Trump administration proposes to overhaul National Environmental Policy Act
In the name of speeding up infrastructure siting and other federal decisions, the Trump administration released a proposed rule to revamp the National Environmental Policy Act's requirements for when federal agencies are required to study the environmental impacts of major federal actions. Developers in the energy sector and other industries have pushed for the changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, contending that the current rules have made permitting even the simplest projects take up to 20 years. President Donald Trump repeated those arguments in a Jan. 9 press briefing.
US Treasury finalizes new foreign investment rules to curb security risks
The U.S. Treasury Department released two final regulations expanding the government's oversight of certain foreign investments into the country in a bid to better address national security risks. The regulations, which take effect Feb. 13, grant the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, wider authority to assess foreign noncontrolling investments into certain U.S. businesses involved in critical technology, critical infrastructure, or sensitive personal data.
W.Va. coal targets policies to maintain coal burn in state legislative session
West Virginia coal producers hope to push more policies favorable to the fuel in the state's legislative session this year, including laws to encourage in-state consumption of the fuel, spark the development of alternative coal uses and lower the industry's tax burden. The West Virginia Coal Association and the United Mine Workers of America joined together on Jan. 8 to outline policy proposals for the state legislature in Charleston. The trade association shared 16 recommendations, requesting the state to "assign the highest priority to preserving coal mining and coal-fired electricity."
Bankruptcy court sets auction procedures, date for Murray Energy assets
Murray Energy Corp. received bankruptcy court approval for a bidding process to sell the company's assets. The company is the largest private coal miner in the U.S. and filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in October 2019. In a Jan. 9 order, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio approved a final bid deadline of March 16 and an auction date of March 26.
Blackjewel, unsecured creditors seek probe into former CEO's financial dealings
Blackjewel LLC, its affiliated debtors and the official committee of unsecured creditors to the company asked the federal bankruptcy court to allow a probe into the financial dealings of its former President and CEO Jeff Hoops. The "woefully insolvent" status of Blackjewel that led to the company's bankruptcy filing was due to Hoops transferring tens of millions of dollars worth of the debtor's assets for the benefit of himself, his family and related entities over several years, according to a request for examinations and written discovery by Blackjewel, its related debtors and unsecured creditor committee.
W.Va. governor nods to alternative coal uses in State of the State Address
With the world moving away from burning coal to generate power, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he is looking forward to alternative uses for a natural resource that has long been economically important to the state. The U.S. Department of Energy rolled out a $56.5 million program in late 2019 to fund research into new uses for coal while Consol Energy Inc. recently entered the coal-to-products space by acquiring a 25% interest in CFOAM Corp., a newly formed company developing products for various markets, including composite tooling and energy-absorbing.
Democrats to target 100% US clean energy standard in pending climate bill
The U.S. would need to derive 100% of electricity sales from clean energy resources by 2050 under a draft climate change bill that Democratic lawmakers will unveil later in January. On Jan. 8, Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce released details of a pending climate bill to be entitled The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation's Future Act, or CLEAN Future Act.
6 coastal states back Washington in coal export terminal permit denial
Six coastal states filed a legal brief backing Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and his staff in a case regarding a coal export terminal. Coal producer Lighthouse Resources Inc., through subsidiary Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC, has proposed to build a coal export terminal in Washington, allowing western coal producers better access to Asian coal demand centers.
US SEC staff declines NorthWestern's plea to weigh in on coal-related resolution
Staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission declined to weigh in on whether NorthWestern Corp. can block an environmental resolution from going to a vote at its 2020 annual meeting, leaving the utility and shareholder to duke the matter out in court or reach a deal. In a Jan. 9 letter posted on the SEC's website, staff noted that litigation is pending regarding the resolution.