EPA reportedly set to scrap rules on new coal-fired plants

The Coal Industry Is At Its Lowest Point Since 1979

The Coal Industry Is At Its Lowest Point Since 1979

United States coal consumption in 2018 is expected to be the lowest since 1979 and fall further still next year, as a near-record number of coal plants closed in 2018, according to a December 4 report by the Energy Information Administration. That includes scrapping Obama's signature Clean Power Plan that would have spurred electrical suppliers to turn away from coal-fired power plants in favor of cleaner forms of energy such as natural gas.

Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter's presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration's pledges to revive the USA coal industry. The new rules compelled some older coal plants to close instead of upgrading their equipment to trap harmful emissions, according to the Associated Press.

Trump has attempted to help the coal industry through policy efforts.

"Coal use is at its lowest level in almost four decades and the Trump administration can't stop this country from continuing to move beyond coal", said Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

Trump "talks tough to the coal miners to get their support, but he doesn't deliver for them, and I don't think that he can, because the markets are bigger than him", said Joe Pizarchik, who directed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the Obama administration. Since 2010, power plant owners have either retired or announced plans to retire at least 630 coal plants in 43 states - almost 40 percent of the USA coal fleet, according to data by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. But the numbers say otherwise. The Energy Information Administration wrote that coal consumption by the US grid will end down 4 percent this year.

Pizarchik, now a consultant on water quality and reforestation, said lower prices for natural gas and renewables will continue to drive down demand for coal, despite deregulation efforts by the Trump administration.

National gas production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has jumped from 2 percent of the nation's total in 2008 to 27 percent a year ago, Perry said. He added that the lower cost of renewables will continue to hurt the coal industry. Utilities are using a provision in the tax law that lets them accelerate depreciation costs for closing plants.

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