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Bangladesh cancels UK mining project

Gulf Times
DHAKA: Bangladesh has bowed to demands from protesters and cancelled a $1.4bn plan by British firm Asia Energy to build an open-pit coal mine, a minister said yesterday.

The climbdown followed almost a week of violent protests by farmers and locals in the northern town of Phulbari that left at least five demonstrators and a police officer in the capital dead. “We have agreed to all the demands (of the protesters),” Asadul Habib Dulu, junior food and relief minister, said.

“The first demand was that the government will have to cancel all its existing agreements with Asia Energy and we have agreed to that,” said Dulu who led a government delegation in talks late Wednesday with protesters. “The second demand was that there will be no open-pit mining at Phulbari or elsewhere in the country,” he said, adding that Asia Energy had “lost the confidence of the people”.

Thousands of people, concerned about the mine’s impact on the environment and their livelihoods, celebrated the decision with a rally in Phulbari. “The people finally have a victory. Five thousand people attended the victory parade and sweets were distributed to celebrate,” said town council chief Shahjahan Ali Sarder.
(1 Sept 2006)
The Guardian curiously ran a long article on the suspicious death of one anti-mine activist, but does not mention the government cancelling the project or even that it might be imminent. Mine Web knew more: “..Five protestors were killed as a crowd of thousands tried to storm the office of Asia Energy in Phulbari on Saturday. ” -LJ

China to turn coal into olefin

Sino Biopharmaceutical, China’s pharmaceutical giant, announced in Hongkong Sunday that it had signed an agreement with northwest China’s Shaanxi provincial government to build the country’s first project to convert coal into low-carbon olefin.

“The technology boasts low cost compared with the conventional method of extracting similar products from petroleum,” said Xie Bing, chairman of the company listed in Hong Kong’s stock exchange.”It will be a new source of olefin and carries special economic value in light of the rising oil prices,” he said.
(4 Sept 2006)
Olefins are “any of a class of unsaturated open-chain hydrocarbons such as ethylene.”, common end uses are in apparel and furnishings.
Sino Biopharmaceutical obviously doesn’t think the price of the previous feedstock, petroleum, is going down any time soon. -LJ

Coal keeps US economy burning

Rob Cameron, BBC News
The United States is the world’s most powerful economy, but much of that power is derived from rather old-fashioned sources. More than half of the country’s electricity is produced by burning coal, and as demand for energy increases, so does the pressure on those who supply it.

Mention to the average American that you’re going to Wyoming, and they are as likely as anything to ask you why. It is a fair question. Wyoming consists mostly of scrubby grassland or arid, tan-coloured mountains, and with just 500,000 people, it is the least populous state in the US.

But the people of America should be thankful to Wyoming, because its colossal treasure trove of natural resources is helping – literally – to power the US economy.
(29 Aug 2006)

U.S. rails seek ways to haul more Wyoming coal

Nick Carey, Reuters via Yahoo!News
GILLETTE, Wyoming (Reuters) – The long trains that seem to be everywhere in this sparsely populated stretch of land haul nearly 1 million tons of Powder River Basin coal to power plants daily, but that’s simply not enough.

Utilities are clamoring for more of this fuel, which has become a popular alternative to costly natural gas. The mines in this region, dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” say they are able to increase production.

The bottleneck lies in the railroads.

Like the miners that unearth the coal, railroads must move mountains over the next few years to match the demand, said Andy Schroder, logistics director at Union Pacific Corp.
(27 Aug 2006)

Texas’ coal-burning question

Jim Marston, Houston Chronicle
The 18 coal-fired power plants being proposed would double CO2 pollution in Texas. Scrap the plans.California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made national headlines this last week, and it was no movie stunt or doomsday film release: In what is so far America’s most significant solution to the global warming crisis, He announced a deal with the California Legislature that assured passage of a landmark bill that will reduce California’sthat state’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that here in Texas, our governor just doesn’t seem to get it, and the rest of the world is quickly passing him and the state of Texas by.
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Despite impressive efforts by neighboring states and other nations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, our governorGov. Rick Perry is instead helping to expedite the construction of 18 new coal-fired power plants that would nearly double our Texas’ carbon dioxide emissions.
(3 Sept 2006)