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tv   Washington Journal Manuel Quinones Discusses State of the Coal Industry  CSPAN  May 9, 2017 7:32am-8:00am EDT

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inclination towards party affiliation. finally, the truth will come out about how much of these things -- the democrats were interested in putting down trump and everything that he stood for. the republicans wanted to expose who was doing the leaking. did not give too much insight into what is the truth. host: as we said earlier, we will spend the rest of today's program putting a spotlight on the coal industry. ed and regulated -- later today, we take you live to powhatan point, ohio. to the murray entergy
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corporation, the ohio valley trans loading center. before we do that, we are joined here in our capitol hill studio by manuel quinones, deputy editor of environment and energy news. let's talk about the rock itself. what are the main types of coal that our mind in united states -- that are mined in the united states? guest: you have endocyte coal in pennsylvania -- anthracite coal in pennsylvania. then you have a type of coal it is moregnite -- brown, has less energy. it is still used, especially in north dakota.
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there is a plant in mississippi that now wants to use lignite coal. it ranges. host: you talk about the ranges of coal. what kind of mines are there in the united states? guest: many people assume all coal plants -- many are used to make iron and steel. mines are for that etal -- how much countries are developing how much steel we need to make buildings. host: manuel quinones is our first guest this morning. special phone lines today. we want to hear your comments --
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coal miners and family members of coal miners, 202-748-8001. otherwise, lines are split up regionally. ,entral and eastern time zones 202-748-8000. mountain pacific time zones, 202-748-8002. let's talk about the power plants themselves. where will you find coal power plants in the united states? guest: they are all over the country. you have a lot of coal-fired power plants in ohio and indiana and missouri. western states, you've got southern states -- it really runs the gamut. if you look at the ohio valley area, an area that has been historically coal heavy because it is easy to transport, you have rivers and rail and a lot
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of mines nearby, but really, it is distributed across the country. there's a lot of states that have tried to move away from coal. a lot of states have been moving away and a lot of power plants have been shifting, so the map has shrunk. host: that map we are showing our viewers is from the u.s. energy administration. you talk about the market conditions. let's talk about the price of coal in recent years and decades. the cost of coal and how it relates to why it's used or how it's used by different power plants. guest: the industry, their biggest selling point -- coal is cheap and it's not very volatile in price. if you look at a chart of coal prices over time, you will see some spikes but surprisingly little volatility.
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-- the price it takes cost to produce energy out of that coal. historically, that price has been lower than other fuel sources. natural gas prices have gone down dramatically because of the big fracking shell discoveries in pennsylvania and elsewhere -- shale discoveries in pennsylvania and elsewhere. for many facilities, it is cheaper to bring gaston coal. burn gas than coal. we see such an abundance of gas that has led many authorities to --nge business host: this chart from the u.s. energy information administration -- electricity generation by source.
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the black line at the top of that is coal from the 1950's. it's share as a percentage of u.s. electricity generation. , started going down in the 1990's. the orange line is the line for natural gas. is natural gas the biggest competitor to coal? guest: it is definitely the biggest competitor now. surpassed coal as a power production fuel in the u.s., that was a big milestone. at first, it started surpassing is slightly and then coal went back to being the dominating force and gas overtook it -- more renewables are coming in. retain largeoal to
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chunks of the market but for renewables to come up and take more of the marketplace. host: you mentioned the regulatory regime. it is called more heavily regulated than other essential power sources? guest: coal is heavily regulated. the obama administration moved to increase regulations on coal. to power plants to after the power plant. develop regulations that encourage more natural gas use. the clean power plants the trump administration is trying to encouraged power plants to use gas, making it more difficult for them to use coal. also quite is heavily regulated because when you burn it at the power plant, you still have the pollution controls. coal being more polluting when it is burned, the regulations
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become more stringent. host: manuel quinones has covered the coal industry for how many years now -- guest: i would say about six years. host: to see his work. line for coal miners -- for coal miners. regions,and pacific 202-748-8002. we start in york city with michael. good morning. -- new york city with michael. caller: thank you for dedicating some time to this issue. i would natural resources and energy is extremely important. i have a comment in the question. government and private organizations talk about how coal is used and how the president is rolling back obama
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regulations on coal, it seems like we are trying to bring back horse and buggy technology to the auto industry. i don't understand why coal, which is such a gated technology -- dated technology is still something debated and we are not putting enough emphasis or the industry is not putting enough emphasis on more refined and more technologically advanced energy sources. that much ofry in a power role in the american energy field where they are retarding development for business? i heard you say that coal is relatively inexpensive. is the industry really holding thatdevelopment so much so
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they are ignoring new technology? guest: that is an interesting question. ,he first part of the question a lot of people in the coal industry would say it is a misconception that it is horse and buggy technology. until very recently, coal was the dominant source of power production. shocks had the energy decades ago, the u.s. government promoted the use of coal because it is such an abundant fuel. there have been a lot of technological advances in how that coal is burned. you have more efficient power plants which can burn less coal cleanly to produce the same amount of electricity. the coal industry has been very active in lobbying against
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environmental regulations and carbon regulations. they tend not to be friendly to government subsidies for renewable power. the are fighting for the government to focus on developing technologies to burn ly andven more clean trap greenhouse emissions. what they don't want is for the tip the scales in favor of other sources when there is a potential for technological improvement there, too. host: when people talk about clean coal technology, what part of the process are they referring to? guest: it is a married of technologies. -- myriad of technologies. plants that can turn coal into
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gas before the gas is burned. washington policy circles, when you think of clean coal technology, you're talking about carbon capture and sequestration and utilization. you burn coal at the power plant and trap the carbon emissions and you either store them underground or use them to enhance old oil wells. that is something the obama administration and trump administration and the industry have been working to promote. the problem is it is extremely expensive. especially in the recent market, you have utilities -- coal advocates telling utilities to invest more in these technologies. costs this much to switch to natural gas. why should i invest in this? host: silver spring, maryland.
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caller: good morning. i'm loving this show right now. during the campaign, trump promised he would bring back coal mining jobs. the president if can bring back those jobs in 2017 when we have an alternative that is even cheaper. can the government bring back those jobs and force us to use something that is more expensive than what we have now? guest: that is a question that has been in the news a lot. was sayingate trump he was going to bring back coal jobs, even the most ardent coal supporters told him you shouldn't make such promises most independent analysts will tell you that things will not go back to the way they used to be.
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a lot of coal mining companies are reporting a surge. trump is now president, we have people coming in that weren't working, we have more production -- we had a strong bottom in recent years. there was a bump expected anyway. the top administration had moved to try to roll back relations that were costly for the industry. when it comes to big job gains, even coal boosters will agree that they are not going to return to where they used to be. we've lost tens of thousands of coal mining jobs in recent years you might get a few thousand more. it's just not want to be where it used to be. host: as the trump administration said anything about when there might be a big bump in jobs? they are trying to help -- guest: not really.
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i haven't heard any dates saying it will come at this point. they're moving on the clean power plan. washe same time, that rule already saved by the court -- stayed by the court, so it wasn't in effect. some coal miners were saying it would decimate the industry. that will never had a chance to into effect before president trump rescinded it. there's been an increased campaign to increase safety regulations. they've been going into effect for years. it's hard to tell how much these regulations will make a difference. , theorale and investment government will not regulate as much, that will make a difference. underground, it remains to be seen. host: this chart from the bureau
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-- 72,600tatistics jobs in the united states, down from the first quarter of 2016 from 78,900 jobs. we will be talking about those jobs and the people in the industry. we want to hear from coal miners and their families. special line for you, 202-748-8000. maryland.xt in caller: i want to make three comments. aret of the ceos controlling coal plants, they don't live in the area, they don't drink from the same water that the waste goes into. it's interesting that nobody brings up that fact. the second comment, i've been hearing so much about coal is members ofll that --
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congress just passed a bill, $3 billion for the health care of coal miners. othert know about every person listening, but the government is not taking care of my medical needs. the coal companies are not taking the lead on caring for the sick from this really dangerous job. since i mentioned this before, we need loud who can counter this information and we need some sort of fact check -- it's easy to get people uninformed about the effects to the environment and the pollution. i can's as a chemist and nobody talks about these things. -- i can speak as a chemist.
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host: stick around today. we will have a lot of different guests on this topic, including the ceo of a coal company who lives in the area, robert murray of my energy is coming in at 8:00. -- murray energy is coming in at 8:00. bill johnson will be joining us at 8:30 this morning. -- at, vivian stockman 9:00, vivian stockman will join us. and then if his generation miner will be with us, live from powhatan point. nick mullins is his name. minerifth-generation will be with us. guest: that is a good lineup. i want to address the ceo water concern you brought up. indeed come in by mentalists point that out a lot. environmentalists
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point that out a lot. when they come to capitol hill to testify, they bring water that is tainted and say this water has been tainted by the it doesn'tess that seem to make a big difference in thepolitical discussion people for more regulation will keep on with that belief. complicated -- the united mine workers of america had a pension and health-care plan. both are imperiled. lawmakers wanted to have congress step in and support these two benefit plans. they decided to start up with health care because they thought doing pensions and health care
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was too much of a risk. supporters of this will tell you there was a promise made to coal miners into the union for the government -- and to the union for the government to take over the pensions. there was a promise to do this -- since then, the federal government has stepped into back up those union benefits. legislation having to do with mine reclamation -- the extended a program to reclaim abandoned mines and they had a formula to get a cut of interest dollars. enough,ed up not being especially with the downturn in the market. so, congress had to step in again. should congress have done this?
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was there a promise to the mine rs? this has been going on for years . the miners got their health benefits predicted. -- protected. the pensions are still pending. host: we will be going out to powhatan point, ohio for several interviews today, the a keys of coal -- transfer point for one of the mines in ohio to power plants up and down the ohio river. one of the individuals who works there is jimmy holiday -- jamie holiday -- i want to show an inerview we did with him which he describes what actually happened each day at the trans
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loading facility there. [video clip] >> we have a trans loading facility that brings coal by train down to the harbor. we offloaded the trains and loaded onto barges. one of the things we've realized years ago is barge transportation, water transportation is the most efficient way to ship products no matter what product it would be. i can put it into perspective for you. we loaded a barge down here in 40 minutes. takes 40 minutes to load one coal.with 1700 tons of when the barges leave our harbor, there's 15 of them wired together and one vote will pick boat will- one pick those up. it hundred 50 coal
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trucks to come up with that much coal dust 850 coal trucks to come up with that much coal. we can do it in one boat. barges vary from day to day. we can have up to 60 or 70 barges to load in our harbor at a time. powerplant is inside of 400 miles from here. which would take the coal probably two or three days to get there by water. still, it is a whole lot quicker than trying to use the roads to get there. host: how much coal comes through powhatan point on a daily basis? to many people does it take move it onto the barges? >> very minimal.
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operator on our reclaim pile up there. we have a boat crew that consists of a captain and a deck hand. also thean on duty is control room operator and our maintenance people. it doesn't take a lot of people to do what we do for the amount of coal that we ship now. host: that is where we will be for the most of today's program. we want to get one or two more calls with manuel quinones of environmental energy news. venice come florida, waiting on that line for coal miners. caller: good morning. mining family for 30 years.
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my husband was a superintendent of the long wall. he was devoted to the people in the area of southeastern ohio. he was just like a doctor. if that long wall down for two hours day or night, he got out , rain,and went back out snow come in different. -- back out, rain, snow, indifferent. i said, jim, why do you do this? there are so many families that this industry supports. , we caneave my family any in production -- i am advocate for hundreds of families in this area. mine has shut down.
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when i went back up a few months ago to that area, it is poverty, it is welfare. to the coalsay mining industry -- these people are trying to put their kids through college. these people are trying to have the lights that when people flip on a switch in oregon or california -- i'm an advocate for the coal mines. it's families. not just the industry, it's families. host: what did you take from that call? guest: i want to expound on the long wall -- it is an enormous machine underground that pushes against the wall of the coal seam and shears the coal off and puts it into conveyor belts.
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it is very impressive. howt of people talk about coal jobs were never all that abundant in the grand scheme of things around the country. now, even in coal producing states, they are just a fraction of them. so, why do we worry so much about the coal industry? a lot of this is in people's blood, is part of their culture and their heritage. it is hard for a lot of people to just say, ok, let's move on. especially when, for so many decades, it has provided a good living. coal miners make good money for places away from these metro areas. host: manuel quinones


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