Up in Preston, three people arrested for trespassing on Cuadrilla's rig near Southport last year are diverting more money from the pressing needs of  working people by spinning the trial out for a second day. Frack Off are trying to push this one as Scopes trial de nos jours, but who's the monkey here? 

Now if the fracktivistes are consistent, then perhaps they should start a benefit for what even I see as one of the most blatant victims of shale gas.  Not in Preston Magistrates Court but:

Patriot Coal Corp filed for bankruptcy on Monday, the first U.S. coal producer to seek court protection since prices began to plummet as electricity producers turned to cheaper natural gas.

The company and nearly 100 affiliates were part of the Chapter 11 filing in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan. Patriot said it had $3.57 billion of assets and $3.07 billion of debts, and has arranged for $802 million of financing to help it continue mining and shipments during the reorganization.

And it's evil hydrocarbon industry  US government policy that's causing this:

Coal producers' shares have plummeted as natural gas prices tumbled to the lowest in a decade this year, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules that would make it nearly impossible to build coal-fired power plants.

Patriot said these factors, weaker economies worldwide and the cancellation of customer contracts led to reduced liquidity and financial flexibility.

While still the largest single fuel for electricity, coal's share fell to 36 percent in this year's first quarter from 45 percent a year earlier, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Let's forget about minor details like this

The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released a new report on the dramatic health hazards surrounding coal-fired power plants.

The report, “Toxic Air: The Case For Cleaning Up Coal-Fired Power Plants,” reveals the dangers of air pollution emitted by coal plants.

One of the starkest findings in the report claims, “Particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year.”

So what's the biggest culprit?

“Coal-fired power plants that sell electricity to the grid produce more hazardous air pollution in the U.S. than any other industrial pollution sources.” According to the report details, over 386,000 tons of air pollutants are emitted from over 400 plants in the U.S. per year. Interestingly, while most of the power plants are located in the Midwest and Southeast, the entire nation is threatened by their toxic emissions.

While the BBC, Frack Off and the Guardian have all run stories on people who claim their hair's falling out or their cow died, generally even they don't hold up to examination.That's some way off 13,000 premature deaths on the environmental catastrophe scale, but the sad case of Patriot Coal gets even worse.The entire US coal industry is hurting:

Shares in Patriot slid 72.1 percent on Monday, closing down $1.58 at 61 cents, after Bloomberg News reported that a bankruptcy filing was imminent.

Patriot shares had traded as high as $24.99 last July. Its 8.25 percent notes maturing in 2018 closed down 8.5 cents on the dollar at 34.5 cents, yielding 35.7 percent, according to the bond price reporting service Trace.

The selloff drove down shares of rivals Alpha Natural Resources Inc, Arch Coal Inc and Peabody Energy Corp, which fell a respective 7.5 percent and 6.7 percent and 6.2 percent.

Spun off from Peabody in 2007, Patriot has 12 active mining complexes in Appalachia and the Illinois Basin, and controls about 1.9 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves.

Call me devious, but the UK antis can look at this as a buying opportunity. What's been happening lately is US coal producers in a crashing market have seen their cargoes bought up and exported to Europe where coal is still so cheap (and even dirtier on those coal ships) against oil indexed gas over the past year, it has displaced gas even with higher carbon prices added on.

The play goes like this: Buy Patriot  dirt cheap and use it to prop up expensive Russian gas, renewables and nuclear in one fell swoop.  Gazprom should lend money to UK antis for that one. So what if coal kills 13,000 people a year? Not in Brighton it doesn't. And of course it will make the solar industry far more competitive.The fact that it won't clean up the air is besides the point.  




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  • The UK Eco lobby folk act as if they love coal.<br /><br />US moving away from coal, EU increasing it. <br /><br />http://peakoil.com/consumption/coal-rising-in-europe-while-gas-eyes-the-throne-in-the-us/<br /><br />Frack off act as if they are paid by the Koch Brothers to keep shale gas off the market so US coal can be exported to EU. I am sure they are not but if I was defending US coal the only strategy is to try and diss shale gas. <br /><br />Madness. We only have one planet, let's leave coal in the ground please.

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  • Totally agree, John.<br />I would just expand on your last line to say: let's leave coal in the ground and, if we ever need the energy, extract it by underground gasification.<br />There's an interesting project in S. Australia which shows the potential. Instead of conventional mining, underground gasification is going to be used. The gas generated will serve as feedstock for a chemical process which will produce vehicle fuel. Waste products and heat will generate power. Overall the aim is to meet most of the state's needs for fuel and power, all without sending anyone underground.

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  • Andy

    Check finance.google.com and it lets you check Patriot's competitor's in the coal industry. The one with the second highest market cap is CONSOL Energy--which has an active natgas drilling program!<br /><br />The future of the coal industry could be natgas, starting with coalbed methane, and moving to the shale which lies beneath in much of Appalachia. <br /><br />I know I make myself a bit of a bore going on about coalbed methane, and while certainly shale oil is where all drillers want to be right now, when the price of natural gas goes back up, the coalbed methane will still be there.

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