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President Trump can’t stop US coal plants from retiring

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Donald Trump in coal helmet thumbs up

More U.S. coal-fired power plants were shut in President Donald Trump’s first two years than were retired in the whole of Barack Obama’s first term, despite the Republican’s efforts to prop up the industry to keep a campaign promise to coal-mining states.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a “roundtable discussion on border security and safe communities” with state, local, and community leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In total, more than 23,400 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired generation were shut in 2017-2018 versus 14,900 MW in 2009-2012, according to data from Reuters and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Trump has tried to roll back rules on climate change and the environment adopted during the Obama administration to fulfill pledges to voters in states like West Virginia and Wyoming.

But the second highest year for coal shutdowns was in Trump’s second year, 2018, at around 14,500 megawatts, following a peak at about 17,700 megawatts in 2015 under Obama.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

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The number of U.S. coal plants has continued to decline every year since coal capacity peaked at just over 317,400 MW in 2011, and is expected to keep falling as consumers demand power from cleaner and less expensive sources of energy.

Cheap natural gas and the rising use of renewable power like solar and wind have kept electric prices relatively low for years, making it uneconomic for generators to keep investing in older coal and nuclear plants.

Generators said they plan to shut around 8,422 MW of coal-fired power and 1,500 MW of nuclear in 2019, while adding 10,900 MW of wind, 8,200 MW of solar and 7,500 MW of gas, according to Reuters and EIA data.

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The predictions come from estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters and U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Since taking office in January 2017, the Trump administration has announced its intention to leave the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and is relaxing Obama-era rules on emissions from power plants as it seeks to boost domestic production of oil, gas and coal.

U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, spiked in 2018 after falling for the previous three years as cold weather spurred gas demand for heating and the booming economy pushed planes and trucks to guzzle fuel, according to a study by Rhodium Group, an independent research group.

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After falling to 5,144 million tonnes in 2017, the lowest since 1992, the EIA projected U.S. energy-related carbon emissions will rise to 5,299 million tonnes in 2018.

“There will be a limit to what increasingly cheap renewable power and continuously cheap natural gas can deliver with respect to emissions reductions,” said John Larsen, a director at Rhodium Group who leads the firm’s power sector research, noting the rising use of gas to produce power as coal plants shut. Natural gas emits about half the carbon as coal.

The Trump administration has also tried to slow the retirement of coal and nuclear plants through a directive in 2017 from Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize the aging units because they make the electric grid more resilient.

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That plan was bashed by advocates for gas, renewable power and consumers and unanimously rejected by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), led by former Chairman Kevin McIntyre. The plan could resurface now that Trump has a chance to replace McIntyre, who died on Jan. 2.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino and Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
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Tongue-tied GOP strategist crashes and burns on-air while trying to deny Trump’s racism

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Republican strategist Amy Tarkanian crashed and burned on CNN on Saturday while attempting to deny President Donald Trump's racism.

"I do not believe that the president’s tweets were racist. I do believe they were not well thought out. He needs that extra, 'Are you sure?' button on Twitter," Tarkanian argued.

"I'm a black man, I'm a Republican and a black man," the Rev. Joe Watkins interjected. "My mother's an immigrant, I would be angry if someone said that to my mother."

"Oh, it’s very offensive. But he did not say, because you are this color, go back to where you came from," Tarkanian argued. "I’m not supporting that tweet. Was it racist? No. Was it stupid? Yes."

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CNN

Trump supporter blames Democrats for being targeted by the president: ‘Why is that racist?’

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CNN interviewed a supporter of President Donald Trump in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who refused to acknowledge the racism in the president's "Go Back" attacks on four women of color in Congress.

The network interviewed Kerri Krumenauer of Wiersgalla Plumbing & Heating Company about Trump's attacks.

"How is it racist?" she asked.

"If you don't like this country, get out," she demanded. "Leave!"

She then showed how misinformed she was about the incident.

"He didn't use any names -- they stood up," she falsely claimed. In fact, Trump did use names and the targets did not stand up as they were not at his North Carolina campaign rally.

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2020 Election

Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing

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Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.

"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.

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