Daily Digest

Coal miners, lawmakers push federal government for health care

COAL: A West Virginia senator told coal miners there’s enough bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that would continue to fund their health care as coal miners vow 30 days of pressure on Congress to act. (Charleston Gazette-Mail, Washington Times)

ALSO:
• A bipartisan group of lawmakers from coal country, including Virginia and West Virginia, has asked President Donald Trump for more money for black lung health clinics. (NPR)
• Appalachia has a “complicated, often broken or mismanaged system” to help coal miner with black lung disease. (WV Public Broadcasting)
• Virginia’s Republican lawmakers and Democratic governor are at odds over the best way to help Virginia’s struggling coal country. (Virginia Public Radio)
• A bipartisan group of lawmakers from Appalachian states introduced a bill to speed up payments of $1 billion to communities affected by the coal industry’s decline. (Times News)
• The personal finances of an official with West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection are being reviewed under the conflict-of-interest provisions of the federal strip mining law. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Demand from steelmakers boosts coal shipments and prompts operators to reopen mines in Virginia and West Virginia. (Daily Press)

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COAL ASH:
• The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun drying and capping the last coal ash impoundment at a plant in rural Alabama, which it decided to close in 2013. (Times Daily)
• The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public comment on a plan to switch from wet to dry coal ash storage at a western Kentucky power plant. (Associated Press)

FRACKING: Florida lawmakers now say the possibility of a fracking ban is dead for this year because some House Republicans want a study to determine the potential impacts. (Saint Peters Blog)

OIL: The federal government will hold five public meetings around the Gulf Coast on the proposed region-wide oil lease sales next year. (Associated Press)

UTILITIES: Customers of the four investor-owned electric utilities in Arkansas are now paying more for their electricity because of the price increase of natural gas. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

CLIMATE:
• Large shareholders are supporting a proposal to require Duke Energy to detail the impact that the Paris Agreement’s targets on global warming would have on its operations. (Charlotte Business-Journal)
• A Louisiana lawmaker says President Donald Trump’s unraveling of climate change rules will help his state fight climate-induced sea level rise(The Times-Picayune)

SOLAR:
• Solar advocates say they “broke the logjam” in Virginia with new legislation this year. (Virginia Business)
• A study says Virginia’s solar job market grew 65 percent last year, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe says is a testament to his administration’s focus on solar energy. (Associated Press)
• A South Carolina town now produces 2 MW of solar power with the addition of an array on a manufacturing plant. (Post and Courier)
• Georgia solar customers feel “victimized” by sudden changes in billing. (Macon Telegraph)

PIPELINES:
• There are dueling perspectives between gas companies and environmentalists about impacts of the Sabal pipeline project. (Orlando Sentinel)
• There are a number of new pipeline projects proposed in West Virginia, where the shale revolution has opened access to abundant gas supplies and created the need for more infrastructure. (Herald-Dispatch)
• Industry officials say proposed pipelines for West Virginia are safe and essential to economic growth, while environmental groups say the benefits do not outweigh the risks. (Herald-Dispatch)

NUCLEAR:
• The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public comment on selling an unfinished nuclear plant in Alabama to a company that plans to make it operational(The Chattanoogan)
• Santee Cooper outlook stumbles in the wake of the Westinghouse bankruptcy, while analysts agree customers will see further rate increases(Post and Courier)

COMMENTARY:
• Columnist Paul Krugman says coal country isn’t really coal country anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time. (New York Times)
• Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade says it’s time to create “a new generation of jobs in Virginia’s coal region. One area that shows tremendous promise is renewable energy.” (Roanoke Times)
• Nine-tenths of coal miners are gone and it is “glaringly visible” in West Virginia, says the editor emeritus of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• A North Carolina newspaper says “coal is a liability” and we should be burning less of it. (News & Record)

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