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?

High school admin shut down this valedictorian graduation speech

❝ Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s high school valedictorian and class president, Peter Butera, did not mince words during his valedictory speech at his graduation ceremony June 16…Butera — who is due to attend Villanova University come fall — took the opportunity to thank his fellow students and the teachers and administrators who enriched his high school experience — and to stand up to those who had not.


Class president all 4 years of high schoolDave Scherbenco/AP

“Good evening, everyone. The past four years here at Wyoming Area have been very interesting to say the least. To give you an idea of what it was like, I’m going to take this time to tell you all a bit about what my Wyoming Area experience was like and the people who were a part of it.

I would like to start off by thanking my mom, my dad, and my baba, who have raised me since the day I was born and have helped me become the person I am today. Every one of us graduating have those special people in our lives that care for us every day, and love us unconditionally. And to all of you here today, we cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.

I would now like to recognize a few teachers who are extremely committed to their jobs as educators, and have worked to make me and many others, better students every day: Mr. Hizynski, Mr. Pizano, and Mr. Williams. In addition to these three, there are a number of other very good teachers at our school as well. It is dedicated teachers like these that truly help to develop students and prepare them to further their educations.

Not only does Wyoming Area have some great teachers, but a couple great administrators as well. Mr. Quaglia had been our principal for 3.5 years, and was as great a leader as they come, always extremely caring and reasonable. Over the summer, our school hired a new principal, Mr. Pacchioni, and despite the hesitancy that some students may have had about getting a new principal our senior year, he quickly put that to rest by coming in and always looking out for the students here since day 1.

Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. However, at our school, the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.

Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students. Because at the end of the day, it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area Alumni. And I hope that every one of my fellow classmates today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world, and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”

I’m hard-pressed to understand why the drones in charge of education in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, felt they had to shut this lad’s speech down. When I graduated high school – a couple centuries ago in the bowels of McCarthyism – I think there were plenty of schools with sufficient gumption and commitment to traditional American ideals to support a speech like this one.

More than ever, I fear for the future of American education if this pretty moderate challenge to obedience is considered dangerous enough to pull the plug on the sound system.

Arch Coal stuffed $8 million into the pockets of execs the day before bankruptcy


Ex-Governor Freudenthal sold his shares in Arch just before bankruptcy

Arch Coal paid its top executives more than $8 million in bonuses the business day before the company filed for bankruptcy in January, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri filings published last week.

Securities and Exchange Commission records also show that 12 company insiders exercised or converted about 88,000 “phantom stocks”…worth more than $70,000 that same Friday, Jan. 8, 2016.

On the following Monday, Jan. 11, Arch announced it had filed for bankruptcy protection…

The most notable transactions Arch made in the days before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to court and SEC filings, were payments of $8.12 million in bonuses to seven of its corporate officers, including its CEO, Chief Financial Officer and president…

Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the bonus payments “could be very likely voided by a bankruptcy court.”

Bankruptcy courts scrutinize a company’s financial transactions and payments made during the 90 days before that firm filed for protection. Hufbauer called the $8.12 million on the eve of bankruptcy “really suspicious…”

Of the 12 insiders named in transactions with phantom stock, 10 were board members and the remaining two were Drexler, the CFO, and Cochran, senior vice president of operations…a form filed Jan. 12 but dated four days before lists David Freudenthal, the former Democratic governor of Wyoming, and shows that 2,757 shares worth $2,288.31 were disposed of.

“It seems strange that you would have such a coincidence,” said Thaya Brook Knight, associate director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, referring to the short window between the Friday transactions and the Monday morning bankruptcy declaration.

Court documents also show Arch made two other payments on the business day before it sought bankruptcy protection.

One was a $12,540 payment to the Algonquin Golf Club in St. Louis, where the firm is headquartered, and the other a $10,680 payment to the Bellerive Country Club, also in St. Louis.

Hey, these captains of industry have to use up some of that free time they now have – since the company they guided through the seas of American commerce has sunk. Playing golf will at least keep them walking around in the fresh air.

Wyoming rakes in more than $4.4 Million from taxes on wind-power


Click to enlargeDave Showalter

More than $4.4 million was generated from taxes on wind production across Wyoming in the last fiscal year, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Albany, Carbon, Converse, Laramie, Natrona and Uinta counties share in $2.7 million with the state’s portion of the revenue at slightly more than $1.7 million…

This year’s taxes from wind-generated electricity are the tip of the iceberg to state and local coffers. When the Chokecherry Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project’s 1,000 wind turbines come online, they could eventually bring in more $10 million in revenues annually, from wind generation alone.

Coupled with property taxes and the sales and use tax, Chokecherry promises to be a financial boon to Carbon County, said Kara Choquette, communications director for the Power Company of Wyoming…

“This represents a very significant and positive financial impact for the county, all of the public entities that get a portion of the property taxes and all of the cities and towns that get a portion of the sales and use tax.” Choquette said. “Along with the generation tax, it’s in the hundreds and millions of dollars. That’s a pretty significant increase over what Wyoming is getting now from all of the wind turbines combined.”

We have much of the same potential plus more solar – especially in downstate New Mexico. Of course the state engineer’s office made the determination that we could be a net power exporting state in wind-generated electricity 20 years ago. Our beloved PNM took no notice.

Congrats to Wyoming for making this growing infrastructure part of a larger picture beyond public utility executives patting themselves on the back.

Of course, we’re all farting around – dawdling behind Colorado when it comes to doing something sensible like legalizing marijuana. A renewable resource that slows traffic, generates income for the state and jobs for the young at heart – and brings miles of smiles.

Man does not bite dog — dog shoots him anyway!

truck dog
Different truck — different dog

Authorities in Wyoming said a man was shot in the arm when his dog stepped on a loaded gun in the back seat of his pickup truck.

Johnson County Sheriff Steve Kozisek said Richard Fipps, 46, of Sheridan, was standing next to his pickup truck Monday when his dog climbed from the front seat to the back seat and stepped on the loaded .300 Winchester Magnum, which did not have its safety activated.

The gun fired off a round that struck Fipps in the left arm, Kozisek said.

Kozisek said evidence from the scene and statements from two employees who were working with Fipps at the time of the incident support Fipps’ version of events.

I hope the dude survives OK – but, dumb enough having the safety off with a weapon bouncing around in a motor vehicle. Even dumber is having a round in the chamber.

Pic of the day

A young grizzly bear hitches a ride on his mum’s back in a bid to prevent his paws getting cold as his mum hunts for food in the freezing snow. Steve Hinch photographed the pair from a safe distance in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

How two phony Wyoming corporations duped the Pentagon


Wyoming house big enough to house 2000 corporations?

Two companies incorporated at a little house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, won Pentagon contracts after their owner took advantage of the state’s liberal incorporation laws to create the firms using an alias, and then represented them as minority-owned to win favorable treatment as a military supplier. The firms and their owner were later banned from doing business with the Pentagon for providing knock-off parts.

A Reuters investigation has found that more than 2,000 companies are registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue in Cheyenne, the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business incorporation company that specializes in corporate anonymity.

Among the firms incorporated there is a small subset that make their money from government contracts.

A Reuters review of federal contracting databases found nine firms registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue have been awarded 93 contracts worth more than $1.6 million by a half dozen government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than 90 percent of the contracts were awarded by the Department of Defense…

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