House Republicans seek to limit EPA climate rules

Coking coal prices might jump 33 percent –  Coal companies like Consol Energy Inc. that produce coking coal for steelmaking will benefit from the Australia floods that disrupted its huge output and might boost those coal prices by as much as 33 percent, industry experts said Thursday. Prices may increase to between $270 and $300 a ton, analysts said. Steel mills in Asia agreed to pay $225 a ton for the three months starting Jan. 1, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said. Mines in the flooded region of Queensland account for most of the premium hard coking coal supply globally, said Alex Tonks, a commodity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Sydney. About 37 percent of the world’s traded coking coal is affected, according to analysts from Macquarie. "A lot of operations have been impacted,"
Will Flooded Met Coal Impact US Mills? – “Flooding in Queensland, Australia has left half of the world seaborne metallurgical coal under water. Our colleagues estimate it take 2-6 wks to dewater a flooded open pit once the rain stops. At this time it is difficult to know how impactful the floods may be, but already spot met prices are seen rising to ~$300/t from ~$225.  More than half the U.S. production of steel is mini-mill based, and therefore uses scrap and not met coal and iron ore. We spoke to U.S. Steel and AK Steel, the two exposed names under our coverage, and they reiterated they have annual contracts for coal (unlike global peers) and would expect no disruption to entirely U.S. based coal supply. Coal prices will rise into 2011, but AK said it locked in a 2011 annual price before the floods, and US Steel said most of its pricing had been finalized.U.S. benchmark HRC prices have already risen $220/short ton to $740 after a rapid succession of price hikes driven largely by scrap prices. A $100/t coal price hike equates to about a $50/t increase in the cost of steel, so would already be more than covered by U.S. mill price hikes.
Australia flood pushes up Chinese coal price (Xinhua) 篓C Affected by the flood in Aust ralia, the world’s major coal exporter, international coal price is ri sing and it may even go higher than the Chinese price in a short term. China’s power producers thus have lost a bargaining chip in the recent negotiations with coal suppliers. A coal company insider revealed that China’s coal price i n key contracts for 2011 rises 30-50 yuan/tonne. China’s coal import has been increasing since 2010, and i t is estimated at 160 million tones for 2010, of which three quarters were power coal and anthracite and a quarter was coking coal.

How Will G.O.P.’s House Budget Affect Clean Tech? – Taking House Republicans at face value on their pledge to cut 20% of all non-defense discretionary spending, we took a quick look at what cuts might mean for America’s ability to compete in the $2 trillion clean energy market. While there are certainly areas of the nation’s energy budget that should get cut or eliminated, to achieve $100 billion in savings every program — even those that help fuel the economic growth the new majority says it wants — is going to suffer. Thanks to smart government investments, many clean energy businesses are getting off the ground or expanding in the U.S. This means new jobs created by Dow at a battery plant in Michigan, by Nissan for electric vehicles in Tennessee or Southern Company to build a new nuclear reactor in Georgia. So what might a 20% chop look like?

House Republicans seek to limit EPA climate rules – The 112th Congress has just begun, and so have the attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Three Republican House members — Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.) and Ted Poe (Tex.) have each introduced separate bills aimed at blocking EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The three measures hamstring the agency’s authority in different ways: Blackburn’s would “amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act,” even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that they are; Capito’s would delay EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and methane for two years; and Poe’s would prohibit any agency funding “to be used to implement or enforce a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.”

Boxer takes shot at GOP agenda – Sen. Barbara Boxer took a first swing Thursday at her new House counterpart on environmental issues, calling out Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton over his plans to stymie the Obama administration’s global warming and air pollution rules. The Environment and Public Works Committee chairwoman joined the chorus of Senate Democrats who have quickly criticized the House GOP majority as it targets rules covering everything from health care to the environment. “I believe what Chairman Upton has indicated he wants to do, which is essentially stop all progress on this front, is against the law,” Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters.

Should we get rid of all energy subsidies? – Should the U.S. get rid of energy subsidies altogether? In a new piece for Washington Monthly, Jeffrey Leonard argues just that: “Get the Energy Sector off the Dole.” Amory Lovins argued something similar in The Weekly Standard in past October. Way back in 2002, Ed Crane (head of the libertarian Cato Institute) and Carl Pope (then head of the Sierra Club) made the same argument in a Washington Post op-ed. So, is it a good idea? Today I want look to at the question from a policy angle. Tomorrow I’ll get into the politics. Can government get out of the energy game?

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