An August 8, 2012, Roanoke Times op-ed piece by Buzz Belleville, a faculty member at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., discusses a “confluence of events over the past few years” that has reduced the U.S. coal consumption (from about 50 percent of the fuel used for U.S. electrical generation to 36 percent in 2012). Mr. Belleville asserts that the main reason for a drop in U.S. consumption is competition from new, large supplies of currently inexpensive natural gas, combined with “maturation of renewable energy sources and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Issues over air quality, mine safety, and disposal of coal-combustion by-products are also involved. In the Appalachian region, a current focus is three recent court decisions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over the U.S. EPA’s use of the Clean Water Act to limit stream valley fills resulting from mountaintop mining. Mr. Belleville’s piece discusses those cases and their legal and regulatory background. See The future of coal, Roanoke Times, 8/8/12.
For more on one of the three court cases discussed by Mr. Belleville, please see the Water Central News Grouper item, Federal District Court Rules July 31, 2012, that U.S. EPA Exceeded Authority in July 2011 Guidance on Regulation of Water-quality Impacts of Appalachian Mountaintop Coal Mining, posted 8/3/12.