Thursday, October 17, 2019

America’s Coal Country is Heading for Another Wave of Layoffs

The Clearest Sign yet that America’s Coal County is headed for Widespread Job Cuts, the Amount of Coal being Produced per U.S. Miner is at the Lowest Level in Eight years.

Productivity has slid 11% this year alone. The last time it was this Low was in 2011, when Coal Companies ended up Cutting almost Half their Workers in a Downturn that Lasted more than Four years.

It Underscores the Intense Pressure facing U.S. Coal Producers. For years, they relied on Exports and Metallurgical Coal used for Steel making to Offset shriveling Demand from U.S. Utilities. Now even those Markets are Suffering as the Global Economy Slows, Liquefied Natural Gas becomes Cheap and Plentiful in Asia and President Trump’s Trade War churns away. The bottom line is U.S. Production is expected to Slide 10% this year, and Jobs are at Risk.

“It’s highly likely there will be more layoffs,” said Phil Smith, a Spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America Union. “I don’t think there’s any question.”

The looming Downturn comes as Trump, who Vowed to Rescue the Coal Industry by easing Environmental Regulations, begins his Re-Election Campaign. Winning a Second Term will hinge in part on Mining Strongholds he carried in 2016, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania. “The president is committed to all Americans, including our great hardworking coal miners," White House Spokesman Judd Deere said in an Email.

Cutbacks are already Underway:

- On Monday, Peabody Energy Corp. said it Plans to Close an Illinois Mine and Lay Off about 225 Workers.

- Blackhawk Mining LLC idled Four West Virginia Mines last week and Fired about 340 people.

- In September, Murray Energy Corp. Shut Mines in West Virginia.

“Most coal-mining companies will have to reassess production,” said Mike Dudas, an Analyst with Vertical Research Partners.

The Number of U.S. Coal Jobs bottomed out at about 48,800 in 2016 as Arch Coal Inc., Peabody, and other Big Miners worked their way through Bankruptcy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then, as Exports Picked Up and Trump began his Push to Roll Back Environmental Regulations, Hiring followed suit. The Industry added about 4,500 Jobs through last month.

Now the Market has turned. Lower Production means U.S. Coal Workers will each Produce an Average of about 12,700 Tons this year, based on an Analysis of Production Estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Employment Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the Second-Lowest Production Rate in Two decades.

“People are going to have to get laid off,” said Andrew Cosgrove, a Mining Analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “They’re going to have to close mines.”

The Moves reflect the confluence of woes pummeling the Industry. Electricity Producers are shunning the Fuel in favor of: Cheaper Natural Gas, Solar, and Wind. Global Prices for Coal Shipped to Power Plants have Plunged by more than One-Third in the past year in both Europe and Asia. Met Coal Prices fell last month to the Lowest since January 2017, and there’s little Sign of a Recovery.

“There are few positive catalysts that will lift met coal prices over the next few months,” Lucas Pipes, an Analyst with B. Riley FBR, said in a Research Note Thursday.

Weak Demand in South America and Europe, coupled with Port Restrictions in China, led to an Oversupply of Steelmaking Coal, and Pipes Reduced his Earnings Estimates on Several U.S. Suppliers including Peabody and Arch.

“People are going to start to hunker down,” said Dudas of Vertical Research. “They won’t ship product into a market that doesn’t need it.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, the Founder and Majority Stakeholder of Bloomberg LP, the Parent Company of Bloomberg News, has Committed $500 Million to Launch Beyond Carbon, a Campaign aimed at Closing the Remaining Coal-Powered Plants in the U.S. by 2030 and Slowing the Construction of New Gas Plants.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

CA Dem and Lib Parties Will Allow Independents to Vote in 2020 Presidential Primaries

Thanks to Richard winger of Ballot Access news for this post.

The California Democratic Party, and the California Libertarian Party, have told the Secretary of State that they will Allow Independents to Vote in their 2020 Presidential Primary.

The American Independent Party had already made the same Decision.

The Deadline for California Parties to make this Decision is Friday, October 18th.

It appears that the Republican, Green, and Peace & Freedom Parties will Not invite Independents to Vote in their Presidential Primary.

The 2020 Party Decisions mirror their 2016 Decisions.

As of Feb. 10, 2019, there was 5,645,665 Independent Voters, representing 28.3% of the State's Registered Voters.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Greta’s Green Revolution Moves to Europe’s Ballot Boxes

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish Teenage Environmentalist, seems to have done more than just inspire Students to take to the Streets: Her Fridays for Future Revolution is increasingly moving to the European Ballot Box.

From the European Union (EU) Parliamentary Elections in May to the Coming Swiss National Elections on Sunday, Green Parties are emerging as unlikely Political Winners, gaining dramatically, often at the cost of Far-Right Parties that have in recent years been on the Rise.

Ireland sent its First Green Representatives to the European Parliament this year while other Countries saw Advances of up to 30% in Vote Shares for Green Candidates.

In September, Austria’s Greens gained more than a 10% Increase in Vote Support, giving them 26 Seats in Parliament where they had None earlier. They’re now the Third Strongest Party and a Contender for Coalition Talks with Winner Sebastian Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). The Right Wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) Dropped 20 Seats in the Elections. It’s a Countermovement to the Populists and the Nationalists.

On Oct. 20th, the Two Green Parties in Switzerland are set to see the Biggest Gains in a National Election. The Green Party and the Center-Left Green Liberal Party are Together up 5% in the latest Polls. That doesn’t seem like much, but in the Alpine Country where Sentiment moves at a Glacial Pace, it’s a Lot. The Far-Right Swiss People’s Party, which reached a Historic High of 40% of the Votes in the Previous Election, is now Polling at 25%.

The Historically Conservative German State of Baden-Württemberg is now Ruled by Green Politician Winfred Kretschmann, who Oversees a Coalition with the Center-Conservative Party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Experts say that in giving Greens a Push in Central Europe, Voters are venting their Frustration with Centrist Parties that have done Little for the Environment and Simultaneously sending a Counter-Message to Nationalists and Populists who have Dominated the Last Decade.

This Sudden Rise in Support for Greens coincides with Protests and Civil Disobedience Movements across the World. From Australia to Amsterdam, Berlin to Buenos Aires, that attempt to Compel Governments around the World to Concretely Act to Save the Planet. Yet while Protests raise Awareness and Force Debate, the Recent Electoral Results suggest Voters are also using their Choices at the Ballot Box this year to Draw the Attention of Politicians.

Over in Switzerland, Voters have Traditionally and fairly Consistently Voted Right of Center. For Decades Far-Right Swiss People’s Party (SPP) Captured about One-Third of the Ballots before their Best-Ever Performance, the Last Elections. But the Greens might now be on the Verge of Stopping that Juggernaut. The SPP are still the Strongest Party in Switzerland, but the Trend is now Downward.

This Trend mirrors a Growing Weariness of the Rancorous Politics dominated by Fear and Anger that has Grown across Europe this Decade, say Experts. Instead, at least in Switzerland, Austria, and a few other Countries, Voters appear Ready to Move away from Inward-Looking Nationalism to an Acceptance that Governments must Work together to Solve the Earth’s most Pressing Problems.

At the same time, it’s an Acknowledgment that the Market Economy, Supported by Centrist Parties, may Not be able to Handle the Climate Crisis either.

“The avant-garde is needed to think ahead, but we also need those who take on the challenges — that’s what realpolitik means,” Austria’s Green Party Chief Werner Kogler said at a Press Conference Five days after his Party’s Historic Gains in September.

Only time will tell whether Centrist Governments take heed of Voters’ Cry for Change. For now, Green is the color of Success.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

MA Appropriations Bill Sets Up Early Voting in 2020 Presidential Primary

The Massachusetts House on Tuesday, October 15th, moved quickly on an Appropriations Bill (H 4127), that Funds and Establishes Early Voting in the Commonwealth's Presidential Primary next year.

2020 would be the First Time that Massachusetts Presidential Primary Voters would have access to Early Voting.

The Bill calls for a Five day period to be set aside for Early Voting during the Work week Prior to the Super Tuesday Presidential Primary in the Bay State.

It would run from Monday, February 24th through Friday, February 28th, the Day before the South Carolina Democratic Primary.

Sites have to be Set Up Two weeks in Advance of the Commencement of Early Voting and those Locations have to be made Public under the Provisions of the Bill at least Seven days in Advance of the Early Voting Window.

While this Adds to the Strategic Complexities of Super Tuesday and the Massachusetts Presidential Primary, the Early Voting Window stretches neither On, for as Long, or as Far, into February as is the case in other Super Tuesday Primary States.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Electionline Weekly October-17-2019

2019 Election Updates

Louisiana: Things did Not go as smoothly as folks would have hoped during Louisiana’s 2019 General Election. In St. George Parish, Ballot Confusion prompted calls to the Registrar’s Office. A Computer glitch led to Late Results in St. Tammany Parish. A Computer Problem held up the Inclusion of Absentee Ballots in Lafayette Parish. And Officials are set to Recount 1,500 Paper Ballots in a State Senate Race. Franklin Foil, whose Eight-Vote Lead over fellow Republican Steve Carter in a State Senate Race evaporated after an Apparent Double-Counting of Ballots was discovered Saturday night, formally asked for a Recount in the Race Tuesday in hopes of Breaking the current Tie and Avoiding a Historic Three-way Runoff.

Legislative Updates

California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has Vetoed SB212 that would have Allowed Counties and Cities Statewide to move to a Ranked-Choice Voting system. Newsom was a County Supervisor in San Francisco when Ranked-Choice Voting was Approved and he did Not Support that move. “Ranked choice is an experiment that has been tried in several charter cities in California,” Newsom said in his Veto Message Sunday. “Where it has been implemented, I am concerned that it has often led to voter confusion and that the promise that ranked-choice voting leads to greater democracy is not necessarily fulfilled.”

Maine: The Portland City Council will hold a Public Hearing Next Month on a Proposed Charter Amendment to Extend Ranked-Choice Voting to All City and School Board Elections. That Discussion could Lead to a Citywide Referendum in March.

Legal Updates

Kentucky: The Kentucky Democratic Party Sued the State Board of Elections, claiming it Unlawfully placed 175,000 Registered Voters on an “Inactive” List that might Infringe on their Right to Vote. “After weeks of conversations with the State Board of Elections staff that raised more questions than it provided answers, we determined that we had no choice but to file this lawsuit in order to protect Kentucky voters from facing unfair burdens at the polls,” Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Ben Self said in a Statement. A Judge has Temporarily Reinstated the Voters.

West Virginia: An October 28th Court Date has been set in the Ongoing Dispute over whether the Harpers Ferry Board of Canvassers should have Counted Provisional Ballots in an Election held earlier this year.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

WI Wants to Remove Voters from Rolls Because Believed They Moved

A Conservative Group is seeking to quickly Remove People from the Voting Rolls who Election Officials believe May have Moved. The question over how to treat as many as 234,000 Voters comes as Wisconsin emerges as one of the most heavily Contested States in next year's Presidential Election. The Wisconsin Election Commission last week sent Letters to Voters who it believes may have Moved. The Letters told the Recipients to Update their Voter Registrations with their New Addresses if they have Moved or to Notify the Commission if they have Not Moved.

If the voters do Not act, their Voter Registrations will be Suspended (Inactive) after April 2021, according to the Commission.

Three Wisconsin Residents represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a Complaint with the Commission Wednesday Demanding that the Commission Suspend the Registrations of Voters who do Not Respond to the Letters by Next month. This looks Illegal.

The National Voter Rights Act (NVRA) sets out very Specific Procedures a State must follow before it can Remove a Voter from the Vote Rolls. Either a Voter Notifies the Board in Writing of a Move, or the Voter Fails to Respond to a Notice seeking Confirmation that a Voter is still at a given Address and that Voter Fails to Vote in Two Consecutive Federal Elections. Then the State can Designate them as Inactive. If the Voter does not Vote in Two More Consecutive Federal Elections, they can then be Purged from the Voter Rolls. But the State must Allow them to Vote as a Regular Voter and they should be on the Voter Rolls until they are Purged.

If the Commission does Not change course, the Voters bringing the Complaint will likely Sue over the Issue, said One of their Attorneys, Anthony LoCoco. "It's important to have accurate voter rolls," LoCoco said. "Part of maintaining accurate voting rolls is making sure people are registered to vote at the proper place."

The State Generated the List of Voters who have possibly Moved with the Assistance of the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which helps 29 States keep their Voting Rolls Accurate. The Center gathers Information from Other sources, such as the U.S. Postal Service, to Detect when Someone has Moved.

The Complaint argues that State Law requires the Commission to Remove People from the Voter Rolls within 30 days if it does Not get Responses after Notifying them it has Reliable Information they have Moved. Again, this is Illegal.

The Commission's Executive Director, Meagan Wolfe, Disputed the Complaint's Claim that the Commission must Remove Voters from the Rolls within 30 days of Sending them a Letter based on Data from ERIC. "I think it's really important to note that the ERIC process, there are no statutes that govern that process as far as how that (voter) list maintenance happens," Wolfe said. "State law requires that the State of Wisconsin join ERIC, but it does not specify how this maintenance is conducted." In a Statement issued later in the day, Wolfe said the Commission would discuss the Issue at a Dec. 2nd Meeting. "The commission is confident that it is complying with Wisconsin law," she said in her Statement.

Commissioners have been reluctant to Suspend People from the Voter Rolls as quickly as those who filed the Complaint want because Thousands of Voters contended in 2017 they were Improperly Removed from the Rolls when similar Mailings were sent that year. The purpose of the Mailing is to make sure the State's Voter Rolls are as Up-to-Date as possible.

Part of this Problem, the Commission did try to Match the Voters on the ERIC List to Verify they did Not Vote in the Last Two Federal Elections before Sending the Notices.

In addition to Identifying People who have Moved, the Commission encourages People to Register to Vote. For instance, last year it sent Postcards to 384,000 People who were Eligible to Vote but had Not Registered.

In 2017, the Commission Contacted about 340,000 Voters who it believed might have Moved. It Removed many of them from the Voter Rolls because they did Not Respond. But Election Officials in the Months afterward determined Many of the People were Contacted because of Faulty Data.

In September 2018, the Commission told Local Election Clerks they could Reinstate Voter Registrations if they Believed People had been Wrongly Removed from the Rolls. That Cleared the way for Milwaukee to Restore the Registrations of about 21,000 Voters, nearly Half of the 44,000 Milwaukee Voters who had been taken Off the Rolls in 2017.

To Avoid similar Problems, the Commission in June Voted Unanimously to give People more than a Year to Respond to the Latest Mailings before they would have their Voter Registrations Suspended as Inactive.

The Commission ordinarily consists of Three Republicans and Three Democrats. It has One Republican Vacancy at the moment.

Voters who are Removed from the Voter Rolls can Re-Register Online, in a Clerk's Office, or at the Polls. Fights over Voting Rolls have been more Intense in other States, particularly those that do Not Allow Voters to Register on Election Day, as Wisconsin does.

Analiese Eicher, Executive Director of the Liberal One Wisconsin Now, accused the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty of trying to give Republicans an Advantage in Next year's Elections with a "Back-Door Voter Roll Purge."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Trump Drilling and Mining Alert

The Trump Administration wants to Open Areas of the Chaco Canyon, Colorado's Wild Lands, and the Grand Canyon, to Oil and Gas Development and Mining, which would Forever Damage these Beautiful Public Spaces and Risk the Water and Health of Indigenous and Local Communities.

Big Polluters could soon be Drilling for Uranium and Oil in some of our most Iconic Outdoor spaces, Threatening the Water of Indigenous Communities and Local Ecosystems.

For Millennia, Indigenous Communities, including the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, and Navajo Nation Communities, have Lived in and Around the Grand Canyon, and the Pueblo People. as well as their Ancestors, the Chacoan People, have relied on the Chaco Canyon Region for their Way of Life and Cultural Heritage.

Uranium Mining and Fossil Fuel Extraction around these National Parks would Tear into Land that is sacred to these Communities and Expose their Water supply to Toxic Pollution.

We must Support the Indigenous Communities Leading this Fight and Stop the Trump Administration from Selling Out the Grand Canyon and Chaco Canyon.

We have a Short Window to Act. The House will soon Vote on Three Bills:

- The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act (H.R. 1373)

- The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act (H.R. 2181)

- The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act (H.R. 823)

These Bills will Permanently Protect Areas around the Chaco Canyon, over 200,000 Acres of Colorado's Wild Public Lands, and The Grand Canyon, from Extractive Development.

This Vote is coming up quickly and we still don't know how Every Member of the House will Vote. To Pass this Bill without any Anti-Environment Riders, we must make sure House Representative knows just how Important this Fight is.

CLICK HERE to Contact your Member of Congress Now.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker