WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania-based coal company has won a contract to supply coal to Ukraine’s state-owned power company in preparation for that country’s winter heating needs. Officials said the deal would bolster a key US ally often threatened by Russia.
The deal, potentially worth about $79 million, calls for Xcoal Energy and Resources to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal to the Ukraine to heat homes and businesses. The first shipment is expected to leave the Port of Baltimore next month at a cost of $113 per metric ton.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry said US coal ‘‘will be a secure and reliable energy source’’ for Ukraine, which he said has been ‘‘reliant on and beholden to Russia to keep the heat on. That changes now.’’
The United States ‘‘can offer Ukraine an alternative, and today we are pleased to announce that we will,’’ Perry said, calling such deals ‘‘crucial to the path forward to achieve energy dominance’’ for the United States.
President Trump has vowed to revive the struggling coal industry and has cited increases in US coal exports as evidence the strategy is working. The Energy Department said in July that coal exports have risen sharply in 2017 amid increased demand in Asia and Europe, but are still below capacity.
The deal comes amid increased tensions in US-Russia relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States will have to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia in response to new sanctions against Russia. Congress approved those because of Russian interference in the 2016 US election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the coal deal will allow Ukraine to diversify its energy sources ahead of the coming winter, noting that Russia has restricted some natural gas deliveries to Ukraine and other neighbors in a bid to ‘‘choke off opposition to its ambitions.’’
Perry was recently fooled by a pair of Russian pranksters impersonating the prime minister of Ukraine. Topics on the mid-July call included coal exports. Perry met with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, in June.
Vietnam vet awarded medal
WASHINGTON — An Army medic who ‘‘ran into danger’’ to save wounded soldiers during a Vietnam War battle despite his own serious wounds on Monday became the first Medal of Honor recipient under President Trump, 48 years after the selfless acts of bravery for which James McCloughan is now nationally recognized.
McCloughan mouthed ‘‘thank you’’ as Trump placed the distinctive blue ribbon holding the medal around the neck of the former Army private first class. As the president and commander in chief shook McCloughan’s hand, Trump said ‘‘very proud of you’’ and then pulled the former soldier into an embrace.
‘‘I know I speak for every person here when I say we are in awe of your bravery and your actions,’’ Trump said after describing McCloughan’s actions for an audience including numerous senior White House and administration officials.
Retired Marine General John Kelly, sworn in hours earlier to be the new White House chief of staff, attended.
McCloughan said in a brief statement on the White House driveway after the ceremony that it was ‘‘humbling’’ to receive the medal. Now 71 and retired, he pledged to do his best to represent the men he fought alongside ‘‘as the caretaker of this symbol of courage and action beyond the call of duty.’’