Coal

St. Louis Public Radio

Whether the federal government should fund health benefits for retired mine workers has led to a stalemate over a federal spending bill as the current session of Congress draws to a close Friday night. Coverage for the former employees of now-bankrupt coal companies is set to run out at the end of the year. The bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate extends their benefits for four months. For Phil Smith, director of government affairs for United Mine Workers of America, it is “no better...

MISO control room
Provided by MISO

A battle over power is shaping up in Illinois. It involves lawmakers, but unlike with the state budget crisis they are not playing a central role. This fight involves electricity plants, regulated and unregulated energy companies and the nonprofits that act as air traffic controllers for the electric grid.

Peabody Energy
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy says it may have to file for bankruptcy. The St. Louis-based coal company filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Peabody Energy
(courtesy Peabody Energy)

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy could be headed for bankruptcy court. In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week Peabody said some of the company’s senior lenders are pushing the coal giant toward in-court restructuring. That comes as Peabody is trying to sell three mines to Bowie Resource Partners in a deal worth $463 million.

coal
(flickr, Atze van Dijk)

Bob Sandidge has been in the coal industry for 40 years. But he’s never seen it this bad. "You turn around and one company lays off people, and another company just filed for bankruptcy and another company is cutting way back,"” he said. The co-owner of S & L Industries in Saline County, Illinois, Sandidge does contract work in coal mines. He said even small business owners in the area are beginning to feel the effects of coal’s downturn. " It’s been pretty quiet around here," he said....

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Updated 12:49 p.m., Feb. 11 with Peabody Energy's earnings report - St. Louis-based Peabody Energy is still speaking with creditors and is open to more asset sales as it deals with huge debt and a deep industry downturn. It is reporting a full-year loss of slightly more than $2 billion, compared to a loss of less than half that for 2014. Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow says Peabody has made several moves to improve its financial picture, include selling operations in New Mexico and Colorado, but more needs to be done.

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:30 a.m., Jan. 5 with details of new agreement - A health fund for retired miners will stay solvent for at least 10 more months. Peabody Energy and the United Mine Workers of America have reached an agreement . The company will pay $75 million into the health fund this year, but will not have to pay $70 million next year. The fund covers about 12,000 retired Patriot Coal miners, many of whom worked for Peabody Energy. Peabody spun off Patriot in 2007. The company agreed to pay about...

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh discussed the year in business happenings in the area — from Cortex to coal to NGA — with the reporters who know the subject best.

St. Louis Public Radio

The coal industry continues to adjust to economic realities. Peabody Energy has announced a deal to sell assets in Colorado and New Mexico, while Arch Coal is suggesting that a bankruptcy filing may be in order. Tracking the sector can be a challenge, so we have put together a snapshot of some major players and their ties to the St. Louis region.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Labadie
Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

The Sierra Club is appealing to Ameren shareholders in an attempt to prompt the utility to move away from coal-based energy. The organization has submitted a resolution to shareholders calling for at least 30-percent wind and solar sourced energy by 2030 and at least 70-percent by 2050.

Michael Moehn (left) and Ajay Arora (right) joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated on August 20, 2015 with corrections to details of the Clean Power Plan and Integrated Resource Plan. Coal has continued to fuel arguments over health hazards, hidden costs, and energy efficiency since “St. Louis on the Air” tackled Missouri’s problematic coal dependence in a July show featuring an ex-miner from Appalachia. The use of coal for energy is very much a local issue: 80 percent of Missouri’s electricity is generated from burning coal, local plants have...

Ameren Missouri's coal fire power plant at Labadie.
Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

Environmental advocates are praising the new Clean Power Plan announced Monday by President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency. Business groups are critical. The new rule is designed to cut emissions by 32 percent by the year 2030, based on levels recorded in 2005, and it will use state-by-state targets to implement the emissions cuts, with states having flexibility in how to reach the goals. In a statement that included its outline of the plan's components , the White House said, "The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants."

(via Flickr)

The controversy over coal use hits close to home. It’s not only that coal-burning companies Ameren Missouri, Peabody Energy, and Arch Coal are headquartered in St. Louis, or that statewide battles have been waged over coal burning and the storing of ash . It’s that over 80% of Missouri’s generated electricity comes from coal, eliciting frustrating and critical questions about local use of coal-fueled electricity: is it really the cheapest source of energy? And if so, does cost-effectiveness...

St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 12:20 pm July 30, 2015 with Arch Coal quarterly results) St. Louis-based Arch Coal has followed Peabody Energy this week in posting a significant quarterly loss. The company says its net loss widened to $168 million, compared to roughly $97-million for the same period a year earlier.
( Read the Arch Coal earnings report ) "Arch continues to weather the significant market challenges facing the industry," said Chief Executive Officer John W. Eaves.

The coal ash landfill hearing got underway at 9 a.m. and lasted into the evening. Ameren employees wearing bright yellow vests attended the hearing in shifts throughout the day.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The chambers of the Franklin County Commission were filled to near capacity for much of the day on Thursday for a public hearing about proposed changes to the county’s coal ash landfill regulations. The regulations will affect a coal ash landfill that Ameren wants to build next to its power plant in Labadie.

St. Louis Public Radio

Peabody Energy is cutting about 250 corporate and regional positions. The St. Louis-based company’s President and CEO Glenn Kellow made the announcement on Monday. The company expects to save $40- 45 million annually after the cuts go into effect. " While we regret the impact that these actions have on employees, their families and communities, today’s announcement represents another necessary step to drive the company lower on the cost curve," said Kellow in a statement. Fifty of the...

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been a leading critic of regulations proposed by the Obama administration.
Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Thursday, just as members of Congress and Americans across the country were getting ready to begin the Memorial Day weekend, the White House quietly announced that new rules to reduce carbon emissions from new, modified and existing electric power plants would not be finalized until August, at the earliest. The rules require fossil-fuel burning power plants, most notably coal-fired plants, to reduce emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels over the next 15 years.

State of Rhode Island Division of Planning

Time is running out to provide input on Missouri’s state energy plan. The public comment period officially ends on Saturday, although the online form will likely remain available at least through the weekend. Lewis Mills directs the state Division of Energy , which is developing the plan. He said so far, public comments have centered on a handful of themes. "The one that we heard most often is increase the use of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, while at the same time cutting...

Ameren’s 2,400-megawatt plant near Labadie, Missouri, is the state’s largest coal-fired power plant. It produces an average of 550,000 tons of coal ash each year.
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

State regulators have given Ameren the go-ahead to build a new coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Franklin County. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources approved Ameren’s Labadie landfill construction permit on Friday. In its approval letter , the state agency said that Ameren’s landfill plan met or exceeded all the requirements of the new federal coal ash rule ― except one. The rule, which was finalized on December 19 , says new coal ash landfills must be built at least five...

In Dec. 2008, a dike collapsed at TVA's coal-fired power plant near Kingston, Tenn., releasing 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers and covering about 300 acres of land.
Tennessee Valley Authority

A local environmental group is asking state regulators to deny Ameren’s request to build a new coal ash landfill next to its Labadie power plant in Franklin County, on the basis that the landfill would not comply with new federal regulations. In a letter sent to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Monday, the Labadie Environmental Organization said that, as currently proposed, Ameren’s planned coal ash landfill would be in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s...

In Dec. 2008, the failure of a dike at TVA's coal-fired power plant near Kingston, Tenn., released 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers and buried about 300 acres of land.
Tennessee Valley Authority

For the first time, the byproducts of coal-fired power plants will now be subject to federal regulation. In a state like Missouri, which generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal , the new standards could have significant repercussions . But the rule , finalized on Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stopped short of classifying coal ash as hazardous waste. That means the federal government won’t be responsible for enforcing the new coal ash disposal...

Missouri currently gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants like Ameren's Labadie power plant, pictured here.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 1/7/15
The EPA has delayed their schedule to release carbon dioxide emissions rules until ‘midsummer,’ a top EPA official announced Wednesday. The final rule for new power plants had been scheduled to be published January 8, with the rules for existing and modified power plants due June 2. Now, all will be released at the same time. “We’re focused on the fact that these rules are a suite of rules affecting an industry,” acting assistant administrator Janet McCabe of the agency’s...

Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Historically, the nation's barges have transported much of the nation's coal. In fact, barges are second only behind rail for moving the nation's primary energy source to the power plants that use it. But in June, the EPA put out a new rule to cut carbon emissions by thirty percent by 2030. The rule's impact on power plants is direct. But what about the impact on the barge industry? The coal terminal in north St. Louis provides part of the answer. There, coal from the Powder River Basin in...

(via Flickr/[sic])

(Updated 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, June 3) Within minutes after the Environmental Protection Agency announced its proposed regulations for coal-fired power plants, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt blasted the decision as a “unprecedented power grab.” Blunt followed through on Tuesday by co-sponsoring a bill, called the “Coal Country Protection Act,’’ that would allow carbon-emissions limits to go into effect only if other federal agencies could guarantee that no jobs would be lost, electricity rates wouldn’t go...

Missouri currently gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants like Ameren's Labadie power plant, pictured here.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first-ever rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The proposal sparked immediate debate over the impact, especially in states such as Missouri that depend heavily on coal. The new regulations would reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide by 2030, compared to 2005 emissions levels. The proposed rule does not set limits for individual power plants. Instead, the EPA has proposed...

This map shows the approximate location of groundwater drinking wells near Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County. It was created based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data.
Labadie Environmental Organization

Updated on Wed., May 28. Critics of Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County argued Tuesday that it would sometimes be sitting in groundwater. That's a problem, because most Franklin County residents get their drinking water from groundwater wells ― and coal ash contains toxic substances like arsenic and lead. In an appendix to its landfill construction permit application (see this document , starting on p.25), Ameren acknowledged that in high water years, the base of the clay...

This map shows the approximate location of groundwater drinking wells near Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County. It was created based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data.
Labadie Environmental Organization

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is hosting a meeting on Tuesday to get public input on Ameren's plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Franklin County. The meeting will focus on whether the agency should grant Ameren a landfill construction permit . Ameren Missouri's Vice President of External Affairs and Communications, Warren Wood, said the new coal ash landfill will be state-of-the-art. "It will store this material in a dry, concrete-like state,"...

Ameren Missouri's coal fire power plant at Labadie.
Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 p.m. with additional information, new state from Ameren. The Sierra Club is following through on its threat to sue Ameren Missouri over emissions from three of the company's coal-fired power plants. The advocacy group informed Ameren in December of its intent to sue to enforce the Clean Air Act, saying the company's own data proved that its Rush Island, Labadie and Meramec power plants were emitting too much fine particulate matter. "Legal action is not something that you...

Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

When it comes to energy, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says that the federal government has taken the wrong approach for years. “The refusal to acknowledge that we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal is a big mistake for us,” Blunt, R-Mo., told St. Charles County officials and business people gathered Thursday night at the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce. Instead, he said, “There’s a clear war on coal.” Blunt offered the county leaders, including St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann, an assessment of...

Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m. The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants. In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008. The alleged violations involve "opacity," a measure of fine particulate matter, or soot, being emitted by the coal-fired plants in the...

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