King Coal’s Stages of Grief


King Coal’s Stages of Grief: Acceptance Reaches the Coalfields

, senior energy analyst

In the last few weeks, statements from elected officials in West Virginia highlighted the urgent need for economic diversification in the coalfields. It led me to wonder, has acceptance of the reality of this energy transition finally reached the coalfields? Read more >

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The Latest Reality Check for Coal: A Surprising Message from West Virginia

, senior energy analyst

A news story posted yesterday in the Charleston Gazette-Mail hit my inbox at least five times this morning. The article acknowledges something we’ve been talking about for quite some time—the reality that the coal industry is simply not going to return to its heyday of years past.

What’s surprising about the piece is not the message—it’s the source. The person making this point was the president of West Virginia’s largest electric utility. It reminded me of my King Coal’s Stages of Grief series from earlier this summer, and led me to wonder, have we finally reached the acceptance phase? Read more >

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

, senior energy analyst

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

, senior energy analyst

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

, senior energy analyst

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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