By Andrew Topf
A Washington State company is trying to resist the wave of U.S. coal mine and coal plant closures by re-opening the John Henry Mine in King County.
According to The Seattle Times, Pacific Coast Coal Co. wants to mine 85,000 to 90,000 tons a year over six years from the privately owned, 480-acre site.
If the plan is successful, it would mean the first time any coal has been mined from John Henry since 1999. Mining first began there in 1986.
The proposal is under federal review but the restart looks promising according to a September 2017 Department of the Interior report which found that coal mining would not have a significant impact on the environment. However the report also states that the proposed mine “would result in negligible beneficial economic impacts,” with just 50 jobs created throughout the six years of mining plus a year of reclamation.
The Seattle Times notes that Washington and Tennessee are the only two states that delegate mining regulation to the federal government.
Of course the proposal is not without opposition, with King County Executive Dow Constantine vowing to stop the project.
“The Earth is rapidly moving toward global climate catastrophe, and the notion that we would have a company here digging up rocks and burning them, rocks that should be left underground, is not consistent with the values of the people of our county,” Constantine was quoted saying. “I am going to do everything I can, legally and politically, to prevent us from having to suffer the impacts from coal mining in King County.”
Meanwhile Bloomberg reports that a year after Donald Trump won the presidency promising to put coal back on track, it hasn’t happened:
In fact, what was true under President Barack Obama is still true today: Coal’s share of the power mix is declining, and wind and solar remain the fastest-growing U.S. sources of electricity.
Building and operating a utility-scale wind farm costs as little as $30 a megawatt-hour over its lifetime — as little as $14 if you count subsidies. Keeping an existing coal plant running costs $26 to $39 a megawatt-hour, according to Lazard Ltd. And solar is on its way to becoming the cheapest power source on Earth.
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