Coal makes a comeback abroad, and who will replace the late, great Senator Birch?

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Trump hasn’t saved coal in W.Va. They don’t care
Kelsey Brugger, E&E News, Monday, August 19, 2019

It is true that since Trump took office there has been increased production in West Virginia of metallurgical coal, high-quality coal used to make steel, as well as steam coal exports, according to the West Virginia Coal Association. The state has more steam than metallurgical coal.
But that jump is largely attributable to international market forces as demand grows overseas, said West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Jason Bostic. While the United States continues to shutter coal-fired power plants, the developing world is building more plants to supply electricity.
“West Virginia has the highest quality in the world,” Bostic said. “You have to pay to burn and move it — you might as well buy the highest quality.”

Our take: A fascinating look into communities whose livelihood is directly linked to coal. And a great reminder that coal mining is not all about burning for energy, but also that it is used in metal-making. The tensions can be summed up later in the article: ‘Peeking out of the foothills along the highway are billboards that read, “If your lights are on, thank a coal miner.”’ Note to Democratic 2020 nominees—you will lose these votes.

Related: Coal may be dying, but growth in the seaborne market says not yet: Russell


By the deadline, at least 5 people apply for vacant Anchorage seat in Alaska Senate
James Brooks, ADN, August 18, 2019

At least five South Anchorage residents have applied to fill the Alaska Senate seat left open by the death of Sen. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, according to interviews Sunday evening.
The deadline for eligible Alaskans to submit an application to the Alaska Republican Party was 5 p.m. Sunday. The party did not immediately release a list of applicants, and party chairman Glenn Clary did not answer a call seeking comment, but five people are known to have applied: Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage; Rep. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage; former state senator and current Anchorage School Board member Dave Donley; Tali Birch Kindred, daughter of Chris Birch; and Al Fogle, who ran for the Legislature in 2018 and the Anchorage Assembly in 2017.
Under state law, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has 30 days to name a replacement for any Legislative vacancy. The replacement must be a registered voter of the same political party as the original legislator and be otherwise eligible to run for the seat. A replacement is also subject to confirmation by his or her counterparts; in this case, a majority of the Alaska Senate’s Republicans must approve Birch’s replacement before the person begins serving.

Our take: Best of luck to the candidates. Senator Birch leaves behind big shoes to fill.


Cook Inlet gas producer files for bankruptcy, citing lack of tax-credit payments and lack of production
Alex DeMarban, ADN, August 17, 2019

An Alaska natural gas producer filed for bankruptcy protection last week, pointing to challenges producing enough gas in Cook Inlet and the state’s decisions to withhold many millions of dollars in cash tax credits the company had counted on.
Furie Operating Alaska, owner of an offshore production platform in Cook Inlet and a subsea pipeline, wants to quickly find a buyer, the company’s interim chief operating officer told federal bankruptcy court in Delaware last Friday.
“The real big factor to me is the state promised payback on tax credits and that got vetoed,” [Dave Cruz, owner, Cruz Construction] said. “That hit ’em pretty doggone hard.”
After oil prices and state revenues crashed starting in 2014, the state began reducing the annual tax-credit payments it had long made to small independent companies to encourage oil and gas exploration. The state began paying the legal minimum required by law, rather than the amount companies applied for and had come to expect.
Former Gov. Bill Walker began capping the payments in 2015, and the Legislature later followed.
The Legislature has since ended the program, but the state still owes many companies. Furie says it’s owed $105 million.

Our take: Unfortunately, this is not new news and this has been building up for a long time. The Alliance supports a favorable business climate. It is difficult to do business when the rules change constantly. Dave Cruz’s comments are on point.