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Old 08-09-2017, 05:48 PM   #22 (permalink)
Legacy
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Some salient points:

- More than 40 percent of all coal mined in the United States comes from federal land on current federal leases prior to any rollback of Obama regs or opening up further federal lands to coal leases.

- When burned here it generates roughly 13 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

- the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming is the most productive coal area in the country.

- Natural gas production and lower prices have contributed to less U.S. demand for coal

- Most, if not all, of an increase in coal production will be sent overseas, not needed for our energy independence, but contributing to their CO2 emissions

- Lack of competitive bidding for mining leases: Only 11 of the 107 sales of federal coal leases between 1990 and 2012 received more than one bid. A study, estimated that the practice had shortchanged taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

- Royalties generate about $1 billion a year for the federal government. Federal rules - adopted in 1920 - require coal companies to pay “not less than” 12.5 percent on sales of surface coal mined on federal lands. But for years, the companies paid far less — as little as 2.5 percent of the ultimate sale price.

- Coal companies often negotiated large royalty discounts with sympathetic federal officials. Companies also often sell surface coal first to a corporate affiliate at a sharply reduced price, on which royalties are calculated, before reselling it to the intended customer, often overseas.

- We have a net surplus of coal, which makes up 30% of our energy exports.

- A recent GAO study found that:
Quote:
Production.
Regarding coal, one study suggested that raising the federal royalty rate for coal to 17 percent would decrease production on federal lands by up to 3 percent after changes were fully implemented after 2025, while a second study said that increasing the effective rate—the rate actually paid by companies after processing and transportation allowances have been factored in, along with any royalty rate reductions—might decrease production on federal lands by less than 1 percent per year.

Revenue.
Both coal studies suggested that a higher royalty rate could lead to an increase in federal revenues. One of the studies suggested that raising the royalty rate to 17 percent or 29 percent might increase federal revenue by up to $365 million per year after 2025. The other study suggested that increasing the effective rate could bring in an additional $141 million per year in royalty revenue.
Four states have sued the U.S. government to block new coal leases on federal lands, arguing
Quote:
new coal extraction would exacerbate global warming and violate the federal government's statutory duty to use public lands "in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values,"
and that in addition to harming the environment, more coal mining on public lands, they argue, would burden state and local governments with expenses related to healthcare, flood control and other infrastructure needs related to potentially harmful effects of nearby mines.

In short, expanding coal leases on federal lands benefits the few coal companies who do not have to compete for the leases, and with our energy independence from coal will send that coal overseas at negligible tax revenue to the federal taxpayer now that the Trump Admin will rollback the Obama change in royalty payments. State taxpayers will need to deal with the costs of long term consequences of this coal production.

Op-ed: Land is the key to strengthening the economy of Utah (Deseret News)

Excerpt:
Quote:
When then-President Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996, Utah’s political leaders were given virtually zero notice and residents never had a chance to weigh in on what became the largest national monument in the United States. Our state’s leaders and many Utahns at the time expressed surprise and dismay, and vigorously opposed the monument designation.

In Utah, Clinton’s action was seen as intended to block a planned coal mine operation on a remote site on the Kaiparowits Plateau, which was protected by the new monument. Before the designation, Utah state officials had projected the coal mine would create 1,000 local jobs and generate $1 million in annual revenues to Kane County. Local residents were understandably upset. Then-Gov. Mike Leavitt stated, "The monument designation will impact people's jobs and the ability of their children to make a living in the area.”

But over the past 21 years, the economic value of Grand Staircase-Escalante has become evident. The monument has spurred incredible growth in the surrounding communities, in Garfield and Kane counties, and throughout southern Utah. Hotel and lodging revenue in Kane County alone doubled in the three years following the monument’s creation, hitting a new high of $9 million in 1999. From 2001 to 2015, jobs grew by 24 percent and personal income went up 32 percent in the Grand Staircase-Escalante region.

Today, Utah tourism officials promote Grand Staircase-Escalante’s natural wonders and tout its record number of 900,000 visitors in 2015. Once widely opposed to the monument, most Utahns now support it. A 2016 survey found that Utah voters believe the monument has been good for the state by a two-to-one margin. Earlier this year, a survey by Dan Jones & Associates found that most Utahns oppose any attempt to rescind or reduce its size.

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Old 08-20-2017, 02:46 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Methane on Federal Lands and the Courts Decisions

Background
Over the past decade, oil and natural gas production in the United States, and on BLM-administered leases, has increased dramatically. Domestic production from over 96,000 federal oil and gas wells now accounts for 11 percent of the National’s natural gas supply and 5 percent of its oil supply. In FY 2015, federal and Indian leases produced oil and gas valued at $20.9 billion, which generated $2.3 billion in royalties. BLM represents that this increase in oil production has been accompanied by “significant and growing quantities of wasted natural gas.”

Gas Venting/flaring
According to the DOI’s Office Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”), between 2009 and 2015, operators reported venting or flaring 2.7 percent of the natural gas produced on BLM-administered leases – purportedly enough natural gas to supply over 6.2 million households for one year. Natural gas loss on BLM-administered leases is growing, evidenced by a 318 percent increase in reported volumes of flared oil-well gas and an increased number of operator applications to vent or flare royalty-free (between 2005, 2011, and 2014, the number of applications per year went from 50, to 622, to 1,248).

In 2010, the DOI’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) both recommended that BLM’s regulations regarding the royalty-free use of gas be updated to take advantage of new capture technologies. The GAO estimated that the economically recoverable volume of natural gas being wasted through venting and flaring at oil and gas production sites on federal and Indian lands represents about $23 million in lost royalties. The GAO determined that around 40 percent of the natural gas vented and flared on onshore federal leases could be economically captured using currently available technologies. In 2016, the GAO issued another report finding that BLM’s regulations failed to provide operators clear guidance on accounting for and reporting lost gas.

Coalbed methane
Recent controversy surrounds the extensive coalbed methane extraction in the region. In the last decade, nearly 7000 such wells have been drilled. An extensive network of gas pipelines connecting these wells has been built, along with a series of pressurization plants, as well as power lines to provide electricity to operate the system. In addition, thousands of miles of new access roads have been constructed. Extracting the gas requires that water be pumped to the surface to release gas trapped in the coal seam.

In 2007, Powder River Basin coalbed field produced 442 billion cubic feet of gas, making the field the 3rd largest source of natural gas in the United States. Methane is rated as having 72 times the effect on global warming per unit of mass than CO2. over 20 years, reducing to 25 times over 100 years and 7.5 times over 500 years. Analysis of life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of energy sources indicates that generating electricity from CBM, as with conventional natural gas, has less than half the greenhouse gas effect of coal.

In the United States, methane escaping from coal during mining amounts to 10 percent of total methane emissions. Recovery of coal mine methane in advance of mining is seen as a major opportunity to reduce methane emissions. Under the previous Adminisration, EPA estimated the rules will reduce methane emissions by 510,000 short tons in 2025 — the equivalent of reducing 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The agency estimated the pricetag for compliance costs will range $420 million to about $530 million in 2025, but also said the rule would yield climate benefits of $690 million, resulting in a $160 million net benefit.

Wyoming et al v the United States
The states of Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota petitioned in Federal Court to Petitioners contend the Rule is, in actuality, an attempt by BLM to regulate air pollution which it lacks authority to do, and the Rule, at best, duplicates, and at worst, undermines, the agencies tasked by Congress with regulating air quality. Congress expressly delegated authority to the states and the EPA to “protect and enhance the quality of the Nation’s air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and productive capacity of its population.”

Petitioners (Wyo et al) challenge the Rule pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, claiming the Rule should be set aside as arbitrary and capricious and in excess of the BLM’s statutory authority. The State Petitioners assert irreparable harm resulting from the Rule’s infringement on their sovereign authority and interests in administering their own regulatory programs governing air emissions from oil and gas production. The State Petitioners further contend irreparable harm through economic losses in the form of decreased tax revenue and lost jobs from delay in production and avoidance of development in states with significant federal land. The Industry Petitioners assert irreparable harm through: (1) costs of compliance; (2) disclosure of proprietary, confidential, and competitive information; and (3) payment of royalties on gas BLM has characterized as “avoidably lost.”

On January 16th, the Judge decided for the BLM, environmental groups and the State of New Mexico, rejecting all of the Petitioners' assertions, and concluding that under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982, "Congress has vested the Secretary with the authority to prescribe rules for the prevention of undue waste of mineral resources. Having done so, at this stage and applying the deference as required under Chevron, this Court cannot conclude the Rule enacted exceeds the Secretary’s authority or is arbitrary and capricious. Petitioners have not established their right to relief is clear and unequivocal. Petitioners have failed to establish all four factors required for issuance of a preliminary injunction, so their respective motions must be denied." and "Petitioners have failed to establish that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction."

Congressional Action
On May 10, 2017, the Senate, implementing the Congressional Review Act to reduce passage to a simple majority instead of the usual sixty votes, failed to rollback the methane rule 49-51 (Collins, McCain, and Graham voted against).

Environmental groups v the EPA
After Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, in April initially ordered a ninety day stay of the rule, and then applied a two year freeze, the EPA was taken to court by environmental groups. In a 2-1 decision, the Federal Appeals Court on July 4th concluded that Pruit[/url]t "lacked authority" to halt implementation of the regulations and the "EPA's decision to impose a stay, in other words, was 'arbitrary, capricious, (and) ... in excess of (its) ... statutory ... authority,'" and "Even a brief scan of the record demonstrates the inaccuracy of EPA's statements." The state of Colorado had joined the lawsuit, having determined Pruitt's actions were illegal. The state of Texas had joined on the side of the EPA.

(The Wyoming et al v U.S., BLM suit had contended that the BLM lacked authority to implement the rule because the EPA was the only agency authorized to enforce the Clean Air Act.)

Federal Appeals Court
On August 1, nine of the 11 judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the latest ruling after a ruling by the court in July that the EPA unlawfully tried to delay implementing the Obama-era methane pollution rule.

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Old 08-24-2017, 08:19 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Man Mike View Post
... to be clear, I'm no fan of nuclear power plants for many reasons (especially mining health issues and terrorism potential for thieving hot waste), but once a plant is created, it's usual ability to run is far easier than the crude coal-fired technology. The Upper Ohio Valley used to be so air polluted that citizens wore t-shirts bragging about how they were tough enough to survive the @#$%^& air. Coal has killed so many more people than nuclear power plants that it should be close to Enemy #1 on any rational environmental hit list. In that sense, coal-burners should be our last choice on the energy-production list (even most power companies don't want to contemplate building more.) T. Boone Pickens, no environmentalist he, has presented an energy plan which has elimination of coal as the first agenda item.

I grew up in West Virginia. If Trump's cronyism-slanted "coal-mining US lands" is thought by those West Virginians as helping THEM (when all it would do is add more competition to close them out), they should apply for non-sentient lifeform status. I can't imagine the strip-mining Wyoming crowd thinking much of it either --- they're doing just fine re-inventing the surface of their state without this. This is simply a re-introducing of the Reagan (James Watt) policy (never to be seriously considered since) of turning the parks into commercial extraction sites. (if not outright selling them.)
Coal mining has left West Virginia, leaving behind miners with chronic medical conditions, poor health statuses, and in poverty. West Virginians overwhelmly voted for Donald Trump up to 70% in some counties, but are also increasingly reliant on the federal programs. With the federal government under control of the Republicans, many of these programs are threatened with loss of funding.

Health and Social Statistics (CDC)
West Virginians national rankings are in selected health and vital statistics are:
Drug Overdose Deaths - 1st
Diabetes - 1st
Cancer - 2nd
Accidents - 2nd
Chronic Lower Respiratory disease - 3rd
Kidney Disease - 3rd
Obese or Overweight percent - 71.1% - 1st
Others: Stroke (6th), Flu/Pneumonia (7th), Heart disease (11th)

Medical care for Cancer, Diabetes, Chronic Respiratory Disease and Kidney Disease can be some of the costliest conditions in healthcare, especially when patients are unable to afford their medications or preventative doctor visits and wait until they present at the ER.

West Virginia is 93% white
Life expectancy - T2nd lowest, 75.4 yrs
Number of Deaths per 100k - 929.1, 2nd
Median Household Income - 42,824, 3rd
Divorce rates - 4.2 per 1000, T-5th (in prior reports, it has ranked 1st)
Percent of pop under 200% of Federal Poverty Level - 38%, T-6th (National Ave 32%)
Food Insecurity - 1 in 6 people will visit a food pantry, soup kitchen or other feeding program in 2017.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) as percent of population - 1st

Medicaid in West Virginia (Kaiser Family Foundation)
West Virginia has the second lowest per capita income in the country and therefore one of the highest federal Medicaid matching assistance percentage (FMAP) at 73%. West Virginia is the only state where less than half of all civilians work.
-Percent of pop covered by Medicaid/CHIPs - 29%, 1st (564,000 people)
-For every $1 spent by the state, the Federal government matches $2.55. Over three-fourths (79%) of all federal funds West Virginia receives are for Medicaid.
-In Calendar Year 2017, the federal match rate for the Medicaid expansion population is 95%.
-Three-fourths (74%) of enrollees are children and adults, but nearly two-thirds (61%) of the state’s Medicaid spending is for the elderly and people with disabilities.
-87,200 (22%) of West Virginia’s Medicare enrollees are also covered by Medicaid, which accounts for over a third (36%) of Medicaid spending.
-53% of all children in West Virginia are covered by Medicaid, including 56% of children with special health care needs.
-Nearly half (46%) of people in West Virginia live in rural areas. People who live in rural areas are more likely to be dependent on Medicaid.
-Nearly 20 percent of West Virginia women and girls live in poverty, and more than half of the state’s births are financed by Medicaid.

How Proposed Changes to Medicaid and Expanse would affect W.Va
Capping Medicaid funding would reduce the federal assistance for West Virginia to maintain its current Medicaid program.

Under the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), to maintain its current Medicaid program, West Virginia would have to make up $3.4 billion in loss of federal funds between 2020-2029, including $1.5 billion for the phase-out of the enhanced match for the ACA expansion and $1.9 billion for the per enrollee cap on all groups.

If West Virginia dropped the Medicaid expansion in response to the loss of enhanced federal financing, the state would forgo an additional $7.6 billion over the 2020-2029 period, and by 2029, 227,000 West Virginians estimated to be covered in the expansion group would lose Medicaid coverage.

Twenty counties in West Virginia had more than 30 percent of their residents enrolled in Medicaid 2015.

Jobs
West Virginia to be second most affected state with ACA repeal (Beckley (WVa) Register Herald)
Quote:
According to a new West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP) report, repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would have far-reaching effects in the Mountain State.
"Repealing the ACA: Hurting Our Health and Our Economy," released Tuesday, says not only 184,000 West Virginians would lose health insurance, but the state's weak economy could falter with the loss of billions of dollars of federal funds.
An estimated 16,000 jobs would be lost by 2019 and nearly $350 million would be lost in tax revenue over five years. The Urban Institute estimates West Virginia would lose $14 billion in federal funds between 2019-2028, including $12 billion supporting Medicaid/CHIP.

"The ACA is much more than a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who have gained health coverage and important patient protections," said WVCBP Executive Director Ted Boettner, who authored the report. "It has been a billion dollar investment in our people that has lead to thousands of new jobs during a time when our state's communities are struggling."
West Virginia's budget shortfall next year is estimated to be nearly half-billion dollars. Job loss due to loss of health care funds, downturn in the economy, or mining shutdown would significantly increase their shortfalls.

The most viewed articles in West Virginia newspapers are those on jobs and health care. So when President Trump promises coal mining jobs are returning with less regulations and replacements for Obamacare will be less expensive with more choices, those promises are warmly welcomed in West Virginia, though Obamacare repeal without replacement sends shudders throughout the state. Similarly, replacement health care laws that increase premiums 3-5x for adults from 50-64 with chronic medical conditions or loss of mental health or drug programs would hit residents hard. (One in nine residents in Huntington and Cabell counties are drug addicts.)

Ability to Respond to Capitation or Block Grants
West Virginia ranks in the top five states in characteristics that could face more challenges in responding to per capita cap or block grant policies. Two factors affecting West Virginia:
Health Status: as measured by populations with multiple high health needs (i.e. overall poor health status, high share reporting a disability, high share reporting poor mental health, high opioid death rate and/or high rate of new HIV cases).

Revenue and Budget Choices: as measured by multiple tax capacity challenges (i.e. low personal income, low total taxable resources, low tax effort or share of taxes relative to personal income, high Medicaid match rates, and/or low state and local spending per capita)

CAMC Health System to cut 300 jobs (Charleston Gazette, July 26)
Quote:
Charleston Area Medical Center Health System plans to eliminate 300 positions by the end of 2017.

“Regrettably, there is no end in sight for West Virginia’s economic situation, poor reimbursement from governmental insurance, rising cost of drugs and technology, the nursing shortage and the cost of caring for government-insured patients,” Dave Ramsey, the hospital system’s CEO, announced.. “After the first five months of 2017, CAMC’s operations were on course to lose more than $40 million. In the past several months, the leadership of CAMC has been working on a plan to stop the financial losses and work toward a sustainable future.”
Only 17 percent of CAMC’s patients are covered by commercial insurance carriers.

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Old 08-25-2017, 10:42 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Having been a WV resident throughout my youth, and a months-long regular visitor during my teacher's summers off, I'm sadly very cognizant of that state's problems and peculiarities. Perhaps a few comments might be informative to place the statistics in slightly more light:

WV has lead the nation consistently in native born population LEAVING the state, to the result that most years it has negative population "growth." It takes little deduction to guess that it is generally the brighter, more skilled, more ambitious young person who is leaving. There are many good hard-working and intelligent people still in WV, but the continuos trend is to lower that.

WV was a sort-of viable economy in the old days because it had the major coal deposits. It also had major Brine deposits (Brine is used as the primary resource in the heavy chemical production of Hydrochloric Acid and Sodium Hydroxide --- the engine drivers of the chemical industry pre-organics-from-oil, and still the heavy chemical drivers worldwide.) It also had the Ohio River and The Kanawha River to move the heavy bulk materials. Thus it became a highly profitable, dangerous and dirty business area.

Globalism plus western strip-mining killed all of that. What's left are people hanging on --- the remaining infrastructure of a whole economy is massive of course, and big things die usually in whimpers not in heroic screams of defiance. People are clever survivors and try to adjust. Only their young (typically) are nimble enough to break away. WV in this sense is like a gigantic (geographically) white ghetto. There are heros there and many beautiful people, but they are sitting around a dying campfire while the world rolls by.
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Old 08-25-2017, 10:51 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Old 08-25-2017, 11:23 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Well, your smirking remarks are always expected, so no surprise. The song is accurate about those parts (most) of that beautiful state, where Nature is indeed fabulously beautiful. Most of the "country" people are quite "beautiful" in their souls as well, and I've had many many friends there as well as my family. Smirk all you want about the dead economy. That is not where beauty resides. There was another guy, long banned, who liked to take cheap shots at WV as well.
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:52 PM   #28 (permalink)
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MIke,

Always appreciate your contributions and insights based on your background, knowledge and personal experiences. West Virginia is indeed a beautiful state in both its land and, more importantly, its residents and those who have grown up there. It's difficult to assess how much they have contributed to American life, economic growth and our culture while sacrificing their health for the promises of future health care for the family and pensions.

As flippant and seemingly insensitive as N. Dakota's comment was, especially with knowing from your prior remark that you were from West Virginia, I have to assume that he must have reached out to you in private communications in an effort to heal any rifts.

I look forward to your future insights and comments on any posting that I may make on the struggles and challenges that coal miners and the residents of their states - as well as his positive remarks that contribute to dialogue on issues.

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