Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Despite Trump's Remark, There Is No War on Coal and It's Definitely Not Clean

Popular
Despite Trump's Remark, There Is No War on Coal and It's Definitely Not Clean

President Donald Trump's line, "We have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal" drew some of the biggest claps and cheers from Republican lawmakers at last night's State of the Union address.

Energy Sec. Rick Perry, who wants to bail out uncompetitive coal plants, quickly bopped up with a standing ovation. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who wants to open federal lands to mining, stood up shortly after.


You can watch their enthusiastic reaction here:

But there are a few problems with their boss' remark. First, there is no war on coal. Market forces, the country's glut of cheap natural gas, increased energy efficiency and renewable energy have all contributed to the coal industry's decline.

While the Trump administration has aggressively pushed for fossil fuels and has rolled back a number of regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, to prop up domestic energy, the policies haven't revived the coal sector. Vox noted that "mining jobs have crashed from a high of 800,000 workers in the 1920s to about 76,000 today." Additionally, U.S. coal consumption fell by 2.4 percent in 2017—the lowest level in nearly four decades.

Secondly, there's no such thing as clean coal. Coal is one of the world's most polluting fossil fuels and its combustion is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change.

The Associated Press fact-checked Trump's statement, and wrote:

"According to the Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants—sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and dangerous soot particles—from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation. Power plants are the No. 1 source of those pollutants.'

Vox pointed out that Trump may simply be confusing "clean coal" with mines that wash or pretreat coal. Or perhaps the president is referring to carbon capture and storage, which collects and stores carbon from coal-powered plants' emissions.

But the process is not only costly and more expensive than installing natural gas, wind or solar systems—many governments are also abandoning the trials that are needed to make it work. Meanwhile, Energy Sec. Perry's most recent budget proposal slashed the clean-coal budget from more than $200 million to only $35 million.

Trump's head-scratching comment was succinctly summarized by the New York Times' columnist Nicolas Kristof:

"Trump says he has ended 'the war on clean coal.' I'd make three points: 1. Coal employment is in long-term secular decline. 2. Newspaper industry has lost more jobs in recent years than coal has. 3. Solar power employs 5 times as many people as coal—and it's the future."

This fall brings three new environmental movies. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet | Official Trailer

This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice walk out and rally at the company's headquarters to demand that leaders take action on climate change in Seattle, Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. JASON REDMOND / AFP via Getty Images

The world's largest online retailer is making it slightly easier for customer to make eco-conscious choices.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Moms Clean Air Force members attend a press conference hosted by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announcing legislation to ban chlorpyrifos on July 25, 2017. Moms Clean Air Force

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a risk assessment for toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos Tuesday that downplayed its effects on children's brains and may be the first indication of how the administration's "secret science" policy could impact public health.

Read More Show Less
Evacuees wait to board a bus as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Maria Trimarchi and Sarah Gleim

If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.

Read More Show Less
In 'My Octopus Teacher,' Craig Foster becomes fascinated with an octopus and visits her for hundreds of days in a row. Netflix

In his latest documentary, My Octopus Teacher, free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster tells a unique story about his friendship and bond with an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been labeled "the love story that we need right now" by The Cut.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch