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Big Coal in big trouble as coal production costs rise
David Roberts, Grist
What is driving the decline of the U.S. coal industry? Most of the blame has gone either to Obama’s “war on coal” (EPA regulations) or to cheap natural gas. But there’s a third factor at work, which has gotten much less press: Coal is getting more expensive to produce…
It has gotten the point where, in some areas, profit margins have flipped: coal is now selling for less than it costs to produce. In other areas, that flip appears to be perilously close. Never mind EPA or natural gas or Obama or anything else: If it isn’t profitable to mine coal, it won’t be mined, not for long.
Stephen Mufson of The Washington Post wrote a broad overview of this subject last week. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at a few data points…
(1 November 2012)
Obama, Romney avoid hard truths about energy
Richard Heinberg and Tom Butler, Christian Science Monitor
The presidential campaign now nearing its noisy conclusion may be remembered more for what wasn’t said than for what was, especially when it comes to the pivotal issue of energy. We heard assertions that America has a century’s worth of cheap natural gas, that domestic drilling will soon free us of the need to import oil, and that the president of the United States is responsible for high gasoline prices – all exaggerations at best. We didn’t hear the hard truth about our nation’s energy conundrum.
Here’s an inconvenient fact: The recent glut of US oil and natural gas production was driven not by new discoveries or technologies, but by high prices. In the years 2005-08, as conventional oil and gas supplies dwindled, prices for these fuels soared. High prices then provided an incentive for the industry to use expensive, risky technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies bought up mineral rights and drilled thousands of wells. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of new gas, new oil, and old-fashioned hype…
(2 November 2012)
Japan kicks off winter energy-saving campaign
Japan began imploring people to wrap up for its "warmbiz" winter energy-saving campaign on Thursday, despite Tokyo basking in warm sunshine.
Citizens of energy-hungry Japan, where all but two nuclear reactors are idle after last year’s Fukushima disaster, are being given tips on how to stay warm without cranking up the heater — such as eating hot food.
As part of the "warmbiz" campaign, which comes after a summer "coolbiz" blitz, the environment ministry is extolling the virtues of hot water bottles and recommending shutting the curtains to help keep warm air in…
(1 November 2012)
Full Text: China’s Energy Policy 2012
The Information Office of the State Council, or China’s cabinet, on Wednesday published the 2012 edition of white paper on the country’s energy policy…
Energy is the material basis for the progress of human civilization and an indispensable basic condition for the development of modern society. It remains a major strategic issue for China as the country moves towards its goals of modernization and common prosperity for its people…
However, China’s energy development still faces many challenges. The country’s energy resource endowment is not high and its per-capita share of coal, petroleum and natural gas is low. Its energy consumption has grown too quickly in recent years, increasing the strain on energy supply. Fossil energy resources have been exploited on a large scale, causing a certain amount of damage to the eco-environment…
(24 October 2012)