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DOE denies coal plant assistance plan; DOI grants $300M for mine reclamation

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European Energy Insights - May 2021

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Metals & Mining Insights May 2021

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[Report]: 2021 Corporate Renewables Outlook

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DOE denies coal plant assistance plan; DOI grants $300M for mine reclamation

DOE official: Agency will not use emergency authority to save uneconomic plants

A U.S. Department of Energy assistant secretary on Feb. 20 denied reports that the agency is considering using its emergency authority to keep financially ailing coal, nuclear or other power plants online.

Bruce Walker, assistant secretary of the Office of Electricity Delivery, pushed back on recent press reports that the agency might use its Federal Power Act Section 202(c) authority to spur emergency funding to keep coal-fired power plants alive in the wake of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's rejection of DOE's proposed rule to provide extra compensation to generators that can keep a 90-day fuel supply on-site.

DOI announces $300M in funding for states, tribes to reclaim abandoned mines

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced $300.7 million in funding for 28 coal-producing states and tribes to reclaim abandoned coal mines in 2018.

"This money will be used to fix highwalls, stabilize land above underground mines, and repair impaired waters, among other things," U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a Feb. 24 release.

DOE tapped consultant to coal sector for study of current jobs picture, forecast

The U.S. Department of Energy tapped a consulting firm that has worked extensively with the coal industry to study the potential economic and jobs benefits of U.S. coal, offering a sharp contrast to forecasts for a decline in the sector.

The study was requested by the Office of Fossil Energy to understand potential future trends in coal production and jobs, including the potential benefits of a successful DOE coal research and development program.

Carbon capture proponents shift focus to infrastructure incentives

Fresh off a legislative victory to extend federal tax credits that would benefit carbon capture and storage, stakeholders are honing their focus on amplifying the technology's value through incentives for infrastructure build-outs.

A multistate group put together by the governors of Wyoming and Montana will be forming regional initiatives to analyze potential pipeline options and identify the most important projects that would benefit from the 45Q credits; meanwhile, a new coalition wants to make sure CO2 pipelines are part of the current discussion on national infrastructure policy.

DOE announces $17.6M in funding for 6 carbon capture projects

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $17.6 million in funding for six projects addressing some of the operational challenges associated with commercially available carbon capture technologies.

The projects, which will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, involve testing solvent and membrane technologies that will focus on increasing reliability and reducing the cash and energy cost of capturing carbon dioxide.

Trump infrastructure plan could raise cost of shipping coal, building materials

The Trump administration's legislative outline for infrastructure development could raise transportation costs along inland waterways for the coal industry, stakeholders say.

"The proposal creates a disincentive rather than an incentive for coal to grow its market share," said Mike Toohey, president and CEO of the Waterways Council Inc., adding that higher shipping costs would make it harder for coal to compete with natural gas, which is usually moved by pipeline.

Coal miner killed at Pocahontas highwall operation in West Virginia

A West Virginia coal miner died Feb. 21 while performing electrical work on a highwall miner at the Pocahontas Coal Co.'s Devils Fork 2 mine in Raleigh County, according to the state's Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

The incident was the second U.S. coal mining fatality reported this year.