Axing the Clean Power Plan Won’t Bring Coal Back

This week the Trump/Pruitt duo announced their decision to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, to applause from the fossil fuel industry — and dismay from anyone concerned about the planet’s future.

Last March, Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to roll back almost all of President Obama’s climate change actions, including the Clean Power Plan.

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said before the formal signing ceremony.

He added that the order will “eliminate federal overreach” and “start a new era of production and job creation.” 

Trump’s unflinching determination to wipe out President Obama’s legacy on climate change means that his administration is already working to kill rules preventing coal mining waste from being dumped into streams, to lift a moratorium on new mine leases in the West and to loosen regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired plants.

Overturning the Clean Power Plan is simply the next step. By 2030 the Plan aimed to cut carbon emissions from power plants by a third, but it has never taken effect, since over 20 states brought lawsuits to stop it.

In any case, this repeal will have little to no effect on the declining coal industry. 

Trump’s promise to voters in West Virginia last year that “We’re going to put the miners back to work,” is a lie.

The use of coal to generate power has been on the decline for a while. In 2003, coal-fired plants produced 50 percent of the total U.S. power generation. By 2016, that number dropped to 30 percent, and it continues to fall.

Coal mines around the country are closing, and more than one-third of the nation’s coal-fired electricity is already slated to go offline.

As The New York Times reported, “In 2017 and 2018, at least 46 coal-fired units will close at 25 electricity plants in 16 states, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.”

The Institute added that “Promises to create more coal jobs will not be kept — indeed the industry will continue to cut payrolls.”

According to a study by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, around 60,000 coal industry jobs have been lost in the U.S. since 2011, while three of the four most important mining companies have declared bankruptcy.

For Trump to make hollow promises about the resurgence of coal amounts to fake news, and it’s demonstrably cruel to those naive voters who choose to believe him.

Although Obama’s regulations have to kill coal production, the industry’s real problem is cheaper and abundant natural gas.

And if Trump makes good on his plan to ease restrictions on fracking on federal lands, natural gas production could increase even more. 

As Jeremy Richardson, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, told NPR: “Basically, more than one-third of the nation’s coal-fired electricity is either already slated to go offline or it’s more expensive to operate than existing natural gas.”

At the same time, both wind and solar power have become more efficient, another factor eroding the coal market’s share in U.S. power production.

Coal plants are killers. They are the top source of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the primary cause of global warming. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. coal plants released a total of 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2011. 

In addition, burning coal causes acid rain, smog and toxic air pollution, which can lead to serious respiratory health issues. 

You would think that in the face of this evidence, any government official would want to cut back on coal-fired power plant emissions to protect both U.S. citizens and the future of the planet.

But this is not the case with President Trump, who has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t care about public health concerns. 

That’s why he appears just fine with abandoning residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico after in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Thankfully, in the case of highly toxic coal, Trump is on the wrong side of history, as the decline of the coal industry is matched by the rise of clean energy.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W10 months ago

Thank you

Sarah H
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Give it time. Those jobs will come back, or they won't, it will work out on it's own. That's as it should be. Government should get out of the way of enterprise! We need to stop subsidizing ALL businesses, just let them flourish or fail.

Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a year ago

Petition signed. The non-return of coal would be a good thing! Coal is a killer!

Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Just get rid of Trump. Haul that psycho and his Pruitt and Zinke sidekicks in front of some Nuremburg trials and hang them before they destroy the planet.

Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a year ago

Not bringing coal back can only be a good thing! Thanks for posting.

Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a year ago

Coal is nothing but a killer, as evidence by the existence of Black Lung Disease. Trump puts money above everything and everyone else, including the health of workers. It's also a given that he is still determined to roll back all of President Obama's stellar accomplishments because he is blatantly jealous of him, since he represents everything that is good and positive, which Trump never will. Thanks for sharing.

Ben O
Ben Oabout a year ago

Bring coal back...? -When hell freezes over! Petition signed...

Winn A
Winn Adamsabout a year ago

Petition Signed

Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a year ago

Deplorable and despicable Impeach him now . Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a year ago

Has just happened to Australia too Dumb Bastards.. Thank you for caring and sharing