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Westridge Mine lays off 102 workers

It was announced on Thursday through a release from UtahAmerican Energy that the Westridge Mine would be laying off 102 personnel immediately.

The company said the layoffs were the result of the "War on Coal" that the company says the Obama administration has been waging against it over the last few years.

The release reported that coal production for this past year has been reduced to 825 million tons and by 2014 204 power plants will be closed because of various government agencies actions. It says those continued actions will result in fewer markets and because of that "there can be no coal mines and no coal jobs."

However, according to the information from the Energy Information Administration, while more than 200 coal-fired power plants are expected to retire over the next four years, that (retirement) is attributed to the utility industry's shift to combined heat and power production from natural gas.

Natural gas is at nearly an all time low in price and many utilities are replacing aging plants with the fuel because of cost, ease of use and the fact that many gas generating plants can be built near the load they supply. Carbon county has huge supplies of methane bed natural gas that could be sent to markets when needed.

The EIA also reports that U.S. 2012 coal exports, supported by rising steam coal exports, are expected to break their previous record level of almost 113 million tons, set in 1981. Exports for the first half of 2012 reached almost 67 million tons, surpassing most annual export volumes dating back to 1949. U.S. coal exports averaged 56 million tons per year in the decade preceding 2011. If exports continue at their current pace, the United States could export 133 million tons this year.

There has also been a trend over the past few years for UtahAmerican to lay miners off around the holidays and then rehire them later.

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