Coal in Wyoming Pt. 2 - Where We Stand Now

Submitted: May 24, 2017

Reported by, Aaron Groff


YOU TALK TO PEOPLE IN WYOMING AND THEY SHARE A WORD NOT HEARD FOR SOME TIME, OPTIMISM.


THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS BACK BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, AND THE COUNTRY SAW A SURPRISE ON NOVEMBER 8TH. THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP.

WYOMING GAVE PRESIDENT TRUMP HIS LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY, 58 POINTS, MUCH TO DO WITH HIS PRO-COAL, PRO OIL RHETORIC DURING THE CAMPAIGN. RIGHT NOW, HIS PROMISE OF JOBS IS A REAL ONE IN THE COWBOY STATE.

(CHARLIE TYRREL, FORMER COAL MINER/OWNER, CHARLIE T'S PIZZERIA): "We are seeing people come back and say they are getting jobs back. That's what Trump said he was going to do and by god he's doing it."

ONE THOUSAND OF THE 10 THOUSAND ENERGY JOBS LOST SINCE JANUARY 2015 RETURNED, NOT MUCH BUT ITS A START. COMPANIES LIKE PEABODY, ARCH COAL, AND CONTURA, THE FORMER A-N-R, HAVE EMERGED FROM BANKRUPTCY, NATURAL GAS PRICES ARE RISING SHARPLY SINCE A LOW EARLY LAST YEAR.

THAT OPENS OPPORTUNITY IN COAL. FROM JUST 59 MILLION TONS IN THE 2ND QUARTER OF 2016, PRODUCTION HAS BEEN OVER 80 MILLION EACH QUARTER SINCE. THAT IS STILL NOWHERE NEAR PEAKS FROM A FEW YEARS AGO, BUT ENOUGH THAT OFFICIALS TELL US THE INDUSTRY IS STABILIZING.

TO SEE HOW CURRENT OPERATIONS STAND I WENT TO CLOUD PEAK ENERGY'S CORDERO ROJO MINE, THE 4TH LARGEST MINE IN THE UNITED STATES.

THE COAL-RICH POWDER RIVER BASIN IS BY FAR THE LARGEST COAL-PRODUCING REGION IN THE COUNTRY. THE SHALLOWNESS OF ITS COAL MAKES EXTRACTION CHEAPER AND MORE EFFICIENT.

(RICK CURTSINGER, CLOUD PEAK ENERGY): "The geology that's here allows for very efficient, low cost production. So PRB coal is able to compete with natural gas and other fuels at much lower costs than other coal basins around the country."

WE ARE ALSO SEEING A PUSH TO MEET NEW ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS. WHILE REPEALING REGULATIONS REMAIN A GOAL, THEY HOPE COAL WON'T BE IGNORED NOW.

(TRAVIS DETI, MINING ASSOCIATION): "Just because of the change in administration, you're not going to wave a magic wand and all of a sudden the climate change issue and carbon dioxide issue is going away. And we want to have a seat at that table."

THEN THERE IS THE INTEGRATED TEST CENTER IN COAL CAPITAL GILLETTE. COMMISSIONED BY GOVERNOR MATT MEAD AND THE LEGISLATURE, ITS GOAL IS TO FIND A WAY TO BETTER CAPTURE CARBON EMISSIONS, ALSO RECYCLE THEM INTO BUILDING MATERIALS AND OTHER CHEMICALS AND PLASTICS.

(STEVE HARSHMAN, WYOMING HOUSE SPEAKER): That's the thing about America. We've always solved problems with engineering and science. There's really a lot of good activity and really a lot of hope that we can solve the CO2 problem.