SNL: 'Ugly' Balance Sheets May Lead Coal Companies to 'Run Out of Time'

As coal markets have deteriorated across the board, BB&T Capital Markets analyst Mark Levin said the sector has bifurcated into the "haves" and "have-nots" when it comes to the ability to access capital.

Speaking at a recent industry conference, Levin noted that the phenomenon makes sense. Coal sector fundamentals have been falling apart for some time, and some of the major players made some risky bets, particularly on the metallurgical coal market. Now that metallurgical coal has prolonged a drift toward the market bottom, Levin said, those that took on major debt-financed acquisitions are looking at an "ugly picture" on their balance sheets.

E&E News: What Happens in a Coal Boomtown as China Heads Toward ‘Peak Coal’?

The streets of the northwestern Chinese city Yulin were once packed with Ferraris, BMWs and other luxury cars. Now, they are all gone.

Average housing prices here have dropped by a quarter in two years. Driving across the city’s downtown, you see vacant buildings and empty restaurants.

The changes in Yulin are a clear indication of China’s changing attitude toward coal. The country has relied on this resource for years to fuel its economy, making coal-rich Yulin one of the fastest-growing Chinese cities. But as China has started restructuring its economy and favoring cleaner energy sources, coal companies here have begun to feel the pain of falling demand.

Bloomberg: Evergrande Scraps $15 Billion Solar Push as Property Drops

Evergrande Group, the parent of China’s most-indebted publicly traded homebuilder, scrapped its 90-billion-yuan ($14.5 billion) plan to branch out into solar power, stymieing its ambitions to become a clean-energy developer.

After surveying the market, Evergrande, owned by billionaire Hui Ka Yan, concluded “the current timing is immature” to enter into solar power, the Guangzhou-based company said in an emailed statement in response to questions seeking an update on the plans. No funds have so far been spent on the solar business, the company added.

Los Angeles Times: How Should Journalists Treat Candidates Who Deny Climate Change?

In the not-so-distant past, it would not have been unusual or unseemly for journalists to identify political candidates making grossly unscientific assertions -- that aliens walk among us, say, or the moon is made of green cheese -- as crackpots.

Climate change, however, seems to have made cowards of the press. Although the scientific consensus is absolutely indisputable that the climate is warming due to human activity, the issue is typically reduced to a some-say-but-others-dispute debate dividing Republicans (usually deniers) from Democrats (usually accepters).

The issue's importance is underscored by the entry of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, into the presidential race on Monday. Cruz is a climate-change denier.

Washington Post: China Used More Cement in 3 Years Than the U.S. Did in the Entire 20th Century

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century.

The statistic seems incredible, but according to government and industry sources, it appears accurate. What’s more, once you dive into the figures, they have a surprisingly logical explanation that reveals some fascinating differences between the two countries, and some ominous realities about China.

Midwest Energy News: Kansas Utility Targets Solar Customers for Higher Rate

As utilities around the U.S. have sought to increase fixed charges in response to growing numbers of customers generating their own power, a Kansas utility is taking a more targeted approach.

In a case now pending before the Kansas Corporation Commission, customers of Topeka-based Westar Energy with their own solar, wind or other generation will pay a higher fixed charge than other ratepayers.