; it's approaching quickly on July 26. The recently bankrupt coal company has already passed one payday on July 12 since filing for Chapter 11 reorganization on the first of July.

Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Connections

In 2015 and 2016, three massive coal companies in Wyoming filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy: Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy.

Peabody Energy

Two of the largest coal producers are combining forces to better compete with natural gas and renewable energy. Peabody and Arch Coal are consolidating seven of their mines - five in Wyoming and two in Colorado. They hope to save over $800 million over the next decade, but await regulatory hurdles before sealing the deal. Wyoming Public Radio’s Cooper McKim talks to S & P Global Market Intelligence coal reporter Taylor Kuykendall. He explains what the collaboration means for the companies, the coal industry, and Wyoming going forward.

Stock photos of coal/oil and gas operations
Cooper McKim / Stock Photos

Arch Coal and Peabody Energy recently announced it would consolidate seven of their mines; five of which are located in the Powder River Basin. If the venture passes regulatory hurdles, the move will create the largest coal producer in the country controlling a significant percentage of national coal production.

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.

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.

Cut Out From Rocky Mountain Power's Presentation On Its Integrated Resource Plan
Rocky Mountain Power

More and more coal-fired power plants are setting retirement dates and the next steps for them are unclear. The Senate Minerals committee heard a bill attempting to deal with these power plants. It aims to create a process allowing decommissioned plants to continue under new ownership.

Clean Coal Technologies, Inc. logo
Clean Coal Technologies, Inc.

A company attempting to improve the burning efficiency of coal has found a permanent site for a testing facility. Clean Coal Technologies, Inc. (CCTI) will build just outside of Gillette in Fort Union Park. 

Peabody Energy logo
Peabody Energy

The largest coal company in the world released its earnings report today, announcing that 2017 was a strong year for its production, revenue, and exports. Peabody Energy operates several of its largest mines in the Powder River Basin, including the North Antelope Rochelle, Rawhide, and Caballo mines. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and re-emerged last year.

DXR

A coal company and an oil and gas company are stuck in legal limbo over who has superior rights on overlapping federal leases in the Powder River Basin. The case has been bandied back and forth in federal court, state court, district court… but in the end, who should settle this debate? Cheyenne oil and gas attorney Kris Koski, who is not involved in the case, helps give deeper analysis about what the controversy and potential resolution means for Wyoming.

 

Supreme Court, State of Wyoming

The Wyoming Supreme Court says a mineral rights case involving overlapping federal leases in the Powder River Basin cannot be resolved without intervention from a federal agency. The court is now sending it back to a Wyoming district court.

WildEarth Guardians Logo
WildEarth Guardians

Conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club recently filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSMRE, over two coal leases approved in 2012.

The groups say Peabody Energy’s North and South Porcupine leases, which expanded the North Antelope Rochelle mine in the Powder River Basin, were improperly approved and that the company should no longer be allowed to mine there. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

West Virginia wants to use federal dollars to subsidize Appalachian coal. Some think that’s picking favorites — not just over natural gas and renewables, but over other coal states. 

Wikimedia Commons

At a presentation at the University of Wyoming’s Energy Innovation Center, an energy economist argued that the coal industry will likely never recover to previous levels. That’s despite a small rebound in the first quarter of this year because of a cold winter.

publicdomainpictures.net

In Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the city of Sheridan is exploring how renewable sources of energy might fit into its future. The local government applied for a $44,000 research grant that the Wyoming Business Council approved earlier this month.

Now their proposal will go before the governor’s State Land and Investment Board for final approval. The town’s leaders have been looking into wind, solar, and hydropower development since the 1990s, and a recent economic study found that a lack of renewable development in Sheridan could be a deal-breaker for tech companies.

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country is celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory. Support for Trump was strong from Appalachia to Wyoming, and people have high hopes he can reverse coal’s recent downturn. But can he?

Like most of his co-workers, Jeremy Murphy listened to the election results on the radio in his pickup truck as he worked the overnight shift at the country’s largest coal mine, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

“The two-way radios at work were really quiet,” he said. “Really, really quiet.”

Stephanie Joyce

 

 

Glance at a satellite image of northeast Wyoming, and you can’t miss the coal mines. Even zoomed out, the square-cornered grey blotches stand out—stretching north to south over more than 70 miles. But if all goes according to plan, someday, when the mining is done, those scars will disappear, erased from the landscape by intensive reclamation efforts.

Stephanie Joyce

Record heat in much of the country is good news for the struggling coal industry. 

Hotter temperatures mean more people running their air conditioning, which in turn means more power plants burning more coal. 

“The hot start to summer has greatly improved the outlook, after a very slow first half [of the year],” said Colin Marshall, CEO of Cloud Peak Energy, one of the nation’s biggest coal producers, on an earnings call with investors. 

STEPHANIE JOYCE / WYOMING PUBLIC RADIO

On April 1, 2016, Frank Thompson lost his job as a mechanic at Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle mine. He was one of almost 500 coal miners laid off that day by Peabody and its competitor, Arch Coal. At the time, Thompson, who is a single dad, was most concerned about what being laid off would mean for his son.

"He’s seven years old, so he kind of sees it as some time to hang out," he told Inside Energy's Stephanie Joyce. "But I don’t think he really realizes that this could be us moving away from here."

Coal production during in the first quarter of 2016 was the lowest its been since 1981. According to the US Energy Information Administration, coal production in the Power River Basin dropped nearly 30% from the fourth quarter of 2015. That is a bigger drop than in any other region.

Demand for coal is down because of low natural gas prices, competition from renewables, and environmental regulations. An unusually warm winter also reduced demand, so companies cut production.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

  

Environmentalists, lawmakers, coal miners, and advocates of all types gathered to have their say at a public meeting this week, in Casper, Wyo, hosted by the Department of the Interior (DOI). Like most discussions of the future of coal, the debate was passionate and polarized.

“This is a politically motivated sham, pandering to the political allies of the secretary and the administration,” Richard Reavey, an executive at a coal company called Cloud Peak Energy, said in his public remarks.

Federal officials are objecting to a coal company's plan to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy, because, they say, it looks a lot more like a plan to liquidate. 

Alpha Natural Resources filed a plan today outlining how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy. At the heart of the plan is a proposal to sell the company's core assets, including its Wyoming mines.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

  

In President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, there was a line that caught the ear of people in the energy industry.

“I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet,” he said.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

As part of a series of listening sessions held across the country, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management recently came to Gillette, Wyo., to meet with residents about the agency's federal coal program. The meeting quickly turned into an impassioned discussion about the future of the coal industry.

Janice Schneider, with the Department of the Interior, said the agency was looking for comments on “how the Bureau of Land Management can best manage its coal resources."

Department of Interior Logo
U.S. Department of Interior

The federal government is going after a now-defunct Wyoming energy company for failing to document and pay royalties on the gas it had been extracting. 

Conservation groups are expressing huge concern over the proposed Bureau of Land Management proposed resource management plan for the Powder River Basin.  

The plan authorizes 10 billion tons of coal production along with oil and gas development. With concern being expressed over Sage Grouse habitat, some conservation groups thought the BLM would proposed reduced energy development.

BLM Director Neil Kornze said last week during a trip to Cheyenne that Sage Grouse will be monitored and that the declining coal market will take care of a lot of the carbon dioxide concerns.

Wikimedia Commons

For years, Wyoming has been the leader in Coal Production. Production has dipped slightly in the state, but Wyoming still produces 40% of the nation’s coal – far more than any other state. As part of Inside Energy’s series on the Future of Coal, Reporter Clay Scott visited the state and found the industry’s imprint on the West runs deep.

 

One of the world’s largest coal companies has withdrawn its application for a federal coal lease in the Powder River Basin. Arch Coal’s move is part of a bigger slow down in sales of Wyoming coal leases. According to the Bureau of Land Management, there are currently six leases pending. But the last one that was actually sold was in 2012. 

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