Let’s talk coal first. A new study from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity claims that half of US families have seen the percentage of their income devoted to energy costs nearly double in the past 10 years, primarily due to increases in gasoline prices. The Coalition claims that electricity remains the bargain power source in the US, in large part because of low coal prices.
But, due to the low price of natural gas right now and increased environmental regulations, demand for coal has been shrinking. The State Journal reports that hundreds of coal miners have been laid off throughout the Appalachians in the past few weeks, with the possibility of more cuts on the way.
Both thermal and metallurgical, or steel-making, coal mines are affected. In total, the Feb. 2 and 3 announcements mean 152 people are losing their jobs in West Virginia and 168 in Kentucky; another 182 in West Virginia and 52 in Kentucky were offered transfers.
Finally, in nuclear news, the San Onofre plant in California has had several problems this week. The trouble started with the discovery of a small radiation leak. Then, NRC officials found that tubes in a second unit had degraded significantly, despite having been installed recently. Finally, a worker at the plant fell into a reactor pool (which holds water for cooling), but luckily did not have any significant exposure.