The rejection of dirty and expensive coal power is accelerating worldwide. Yet the Trump administration continues its desperate attempts to keep a dying industry on life support.
Earlier this month, federal regulators rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s scheme to bail out coal-fired electricity plants, which can no longer compete economically with renewable energy sources. According to analysts at Energy Innovation, building new wind power facilities is now cheaper than running existing coal plants. As EWG reported last fall, U.S. utilities have proposed shutting 68 coal-powered units by 2020.
It’s a global trend:
- French President Emmanuel Macron pledged this week to shut down all of his country’s coal-fired plants by 2021 – two years ahead of the previous target date.
- The European Union, which last year asked member nations to supply 27 percent of energy from renewables by 2030, wants to raise the goal to 35 percent.
- China, which a year ago planned to build new coal plants at a frantic pace, put more than 150 plants on hold in October and this month cancelled 103 of them.
- Canada and the United Kingdom have launched the Power Past Coal Alliance, with the goal of eliminating coal-fired power in the 35-nation Organization for Economic Development, or OECD, by 2030.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is stubbornly refusing to read the writing on the wall.
- Although it’s a member of the OECD, the U.S. did not sign on to the Power Past Coal Alliance – but California, Oregon and Washington did.
- In its first year, the Trump administration has reversed, weakened or held up eight key coal-related regulations, including those dealing with toxic water discharges from coal plants.
- The administration’s rollback of coal regulations is political payback to Robert Murray, who is CEO of one of the nation’s largest coal mining companies. He gave $300,000 to the president’s campaign.
It’s time for the U.S. to stop being a rogue nation in the global movement away from coal. We should embrace the trend, and marshal our resources and policies for a more sustainable electricity generating system that harbors significant economic, public health and environmental benefits. Instead of trying futilely to keep coal alive, President Trump should be a leader in the movement toward a clean energy future.