Connect with us

Not Fake News

A year after Trump’s election, future of coal remains bleak

Reuters/Mike Blake



A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever.

A Reuters review of mining data shows an industry that has seen only modest gains in jobs and production this year – much of it from a temporary uptick in foreign demand for U.S. coal rather than presidential policy changes.

U.S. utilities are shutting coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace and shifting to cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar power. And domestic demand makes up about 90 percent of the market for U.S. coal.

“We’re not planning to build any additional coal facilities,” said Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for American Electric Power, one of the largest U.S. utilities. “The future for coal is dictated by economics … and you can’t make those kinds of investments based on one administration’s politics.”


Coal plants now make up 47 percent of AEP’s capacity for power generation, a figure it plans to shrink to 33 percent by 2030.

(For a graphic on coal production, demand and employment, see:

The situation highlights the limitations of presidential policy on major industries and global economic trends. As some energy experts have said all along, the forces that will make or break mining are well beyond the powers of the Oval Office.

A White House official did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has likely done all he can do to help the industry, said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, which represents major U.S. coal companies.

“The government is no longer against us,” he said. “We now only have market forces to contend with.”

Trump has taken action on many promises he made to coal interests in states that helped him win the election.

The president started the process of killing former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, meant to reduce carbon emissions from power plants; ended an Obama-era moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands; ditched limits on dumping coal waste into streams; and started withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.


Now Trump’s Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, is attempting to push a rule through the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would subsidize power plants that store at least a 90-day supply of coal on site. The goal is to extend the life of some coal burning power plants, a move Perry says will make the electric grid more reliable.

While the full impact of Trump’s coal policy could take years to understand, the changes so far are unlikely to boost domestic demand, energy analysts and utility officials said.



Trump has cast the coal industry as a victim of burdensome regulation.

The industry has lost more than 40 percent of its work force in less than a decade and seen production drop to its lowest levels since 1978. Its share of the power market has fallen to less than a third from about half in 2003.

“We’re going to bring the coal industry back 100 percent,” Trump said at a rally in Virginia in August of 2016.

So far, progress has been limited.

U.S. coal production is on track to rise more than 8 percent in 2017 over the previous year, to 790 million tons, according to the Energy Information Administration. But 2018 output is expected to decline.

The number of coal miners has also risen slightly to 51,900 in October, up about 2,200 since November 2016 – but down about 70 percent from a 1985 peak, according to the Labor Department.


On November 1, Trump cited the modest production increases in a Tweet, saying, “It is finally happening for our great clean coal miners!”

But these increases are largely attributable to demand for U.S. coal from Asian steel mills after temporary outages from their usual suppliers in Australia, according to James Stevenson, a coal analyst at IHS Markit.

During the first six months of 2017, Asian countries took in 7.5 million short tons of U.S. coal, up 97 percent over the same period in 2016, according to the EIA.

That demand will soon fade, Stevenson said.

“We are not going to get a repeat of 2017,” he said of the spike in exports.



Forecasts from utilities and the U.S. government reveal little reason for hope of a sustained coal rebound.

Utilities are expected to shut down more than 13,600 megawatts of coal plant capacity in 2018. That follows a loss of nearly 8,000 MW this year and 13,000 MW in 2016, according to EIA and Thomson Reuters data.

By 2025, coal-fired power plant capacity will dip to 226,380 MW, down about 30 percent from 2011, according to EIA.

Three Texas coal plants owned by Vistra Energy Corp subsidiary Luminant are among the latest to close, bringing the number of plants that shut, or plan to, to 265 since 2010 – a figure higher than the 258 plants that remain, according to the Sierra Club, which has campaigned against coal.


Vistra said the closures were forced by lower prices for natural gas and renewable power – and not by environmental regulations.

Duke Energy, one of the country’s largest utilities, has shut down more than 5,400 MW of coal capacity since 2011 and plans to shed another 2,000 MW by 2024.

Over the next decade, Duke plans to invest $11 billion in new natural gas and renewable power – and nothing in new coal-fired generation, said spokesman Rick Rhodes.

A Nov. 2 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – which has two of the largest coal producers in its district, Peabody Energy Corp and Arch Coal Inc – said coal-fired power plants “may eventually become obsolete.”

Coal companies believe they can survive despite the troubling market outlook.


Peabody expects a “modest number” of coal power plant retirements in the coming years, with some of that lost capacity shifting to remaining plants that will increase output, spokesman Vic Svec said. Arch spokeswoman Logan Bonacorsi offered a similar forecast.

Robert Murray, the chief executive of privately-held Murray Energy Corp – one of America’s biggest underground miners – said Trump could do more for the industry. The administration, Murray said, should end tax breaks for wind and solar power and reverse an EPA finding that carbon emissions endanger human health.

But Trump’s tax bill last week preserved most solar incentives, which have bi-partisan backing. And the EPA has so far steered clear of the so-called “endangerment finding” on emissions that is the basis of many fossil-fuel regulations, given the breadth of scientific evidence that would be needed to reverse it.

Murray Energy, meanwhile, announced on Oct. 31 it will buy a 30.5 percent stake in a coal-mining partnership in Utah called Canyon Consolidated Resources, LLC.

The deal might help the companies cut costs, but it’s unlikely to help workers: Murray said about 200 of 1,000 jobs in Utah could be lost.


(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; additional reporting by Scott Disavino in New York; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Brian Thevenot)

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Not Fake News

YouTube enters gun control debate, bans instructional firearms videos



YouTube has become the latest battleground in the debate on United States gun control. Videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories will now be banned, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms, reports Bloomberg.

Here’s the specific guidelines from YouTube:

This is not the first time YouTube has tightened its firearms policies. After the Las Vegas shooting, YouTube ruled that videos instructing how to install bump stocks fell under the category of “harmful and dangerous content.”

The policy updates shove the video-sharing website into the hostile debate on gun control, which has been reinvigorated after 17 students and faculty were killed at a Parkland, Florida high school. However, reports show gun-related deaths or injuries have occurred at high school or college campuses 1.5 per week since the beginning of the year. Among the gun-related deaths or injuries so far this year was a shooting spree on January 23 at a Kentucky middle school where 16 were shot, two of which were killed. Earlier this week, on March 20, two students were shot and injured at a Maryland high school. That shooter was killed.

Some vloggers have lashed out at YouTube for the adjusted regulations. Spike’s Tactical, a company that sells firearm parts and accessories, posted on social media that its account was suspended for its firearm videos. The suspension notice said that the account had “repeatedly or severely violated” YouTube’s community guidelines, so it’s unclear if the violations occurred before the tightened restrictions.

“The Liberal Left will slowly chip away at our freedoms and erode our rights, and the first step is to squelch our voice,” Spike’s posted in a profanity-laced rant on Facebook.

YouTube has long been criticized by gun control advocates for allowing illegal content to proliferate on the site. Just this week, YouTube kids was put on blast after a video provided its young audience with step-by-step instructions on how to create an air gun. That video, which racked up more than 3 million views, has since been removed.

Let’s see if this makes a difference.

Load More
Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.

Continue Reading

Not Fake News

John Oliver’s parody book about Mike Pence’s gay bunny SOLD OUT!




John Oliver wrote a parody book about a day in the life of Vice President Mike Pence’s gay bunny. And the book sold out!

So here’s the kicker, boys and girls. Mike Pence actually has a bunny. And his name is Marlon Bundo. He’s even Insta famous, look him up. That pun is pretty fucking adorable, too. It’s also ironic, as it’s stemmed from the name of famous actor Marlon Brando, who has reportedly had a string of secret homosexual relationships, while Pence has vigorously opposed marriage equality. That being said, the VP’s daughter, Charlotte, wrote a book about about a day in the life of Marlon Bundo as he follows Pence around.

The book is illustrated by Pence’s wife, Karen, and includes historical facts intended to be educational for children.

A day before Monday’s release of “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President,” Last Week Tonight host John Oliver announced on his show that he dropped his own Marlon Bundo book on Amazon — and that Marlon Bundo is gay. Instead of following around the VP, Marlon Bundo falls in a love with a boy in Oliver’s book.

Oliver’s book reached No. 1 on Amazon’s best-sellers list while the Pence-penned book was No. 4. And as mentioned, it’s sold out for now.

Charlotte and Karen Pence appeared on Fox Business Network together and were asked about Oliver’s parody book. Charlotte appeared mildly supportive of the gay bunny book, too, saying: “I mean, I think you know, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery in a way. But also, in all seriousness, his book is contributing to charities that I think we can all get behind. We have two books giving to charities that are about bunnies so I’m all for it really.”

An unspecified portion of the profits from the Pences’ book will go to non-controversial organizations that focus on providing art therapy to children. Meanwhile, 100 percent of proceeds from Oliver’s book are going toward AIDS United, a group dedicated to ending the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization that offers support to young LGBT community members.

Load More
Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.


Continue Reading

Not Fake News

‘Sex and the City’ star is running for governor of New York



OK, Sex and the City fans, here’s a question for you: Should the person filling the role of a governor be a Carrie, a Miranda, a Charlotte or a Samantha?

Most who have watched the show would likely say a Miranda. She was the responsible career-oriented lawyer, after all. And that just might become a reality since Cynthia Nixon, the actress who played Miranda on the beloved HBO series and movie franchise, announced Monday (March 19) her gubernatorial bid for governor of New York.

“I love New York, and today I’m announcing my candidacy for governor,” she tweeted Monday.

Nixon also posted a chilling video on social media with her announcement:

The Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winning actress will challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Empire State’s Democratic primary in September.

Continue Reading

Most Popular