Guest “I don’t care who you are. That’s funny right there!” by David Middleton

Coal is Back… For Now
By Hoppy Kercheval
August 23, 2021

Coal is hot.

Even as the United States and many countries around the world pledge to reduce carbon emissions to slow climate change, the demand for coal has increased significantly.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently, “Coal use is surging in some of the world’s largest economies as electricity demand rebounds from the pandemic, illustrating the challenges to countries looking to wean themselves off the dirty but reliable fossil fuel.”

In an ironic twist, the contraction of the coal industry in this county is one of the primary reasons why coal is now booming.  Demand for both thermal and metallurgical coal is outstripping supply, driving up prices to levels not seen in several years.


“It’s difficult to get off coal because of security of supply,” Kathryn Porter, founder of energy consulting firm Watt-Logic, told the Wall Street Journal.  “At the end of the day, you need to keep the lights on.”


The question, however, is how long the boom will last.  “We hope that this is sustained,” Hamilton said.

That is unlikely in the long term given multiple factors that put downward pressure on the industry.  However, for now, it is good to be in the coal business.

MetroNews, The Voice of West Virginia

Hoppy Kercheval is known as “the radio ‘dean’ of West Virginia broadcasters.”

I went to the usually reliable EIA to get the latest graphs of historical coal production and prices and found this:

NYMEX coal futures

EIA no longer publishes NYMEX coal future prices, and all historical data are no longer available. You can find more information about NYMEX futures prices from the CME Group.

Coal Markets

And this:

This doesn’t really provide much context. Cancel Culture has apparently made inroads at the EIA.

So, I went to see FRED…

International Monetary Fund, Global price of Coal, Australia [PCOALAUUSDM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, August 24, 2021. FRED

The global coal price benchmark is Newcastle (Australia) and it’s booming.

Soaring demand for the world’s least-liked commodity sees thermal coal prices jump 106% this year

Sam Meredith

LONDON — Soaring electricity demand, infrastructure woes and a surge in global gas prices have triggered an extraordinary rally for the world’s least liked commodity.

Australian thermal coal at Newcastle Port, the benchmark for the vast Asian market, has climbed 106% this year to more than $166 per metric ton, according to the latest weekly assessment by commodity price provider Argus.

The Newcastle weekly index, which stood at a 2020 low of $46.18 in early September, now appears to be closing in on an all-time high of $195.20 from July 2008. Its South African equivalent, the Richards Bay index, ended the week through to Aug. 13 at $137.06 per metric ton, up more than 55% this year.

To put thermal coal’s remarkable rally into some context, international benchmark Brent crude is one of few assets to have recorded comparable gains this year. The oil contract is up 33% year-to-date.

The resurgence of thermal coal, which is burned to generate electricity, raises serious questions about the so-called “energy transition.” To be sure, coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel in terms of emissions and therefore the most important target for replacement in the pivot to renewable alternatives.

Yet, as policymakers and business leaders repeatedly tout their commitment to the demands of the deepening climate emergency, many still rely on fossil fuels to keep pace with rising power demand.



“Death Trains”?

“A freight train transports coal from the Gunnedah Coal Handling and Prepararation Plant, operated by Whitehaven Coal Ltd., in Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.”
David Gray | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Crackpot Nostalgia

Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them
James Hansen

Sat 14 Feb 2009


The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death. When I testified against the proposed Kingsnorth power plant, I estimated that in its lifetime it would be responsible for the extermination of about 400 species – its proportionate contribution to the number that would be committed to extinction if carbon dioxide rose another 100 ppm.

The German and Australian governments pretend to be green. When I show German officials the evidence that the coal source must be cut off, they say they will tighten the “carbon cap”. But a cap only slows the use of a fuel – it does not leave it in the ground. When I point out that their new coal plants require that they convince Russia to leave its oil in the ground, they are silent. The Australian government was elected on a platform of solving the climate problem, but then, with the help of industry, it set emission targets so high as to guarantee untold disasters for the young, let alone the unborn. These governments are not green. They are black – coal black.


The Grauniad

Who’s up for some Johnny Cash?

I Hear The Train A-Comin’; It’s Rollin’ ‘Round The Bend,
And I Ain’t Seen The Sunshine Since I Don’t Know When,
I’m Stuck At Folsom Prison And Time Keeps Draggin’ On.
But That Train Keeps A-Rollin’…Johnny Cash

via Watts Up With That?

August 25, 2021