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"The War On Coal Is Over," Declares EPA Administrator Pruitt

But the war over coal regulation moves on to a new front

CoalConveyorCnljDreamstimeCnlj/DreamstimeThe Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will file a proposal later this week to repeal the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan (CPP), EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared in a speech in the coalfields of Kentucky today.

The draft repeal proposal argues that the Obama administration exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Acts when it imposed rules on power generators that went beyond making improvements in their own plant operations.

Specifically, the CPP would likely require power generators to create or subsidize significant amounts of generation from power sources - solar and wind - outside of their customarily regulated activites.

The CPP aimed to mitigate the problem of man-made global warming by cutting carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 from the electric power sector by 32 percent below their 2005 levels.

"We love our coal miners," President Trump said in March when he signed an executive order on energy independence. He added, "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal."

However onerous the CPP would have been (its provisions had not yet been implemented due to a Supreme Court injunction), the real enemy of coal is cheap fracked natural gas. No matter how much the president loves miners, most of those jobs are gone forever. The number of coal miners fell from 180,000 in 1985 to 53,000 in 2016. Besides the switch to natural gas, this decline in coal mining employment is due mostly to improvements in technology that enable fewer miners to extract more coal.

It is still worth noting that the war on coal abroad in places like Germany is faltering and as a result there has been an upturn this year in U.S. coal exports. As exports rose, the number of coal mining jobs increased by 3,500.

The U.S. power sector is likely to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 32 percent even without the CPP, given the price trends for natural gas and renewable energy technologies, as I reported last week. A new analysis from the Rhodium Group consultancy bolsters those earlier conclusions and reports, "Our current projections put power sector CO2 emissions 27% to 35% below 2005 levels."

In any case, the effort to roll back the CPP will be caught up in legal challenges. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman already released a statement today declaring, "I am proud to lead the coalition of states and localities defending the Clean Power Plan in federal court."

In other words, the war over coal regulation is changing venues.

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  • ||

    There was no war on coal. Power utilities moved away from coal because natural gas became cheaper, because of fracking.

    The reason the Germans are buying more coal is because they shut down their nuclear plants.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Also, the largely automated strip coal mines in the Southwest (e.g. Colorado) are five times as productive as the subsurface mines in places like WV and Kentucky, so even if coal use comes back, coal mining jobs aren't.

  • SIV||

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  • Chipper Morning, Mean Girl||

    You know who else declared a war on certain dark things to be prematutely over?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The Council of Elrond?

  • Fk_Censorship||

    George W. Bush?

  • JWatts||

    "There was no war on coal. Power utilities moved away from coal because natural gas became cheaper, because of fracking."

    That's show either a denial of recent history or shear ignorance

    ""If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them," Obama said, responding to a question about his cap-and-trade plan. He later added, "Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.""

    Of course the Obama administration failed to actually get that aggressive a plan through. But just because Obama failed to win the war on coal doesn't mean he didn't try to drive the coal industry out of business.

  • ||

    You know who else tried to drive the coal industry out of business?

  • Lester224||

    Regardless of what Obama wanted to do, electric utilities buy natural gas instead of coal because it is cheaper now because of the abundance of natural gas due to fracking. You can't undo capitalism because you like coal miners.

    https://tinyurl.com/y7724agy

  • ||

    A plan that never got implemented is not a war.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    No shit, Sherlock.

  • Tony||

    There is a bigger constituency to pander to in the dildo industry. This is all because Trump likes the choo-choos, isn't it?

  • damikesc||

    There is a bigger constituency to pander to in the dildo industry. This is all because Trump likes the choo-choos, isn't it?

    A Progressive mocking somebody for liking trains?

    The self-delusion is strong.

  • Tony||

    You can just say delusion.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I just hope they have the decency to step away from it and leave it to its own devices. Surely the government can admit that things should be left to their own devices.

  • Libertarian||

    Welcome to the Hotel California.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    the real enemy of coal is cheap fracked natural gas

    Trump has a solution for that: he's going to force electricity traders to buy electricity from coal plants at above market rates
    Trump Administration Unveils Plan To Help Coal, Nuclear Sectors

  • Ron Bailey||

    SD: Yes, I know.

  • Tony||

    As the old Republican party saying goes, we don't pick winners and losers in the economy--we do whatever some insane billionaire tells us to do.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Hell, Trump's whole trade agenda is about him "picking winners and losers". The conservatives that used that phrase regarding Obama should just roll over and die in shame.

  • Tony||

    The administration is using that phrase right now to defend their absolute fetish for coal. Actually picking a loser and trying to make it a winner. At least solar panels don't give you black lung, christ these people.

  • Ariki||

    No, they just give you black-outs.
    Much better.

  • Tony||

    It's sick as fuck that the culture wars extend to inanimate pieces of technology.

  • Eric Bana||

    Fick as suck.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Leave George Soros and Warren Buffet out of this.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    the real enemy of coal is cheap fracked natural gas.

    You can't tell the Orange Fucking Moron or his fans that.

  • ||

    Don't give them any ideas.

  • JimmyZ||

    Well hell let's bring back buggy whip manufacturing and bloodletting by barbers, since we're talking about things that'll never happen.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Good riddance coal - they don't want you even in Texas:

    With natural gas futures flat as far as the eye can see, and more wind turbines being built, the fastest route to boosting power prices in Texas is closing old plants, mainly coal-fired ones. Vistra is expected to shut down more 1970s-vintage plants, with Martin Lake and Big Brown -- both also in East Texas -- likely candidates. This would help to clear the state's glut of capacity.In a recent report, Bloomberg New Energy Finance identified about 4,500 megawatts of coal-fired plants at risk of closure in Texas. If they all shut down, then by the early 2020s, the state's "reserve margin" -- the buffer of spare capacity needed to reduce the risk of blackouts -- could slip below the threshold regarded as safe, or 13.75 percent of peak demand:

    https://goo.gl/ASBU6D

    And fuck you Trump.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    You're too fucking stupid to understand that link......aren't you, lololololol.

  • Hank Phillips||

    German National Socialism was what nuclear weapons were developed to defeat. You can't expect today's Germany--dedicated to Environmental instead of racial eugenics--to embrace the technology that made socialist aggression unworkable.

  • LarryA||

    I just wish Congress would give us back real incandescent light bulbs.

  • Finrod||

    And real toilets instead of these low-flow pieces of shit that are supposed to use only 40 percent of the water working toilets except that you have to flush them 2, 3, 4 times thus using 80, 120, 160 percent.

  • damikesc||

    In any case, the effort to roll back the CPP will be caught up in legal challenges. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman already released a statement today declaring, "I am proud to lead the coalition of states and localities defending the Clean Power Plan in federal court."

    I would ask what grounds can a STATE demand a FEDERAL policy.

    New York wants to ban coal in NY? Fine. Doesn't mean my state of SC has to listen.

    Fuck that Ray Cohn wannabe.

  • colorblindkid||

    I know it's not very libertarian to want subsidies at all, but if we really need them, put them all into nuclear. It is the only feasible solution to large-scale reliable CO2-free energy, and loosen up EPA restrictions to let more uranium be mined in America. Solar and wind simply can never provide the reliable massive amounts of energy to sustain a growing economy, not to mention that their lifespans are pretty short and have to be thrown out or recycled after 15-25 years. I'm pretty sure greenies think they are made from fairy dust and dreams, not from toxic strip mining operations in China that poison the land for eternity.

    Nuclear is the most environmentally friendly way to produce energy, other than geothermal, but all of our prime geothermal energy locations are basically pristine wilderness. Not everybody's lucky to live on an island of 300,000 people that is essentially one giant natural geothermal plant, like Iceland. Nuclear is and always has been the only feasible and implementable option for CO2-free electricity. Environmentalists who oppose nuclear energy are the dumbest most irritating fucking people on the planet. They piss me off more and are more anti-science than than full-blown creationists, who have almost no practical negative effects on the world. They're just easy to make fun of.

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