Trump can’t stop coal’s death spiral, and his trade war may speed it up

Joe Romm Climate and Policy Reporter, ThinkProgress

The Trump administration’s own data reveal coal isn’t coming back.

Coal consumption in the United States is being blown away by wind, according to new analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). And Trump’s trade war may be starting to worsen coal’s downward spiral.

The EIA projected on Tuesday that coal production will hit a four-decade low in 2019 and drop again in 2020. At the same time, renewable energy generation will soar over the next two years, led by wind power.

In fact, the EIA projects that “annual generation from wind will surpass hydropower generation for the first time in 2019.” In 2020, wind will expand its role as the leading source of U.S. renewable power.

Despite telling West Virginians last August, “The coal industry is back,” President Donald Trump has presided over a faster rate of coal plant retirements in his first two years than President Barack Obama saw in his entire first term.

The administration has no answer to the economic reality that coal power plants have simply become increasingly unprofitable in the face of cheap fracked gas and the rapidly declining costs for wind, solar, battery storage, and energy efficiency.

The EIA projects that coal production will drop more 7% in 2019, and nearly 8% in 2020 — a result of more coal plants being shut down and renewable generation soaring.

On top of that, coal exports, which had briefly surged last year, have since dropped nearly 13% for the first four months of this year compared to last year. The EIA projects coal exports will ultimately drop 15% overall this year and keep dropping in 2020.

According to a Monday report by Argus Media, an independent provider of data and analysis on energy and other commodities, the trade war between the U.S. and China has been hurting coal exports. In response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, China has placed a 25% tax on U.S. coal imports.

The bottom line is that despite his claims to the contrary, the coal industry is continuing its long-term downward spiral under Trump — and his own administration projects this spiral will continue.

***

Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

More ...

There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work