Ponds of coal bed methane water cover in the Powder River Basin near Gillette, Wyoming, 2007. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The coal mining industry in the top coal-producing region of the U.S. is struggling despite President Trump's efforts to prop up the coal industry nationwide, according to AP.

Why it matters: Many coal producers in the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana are filing for bankruptcy or consolidating as U.S. coal production has slid 30% since peaking in 2008 and small rural communities across the nation face economic uncertainty.

Context: 3 of 9 coal producers in the Powder River Basin have filed for bankruptcy since March, while 2 others said they would merge.

  • Blackjewel, the owner of several mines across the country, in July dismissed most employees and shut down the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, two of the highest-producing mines in the country. Negotiations to reopen the mines have stagnated.
  • Coal has buoyed the communities in the region and Wyoming's and Montana's state budgets for decades, but power companies are phasing out coal-fired power plants and switching to cheaper natural gas furnaces and solar and wind generators amid global concern about climate change.

By the numbers: About half of U.S. electricity came from coal-fired plants a decade ago, but coal now comprises only 30%.

  • Yes, but: The Powder River Basin still has a lot of recoverable coal left, and carbon-capturing technology installed in coal-fired power plants could make coal a viable option.

The bottom line: Carbon-capturing tech is still in its infancy, and experts say retrofitting power plants with the technology will be expensive.

Go deeper: The past and potential of replacing coal-fired power, heating with gas

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m. EST: 32,062,182 — Total deaths: 979,701 — Total recoveries: 22,057,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m EST: 6,967,103 — Total deaths: 202,558 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  5. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  7. Science: During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.

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