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Jeremy Richardson

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About the author: Jeremy Richardson is a senior energy analyst in the Climate and Energy program, conducting analytical work on the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations. Prior to this position, Dr. Richardson was a Kendall Science Fellow and researched the fundamental cultural and economic drivers of coal production in West Virginia. He has a Ph.D. and M.S. in physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as a B.S. in Physics from West Virginia University. Subscribe to Jeremy's posts

Most States Well on the Path to Comply with Final Clean Power Plan

On August 3, President Obama announced the release of the final Clean Power Plan (CPP), setting the first ever limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. Today, UCS is releasing an updated version of our States of Progress analysis, which calculates the progress states are expected to make toward meeting their CPP emission reduction targets based on committed clean energy actions. We find that 31 states are on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their 2022 emission rate benchmarks, and that 20 states are on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their final 2030 CPP rate-based compliance targets. Read More

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Depression to Hope: King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 5

In my ongoing series looking at the decline of the coal industry, we come to maybe the most painful stage of grief: depression. It’s also the most personal. I can only imagine how someone like my brother, a coal miner, must feel facing an uncertain future and seeing layoffs all around.

In this post we’ll take a look at how job losses in the industry have affected communities around Appalachia, and we will point toward some positive steps forward, toward the final stage: acceptance and hope for a better future. Read More

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King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 4: Bargaining for Delay

This week’s post in my ongoing series focuses on the third stage of grief, bargaining. The U.S. coal industry continues to get hammered by a series of terrible earnings reports, an ongoing wave of bankruptcies, and falling bond prices. Since my last post, Alpha Natural Resources has been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because of consistently and unusually low stock prices, and Arch Coal executed a 10-1 reverse stock split in an effort to delay the same fate. In the bargaining stage, the grieving person typically looks for ways to avoid the ultimate fate, or buy time. For the coal industry, the bargaining stage manifests itself as industry supporters trying to delay any attempt to limit pollution from coal, including action to reduce carbon emissions. Read More

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Misdirected Anger on Full Display in the Purported “War on Coal” — King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 3

In my previous post in this series, I wrote about how coal has become uneconomic—and how that has led to great financial risk for companies in the coal mining business. I noted that some analysts are predicting a wave of bankruptcies in the industry. As reported last month, the industry’s market value has fallen by half in less than a year. On Wednesday Alabama-based Walter Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Alpha Natural Resources is now in bankruptcy talks as well.

These events are having and will continue to have real world impacts on the folks employed at these companies. Which leads me to the second stage of grief: anger. Read More

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King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 2: Financial Risk and the Economics of Coal

This post continues my series on King Coal’s Stages of Grief, and focuses on more denial—this time about economics. Yesterday the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that the production of coal from mountaintop removal (MTR) mining has decreased by 62 percent since 2008. And last month, Bank of America released its new Coal Policy, committing to phasing out financial support for mountaintop removal coal mining. Read More

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King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 1: Facing the Facts

Coming from a coal mining family, I’m well aware of the seemingly vast coal resource underground and how extracting that resource has helped boost local economies, including the one where I grew up. As the reality of climate change sets in, however, and the impacts of burning fossil fuels become all too real, it’s clear that the status quo is not sustainable. Looking at the recent incredible growth in wind and solar, the boom in shale gas from fracking, and headline after headline full of bad news for the coal industry, I began wondering, How does it feel to be a coal miner right now? And more importantly, how do we ensure the future is hopeful for them as well? It’s a deeply personal question to me. Read More

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The Surprising Facts About the Clean Power Plan: Most States Are Already On Track to Meet 2020 Benchmarks for Reducing Carbon Emissions

A new analysis released today by UCS shows that most states are already making progress toward cutting carbon emissions from power plants by shifting from coal-fired power to cleaner generation sources like renewable energy, energy efficiency, and natural gas. As a result of recent decisions and state laws that predate the proposed Clean Power Plan, 31 states have already made commitments that would put them more than halfway toward meeting the 2020 benchmarks set out by the EPA, and 14 of those states are already on track to meet or exceed them, including some unlikely suspects. Read More

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What Does the Clean Power Plan Mean for Virginia? A Real Opportunity for Renewable Energy

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has recently said he “fully supports” the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing power plants. The governor last month signed a suite of clean energy bills into law. Clean sources like renewable energy and energy efficiency can go a long way toward getting the state where it needs to be. Read More

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Pennsylvania Governor Proposes Big Investments in Renewable Energy and Efficiency

Today, in his first budget address as Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf proposed $325 million in investments in the state’s energy sector, including significant investments in wind, solar, and energy efficiency. This proposal is part of an overall economic development plan aimed at investing in education and creating high-paying jobs across the Commonwealth. What does it mean? Read More

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An Energy State in Transition: Pennsylvania Can Be a Renewable Energy Leader

In many ways, the Keystone State is the epicenter of the energy transition underway in this country. Historically an important coal producer, Pennsylvania remains the fifth largest coal-producing state, accounting for 5 percent of the nation’s total coal production in 2013. And the state is on the front lines of the booming Marcellus shale gas production. But how far along is the state in transitioning to cleaner energy, and how much farther could it go in developing renewables? Read More

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