Biden Faces Harsher Sale on Sen. Manchin’s Expense Bill as Coal Prices Hit 12-Year High | New

WASHINGTON – Central Appalachian coal prices at a 12-year high could give West Virginia a boost, just as President Joe Biden has to persuade his Senator Joe Manchin to back a $ 2 tax and spending package. Trillion dollars which includes measures against climate change.

Biden’s Build Back Better package is now moving to the Senate after the House passed it on Friday. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is at the center of negotiations for the proposal which includes spending on child and senior care, but also initiatives to reduce reliance on coal by investing in energy technologies own. Progressives want ambitious spending and environmental regulations to meet climate goals.

A recovery-induced increase in global electricity demand could put Biden’s flagship legislation in a double bind, validating the importance of coal and natural gas as base fuels, but also contributing to rising inflation which, according to Manchin, is a major concern while passing another big package of government spending.

“I can tell you that the West Virginia coal market has never been so hot. They cannot produce enough coal for global demand, ”Manchin said Tuesday as he called a Senate committee hearing on rising energy prices. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing today. I never saw it.”

The House passed the bill Biden campaigned on Friday. One Democrat, Maine Rep. Jared Golden, joined all Republicans in voting no. As the legislation now moves towards a deadlocked Senate, where Republicans also unanimously oppose it, Biden needs the votes of Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to pass.

Rising coal prices are a potential boon for West Virginia. Central Appalachian coal climbed more than $ 10 in the week ended Nov. 12 to $ 89.75 per tonne in the spot market, the highest since 2009.

Most coal mines are already operating at full capacity and the vast majority of their production is under contract, so they cannot take full advantage of the sudden surge in spot prices. However, those gains are enough to entice junior mining companies to reopen their unused facilities, said Brian Lego, assistant research professor at West Virginia University.

He has seen mines reopen in the south of the state before, some backed by private equity firms looking to profit from soaring export prices. This means more jobs in a region that has been hit hard by previous downturns in the coal industry, and then by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Decades of declining demand for coal has hit southern West Virginia hard, with production down 77% since 2001. Mines in the upstate have increased production by about 10%. % since then.

The increase in demand also means more competition to attract minors in a tight labor market. Some companies have increased wages by 10% to 12% from 2019 levels, according to Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, a Pennsylvania coal trader who works with multiple suppliers.

Rising coal prices could also hurt consumers in West Virginia, who still get 93% of their electricity from coal-fired power plants, compared to a US average of 25%.

But Kevin Book of Clearview Energy Partners said the benefits of higher prices in West Virginia far outweigh the costs.

“You’re going to get more oomph in West Virginia from the mouth of the mine and the ripple effects of the economy than you might lose from increases in electricity prices,” a- he declared.

In talking points to West Virginia, the White House said the welfare spending bill would help the United States meet its climate goals “in a way that creates well-paying union jobs, develops domestic industries and advance environmental justice “. New vocational training programs offered by the state’s 11 community colleges would help transition to the jobs of the future in public health, child care, manufacturing, information technology and clean energy.

But in West Virginia, there is deep skepticism about the government’s ability to deliver on its promises.

“Forever, that area is basically, ‘Why are you against smut? “Whenever you try to talk about anything other than coal,” said State Senator Ron Stollings, a Democrat who represents the coal town of Logan in southern West Virginia. “I am not against coal. It’s just that we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. We’ve had this and it’s coming back just to devastate us.


(Note: Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP – the parent company of Bloomberg News – has committed $ 500 million to Beyond Carbon, a campaign to shut down remaining coal-fired power plants in the United States by 2030 and stop the development of new natural gas power plants. He also launched a campaign to shut down a quarter of the world’s remaining coal plants and cancel all proposed coal plants by 2025.)


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