Quantcast
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."

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Energy
Petrified Forest National Park. Andrew Kearns / National Park Service

Trump Opens Door to Dangerous Fracking in Northern Arizona

A new Trump administration plan proposes to auction off 4,200 acres of public land for oil and gas development in northern Arizona. The lands straddle the Little Colorado River, are within three miles of Petrified Forest National Park, and are near habitat for a federally threatened fish called the Little Colorado spinedace. Drilling and fracking would threaten to deplete and pollute groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Wild bumble bees provide natural pollination for blueberries in North America. John Flannery / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Beyond Honey Bees: Wild Bees Are Also Key Pollinators, and Some Species Are Disappearing

By Kelsey K. Graham

Declines in bee populations around the world have been widely reported over the past several decades. Much attention has focused on honey bees, which commercial beekeepers transport all over the U.S. to pollinate crops.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. NPS Photo / B. Plog

Trump Admin. Wants to Reinstate 'Cruel' Hunting Tactics in Alaska, Conservation Groups Say

The Trump administration has proposed new regulations to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska's national preserves.

Wildlife protection organizations condemned the move, as it would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot wolf pups and bear cubs, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou. Such hunting methods were banned on federal lands in 2015 that are otherwise permitted by the state.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An Asian elephant eating tree bark. Yathin S Krishnappa / CC BY-SA 3.0

5 Conservation Milestones to Celebrate on This International Day for Biological Diversity

Scientists are increasingly realizing the importance of biodiversity for sustaining life on earth. The most comprehensive biodiversity study in a decade, published in March by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), warned that the ongoing loss of species and habitats was as great a threat to our and our planet's wellbeing as climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Deep-sea corals may not be flashy, but they deserve a second look. Oceana

Ignoring Deep-Sea Corals Is Risky for the Oceans, and for Us

By Nathan Johnson

The deep sea might be cold and dark, but it's not barren. Down here, an incredible diversity of corals shelters young fish like grouper, snapper and rockfish. Sharks, rays and other species live and feed here their whole lives.

Brightly colored coral gardens, far beyond the reach of the sun's rays, don't just nurture deep-sea life. They also help advance medical research and understand climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

Green Groups Balk at England’s Plan to Fast Track Fracking

Government ministers published proposals Thursday that would speed the development of fracking in England, igniting opposition from environmental groups and local communities, The Independent reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy

Before Royal Wedding Sermon, Rev. Curry Stood With Standing Rock Pipeline Opponents

Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered a passionate wedding sermon to royal newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, also gave a powerful message about two years ago to Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

On Sept. 24, 2016 at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the reverend offered the Episcopal Church's solidarity with the water protectors, noting that, "Water is a gift of the Creator. We must protect it. We must conserve it. We must care for it."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Coral bleaching like this (in the Great Barrier Reef) is killing the largest reef in Japan. Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0

Only 1% of Japan’s Largest Reef Still Healthy After Historic Bleaching Catastrophe

In a sobering reminder of the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, a survey by the Japanese government found that barely more than one percent of the coral in the country's largest coral reef is healthy, AFP reported Friday.

The reef, located in the Sekisei Lagoon near Okinawa, has suffered mass coral bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures in 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!