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Mistakenly Marginalized

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its sweeping guidelines to cut carbon emissions on June 2 (See News, p. 4), few if any people outside the energy sector heard the message or even understood the implications. The announcement was overshadowed by a prisoner exchange and the scandal with the VA hospitals. The big story in the business world that day was the unveiling of Apple’s latest technology at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

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Constant and Continuous Improvement

Our hearts and prayers are with the widows and their families in Manisa. As this edition was going to press, the world watched with heavy hearts as surviving miners carried injured and dead miners to the surface in Turkey. More than 280 miners had perished after a fire broke out at the Soma mine, and 150 or so more were unaccounted for. The death toll will surely climb by the time this magazine hits your desk. If we ever learn the true figure for the loss of life, it will be staggering.

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Blankenship Produces a UBB Documentary

Four years have passed since families and friends lost their loved ones in the Upper Big Branch (UBB) tragedy, and Coal Age would like to express its condolences. On April 5, 2010, 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the UBB mine in West Virginia. This year when people in the region were paying their respects to the fallen miners, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship released a 51-minute documentary on YouTube (www.ubbneveragain.com).

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Find the Political Will

This month, like last month and the month before, Coal Age is publishing several stories that report the frustration that coal executives are feeling as they endure the excessive overreach by federal regulators. During February, at the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s annual convention, North American Coal Corp. CEO Robert Benson spoke at the Coal and Energy Division luncheon (see News, p. 9). At a little less than 30 million tons per year, North American is the ninth largest coal producer in the U.S. Benson’s message to young engineers in the audience that day was to take control of the negative political narrative that dogs our business.

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Spills Overshadow EPA’s Dubious Science

Each year for the February edition, Coal Age collects and publishes data on American longwall installations (see U.S. Longwall Census, p. 26). Readers should note two interesting trends. The first is that, year-on-year, total U.S. longwall production grew by 1.2% to 185 million tons from 183 million tons. During a period where total U.S. coal production shrunk to its lowest levels in 20 years, these installations showed growth. It’s a small number, but it’s a positive number. The other significant change is that Murray Energy now operates the most longwall faces in the U.S. — a position that CONSOL Energy has held since Coal Age began tracking this information in the mid-1980s.

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