Monday, December 26, 2011

African Americans and Coal

Should Blacks Own Coal Mines In A Global Warming World?


Powder River Basin Coal Extraction
Blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure and resources in the United States.  And sadly, that includes coal from public lands.  AAEA acknowledges global warming as the most important environmental issue facing planet Earth today.  We also acknowledge that Blacks do not own any of the fossil fuels that power our nation AND contribute to global warming.  Traditional environmentalists care about global warming, but care not a bit about the lack of African American ownership in the energy sector.  Yet 50% of America's electricity is produced using coal.  Although we are deeply concerned about global warming, we are disturbed by the lack of Black ownership in the energy sector.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, 40 percent of the coal used in the 50% used to produce electricity comes from public lands.  Blacks hold none of those leases.  Note to environmentalists who will condemn us for promoting African American ownership of coal: Blacks should not own coal when America stops using it.  Moreover, Blacks shoud not own coal when environmentalists cut their electricity use by 50%, representing the percentage that coal provides in producing those electrons.  There is a major dilemma here and AAEA is the only environmental organization promoting African American ownership in the energy sector.

According to stats in a Washington Post article today:
Overall U.S. coal production has dipped slightly since 2008, and federal coal leases have fallen more sharply. Coal production totaled 1.17 billion short tons in 2008, according to the Energy Information Agency. It declined to 1.074 billion tons in 2009 and last year reached 1.084 billion. It is expected to be roughly 1.08 billion tons in 2011.

The number of tons the government leased each year over the past three years has averaged 272 million. The Bush administration, by contrast, leased an average of 515 million tons annually between 2002 and 2008. But federal royalties are rising, reaching $701 million in fiscal 2011.The center of gravity for coal production in the United States has shifted over the past few decades for both economic and environmental reasons, moving from central Appalachia to the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Central Appalachia now produces just 17 percent of the nation’s coal compared with 70 percent in the 1970s.
In 2009 the average sales price of coal at mines producing each of the four major ranks of coal:

Lignite: $17.26 per ton
Subbituminous: $13.35 per ton
Bituminous: $55.44 per ton
Anthracite: $57.10 per ton

Powder River Basin coal is classified as subbituminous.

Do the math.

If the federal government can reap $701 million in royalties from coal, why shouldn't Blacks also reap some of those financial beneifts.  With unemployment at about 17% in the Black community, coal mine equity could provide much needed jobs.  Blacks should also have ownership in the transport of coal and coal export terminals.  If you are driving along Interstate 95 in Baltimore, just look over at the port area and you will see mountains of coal.  This is a recent development and illustrates the importance that coal export is becoming to the coal mining industry.  There are plans to build new coal export facilities in Washington State.

AAEA will continue its aggressive campaign to mitigate global warming.  We also intend to aggressively promote African American ownership of the resources and infrastructure that power America and the rest of the world. (Wash Post, 12/25/2011, DOE-EIA, photo courtesy Wash Post)

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