Over half of US coal mined in 2017 came from 5 companies

More than half of the coal produced in the U.S. comes from five companies, with the largest company producing one in every five tons.

Peabody Energy Corp. far outproduced any other coal company in 2017 with 156.7 million tons from U.S. operations, a 20.3% share of the total coal produced in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of Peabody’s production came from a single mine, the North Antelope Rochelle mine in Wyoming, which is itself responsible for 13.1% of the coal produced in the entire country…

❝ “We’ll take a look at where our customer requirements are later as we progress through the year and see where we end up, but we are very focused on maintaining strong margins out of that basin,” Peabody Executive Vice President and CFO Amy Schwetz said Feb. 7…

Just to smell the money and power coal still has over a political economy…consider…

❝ In Wyoming, for example, two companies — Peabody and Arch — mine 64% of the coal in the state. Murray Energy controls 36% of the coal produced in West Virginia, while Alliance Resource Partners LP produced 39.7% of the coal mined in Kentucky in 2017.

How many politicians do you think they own – they might need to own – in a state, in Congress, to always get their way?

$175K settlement to copper who refused to shoot suspect he was talking down

❝ A West Virginia city has agreed to pay a former police officer $175,000 to settle a wrongful-termination lawsuit after he was fired following his decision not to shoot a distraught suspect who was holding a gun.

❝ “At the end of the day, I’m happy to put this chapter of my life to bed,” Stephen Mader said in a news release by the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.

“The events leading to my termination were unjustified and I’m pleased a joint resolution has been met. My hope is that no other person on either end of a police call has to go through this again…”

❝ Mader told CNN last year that Ronald “R.J.”Williams was “visibly choked up” and told Mader to shoot him. As a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, Mader told CNN that he concluded Williams wasn’t a threat and so he tried to de-escalate the situation.

As Mader was trying to get Williams to drop his gun, two other Weirton police officers arrived. Mader told CNN that Williams raised his gun and was immediately shot and killed by one of the other officers. A state investigation found the officer’s actions were justified.

RTFA. Conflicting truths – but, then, no one ever said it was easy being a cop. Working in a jurisdiction run by right-wing political punks doesn’t especially help.

Burning house floats away in millennium-class flood


Video in the article

West Virginia’s deadly deluge just took a turn for the apocalyptic. A burning building was swept down a creek after significant flooding in the small town of White Sulphur Springs…

A storm dumped up to nine inches of rain on parts of West Virginia…during a 24-hour period leading up to Thursday night, which set the stage for this alarming vision. The floods prompted a state of emergency in several counties around the state and caused at least four deaths…

You can update that to at least 44 counties and 23 dead.

From Paris to Houston, we’ve witnessed more than the world’s fair share of formidable floods in recent months, from the devastating to the truly surreal…Though it’s hard to pin the blame for any one extreme weather event on climate change, a shifting climate means heavier deluges in some areas and longer dry spells in others. Looks like West Virginia is getting a whole lot of the former.

Fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia – State of Emergency declared

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Click to access video

A train derailment Monday afternoon in West Virginia caused multiple explosions and a massive fire, and the CSX-owned train is leaking crude oil into the Kanawha River…

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency about 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Nearly three hours after that declaration, the fire was still burning, and 1,000 people had been evacuated, according to Lawrence Messina, the state’s public safety spokesman…

At least one home near the derailment in Fayette County caught fire and was destroyed, Messina said.

The derailment happened about 1:20 p.m. Eastern time as the 109-car train carrying Bakken crude oil was going from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va., Messina said. As many as 15 train cars were involved in the derailment and fire…

Crude oil from at least one of the rail cars is leaking into the Kanawha River, Messina said.

West Virginia American Water shut down its Montgomery treatment plant because the facility draws water from an area near the incident…

The plant will not be reopened until it is confirmed the water is safe, it said.

“Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anaesthetises thought, blurs vision, corrupts.”

― Ryszard Kapuściński, Shah of Shahs

A spill in West Virginia, in Chemical Valley

On the morning of Thursday, January 9, 2014, the people of Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to a strange tang in the air off the Elk River. It smelled like licorice. The occasional odor is part of life in Charleston, the state capital, which lies in an industrial area that takes flinty pride in the nickname Chemical Valley. In the nineteenth century, natural brine springs made the region one of America’s largest producers of salt. The saltworks gave rise to an industry that manufactured gunpowder, antifreeze, Agent Orange, and other “chemical magic,” as The Saturday Evening Post put it, in 1943. The image endured. Today, the Chemical Valley Roller Girls compete in Roller Derby events with a logo of a woman in fishnet stockings and a gas mask. After decades of slow decline, the local industry has revived in recent years, owing to the boom in cheap natural gas, which has made America one of the world’s most inexpensive places to make chemicals.

At 8:16 A.M., a resident called the state Department of Environmental Protection and said that something in the air was, in the operator’s words, “coating his wife’s throat.” Downtown, the mayor, Danny Jones, smelled it and thought, Well, it’s just a chemical in the air. It’ll move. A few minutes passed. “I stuck my mouth up to a water fountain and took a big drink, and I thought, We’re in trouble,” he recalls. People were calling 911, and the state sent out two inspectors. Eventually, they reached a chemical-storage facility run by Freedom Industries, a “tank farm,” with seventeen white metal pillbox-shaped containers clustered on a bluff above the Elk River.

The staff initially said that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but, when the inspectors asked to look around, a company executive, Dennis Farrell, told them that he had a problem at Tank No. 396, a forty-eight-thousand-gallon container of industrial chemicals. At the foot of the tank, the inspectors found a shallow open-air lake of an oily substance, gurgling like a mountain spring. When hazardous-material crews arrived, they followed a liquid trail under a concrete wall, into the bushes, and down a slope, where it disappeared beneath ice on the river.

Freedom Industries was obligated to report the spill to a state hot line. The operator, who identified herself as Laverne, asked what was leaking; the caller, a staff member named Bob Reynolds, said, “Uh, MCHM.”

“MCHM?” Laverne asked.

“Right,” he said, and offered the scientific name.

Laverne paused and said, “Say again?”

MCHM—4-methylcyclohexane methanol—is part of a chemical bath that the mining industry uses to wash clay and rock from coal before it is burned. There are more than eighty thousand chemicals available for use in America, but, unless they are expected to be consumed, their effects on humans are not often tested, a principle known in the industry as “innocent until proven guilty.” MCHM was largely a mystery to the officials who now confronted the task of containing it. But they knew that the site posed an immediate problem: it was a mile upriver from the largest water-treatment plant in West Virginia. The plant served sixteen per cent of the state’s population, some three hundred thousand people—a figure that had risen in the past decade, because coal mining has reduced the availability and quality of other water sources, prompting West Virginians to board up their wells and tap into the public system.

RTFA because we all need reinforcing on tales of politics and corporate greed in bed with each other. And how the rest of us are screwed to the wall because of their carelessness, lack of concern for ordinary citizens, their greed.

Freedom Industries chemical tanks ordered removed


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Steve Helber

The company whose storage tank spilled a chemical that tainted the water supply of 300,000 people in West Virginia must begin removing its above-ground storage tanks by March 15, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered on Saturday.

Freedom Industries must dismantle and remove 17 tanks and related equipment at its coal processing plant in Charleston, West Virginia, under Tomblin’s directive, part of a consent order signed by the company’s president and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection…

A January 9 spill of the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude MCHM, into the Elk River prompted the state to impose a ban on the use of tap water for 300,000 people in the Charleston region. The ban lasted as long as 10 days for some residents…

Tomblin declared a state of emergency while the chemical, used in coal processing, was flushed out of the water system.

Three of the 17 tanks at the Freedom Industries facility contained crude MCHM and the chemical PPH, and all three tanks are now empty, according to Tomblin’s statement. Material in the remaining 14 tanks contain calcium chloride and glycerin, the statement said.

It is criminal in this day and age to confront an interlocking directorate of politics and poisonous industries leftover from the 19th Century. In West Virginia, in most parts of the United States where extractive industries provide the only employment – you generally find a population never educated to look for better, work for anyone better. The opportunity to broaden, grow and modernize an economy hasn’t arrived on its own and local politicians couldn’t care less.

Mine owners pick up the tab for their elections along with additional out-of-state support from the sources you’d expect to back primitive working and living conditions: US Chamber of Commerce, chemical industry associations, fossil fuel speculators. The politics stink. The jobs stink. The earth and water stink!

Clean coal chemical spill puts up to 300,000 in danger

A chemical spill into a West Virginia river has led to a tap water ban for up to 300,000 people, shut down bars and restaurants and led to a run on bottled water in some stores as people looked to stock up.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency Thursday in several counties because of a chemical spill into the Elk River.

The advisory was expanded at night to nine counties and includes West Virginia American Water customers in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties…

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources told NBC affiliate WSAZ symptoms include: severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering…

Residents were told not to drink the tap water, bathe in it or cook with the water and only use it for flushing and fire emergencies. Boiling it will not remove the chemicals.

“Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools,” Governor Tomblin said in a statement. “I’ve been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible…”

West Virginia American Water did not provide a timeline for the clean-up process, but the company’s external affairs manager Laura Jordan told Reuters that the spill originated with Freedom Industries, a Charleston company…

Clean coal from Freedom Industries. Severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering are all you have to worry about.

Another non-stop example of crap ideology telling folks their freedom is being protected by burning coal instead of those commie pinko alternative energy plans. Just listen to the politicians and pundits who supplement their salary with kickbacks from coal companies – and everything will be all right.

Jay Rockefeller introduces “Do Not Track” bill in Congress

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a new “Do Not Track” bill to Congress that aims to hold companies accountable for collecting information on consumers after they’ve expressed a desire to opt out. Called the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 [.pdf], the bill would create a “universal legal obligation” for companies to honor users’ opt-out requests on the Internet and mobile devices, and would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to take action against companies that don’t comply…

According to the bill, the FTC would be tasked with coming up with standards for companies to implement within a year of the bill being signed into law. After a user makes a request to stop being tracked, the companies in question would only be able to continue collecting certain information on customers if it’s absolutely necessary in order for the site or service to function. That information must still be anonymized or destroyed after its usefulness expires, and the user must still give explicit consent for the information to be used that way…

Privacy groups seem impressed with the bill, pointing out that the FTC has a good deal of flexibility in tailoring a persistent opt-out mechanism. “This legislation would give Americans the right and the right tools to browse the Internet without their every click being tracked,” Consumer Protection director Susan Grant said on a call to discuss the bill after it was introduced. Chris Calabrese from the ACLU agreed, describing the bill as “a crucial civil liberties protection for the twenty-first century…”

Of course, the final details for how companies are supposed to comply with the guidelines of Rockefeller’s bill have yet to be hammered out, but the privacy groups seemed optimistic that the FTC could handle the burden. After all, the FTC itself has been pushing for a Do Not Track mechanism online since 2010, and the Obama administration has voiced its support for some kind of “consumer privacy bill of rights.” Also, three of the four major browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari) either already support or will soon support Do Not Track opt-out headers originally developed by Mozilla, giving the FTC an easier launching point.

Geeks generally come in three flavors of concern: those perfectly happy with providing their own means of security; those who could care less; and the ever-popular paranoid look-under-your-mouse-pad-every-night for electronic listening devices. I believe the average non-geek consumer fits in the middle category.

None of which predicts the response to the bill if it passes. I would think even the unconcerned would opt for non-tracking if it was a simple process. Paranoids won’t believe it’s possible in the first place – and will probably skip opting out because it might point out their presence on the planet.

Copyright trolls get a kicking in West Virginia court

Legal companies using scatter-gun practices to scare often innocent Internet users into coughing up cash have been delivered another blow by a West Virginia court.

The judge presiding over seven cases, which involve alleged piracy by more than 5,400 unidentified individuals, refused to allow them all to be dealt with at the same time.

In layman’s terms, the judge ruled that the fact that the accused had all used the same ISP and the same P2P file-sharing network wasn’t sufficient reason to lump them all together for the purposes of a trial.

Online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in an ebullient statement: “In these cases – as in many others across the country – the owners of the adult movies filed mass lawsuits based on single counts of copyright infringement stemming from the downloading of a pornographic film, and improperly lumped hundreds of defendants together regardless of where the IP addresses indicate the defendants live. The motivation behind these cases appears to be to leverage the risk of embarrassment associated with pornography to coerce settlement payments despite serious problems with the underlying claims…”

The ISP used by the alleged copyright infringers in the seven West Virginia cases, Time Warner Cable, moved to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of the accused filed sharers.

The judge ruled that the copyright trolls were free to pursue each case individually – but that would lead to the legal companies involved having to do some actual work, spend some actual time in court and produce some actual evidence in order to menace large sums of cash out of their randomly-selected victims.

Overdue.