The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Despite Trump's Remark, There Is No War on Coal and It's Definitely Not Clean
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.
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."
- Trump and Rick Perry's Coal Bailout Is Dead - The Atlantic ›
- Mine closing wipes out many of Trump's coal job gains - Jan. 10, 2018 ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ketura Persellin
Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn't mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.