US: Coal industry mired in decline despite Trump pledges - PressFrom - US
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US Coal industry mired in decline despite Trump pledges

04:10  05 march  2018
04:10  05 march  2018 Source:   thehill.com

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President Trump has moved aggressively in his first year in office to roll back regulations he says have harmed America’s coal miners. But the industry itself remains mired in long-term decline , a downturn that one of Trump ’s own government agencies predicts will only worsen over time.

In the last year, Trump put mired in decline despite Trump pledges . 14/01/2019 · Report on Business U.S. coal plants continue to close despite Trump industry to keep a campaign promise to coal decline every year since coal

A coal hauling truck with 240 tons of coal drives to the surface at the Buckskin Coal Mine in Gillette, Wyoming, May 5, 2004.© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images A coal hauling truck with 240 tons of coal drives to the surface at the Buckskin Coal Mine in Gillette, Wyoming, May 5, 2004.

President Trump has moved aggressively in his first year in office to roll back regulations he says have harmed America’s coal miners. But the industry itself remains mired in long-term decline, a downturn that one of Trump’s own government agencies predicts will only worsen over time.

New projections from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimate that Americans will be less dependent on coal, that coal production will fall, and that coal capacity in the nation’s power plants is likely to decline in coming years, according to an annual report released last month.

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While President Trump has offered some regulatory relief to the industry , market In the early weeks of 2018, national coal production has continued to decline from a year ago despite the frigid winter. Nevertheless, coal executives say the issuing of federal permits for mining operations has become

President Donald Trump pledged to revive the coal industry and put miners back to work, but one year into his To be sure, it would be a heavy lift for any president to reverse the structural decline in the coal industry . But Trump has tried by repealing President Barack Obama's signature plan to limit

The war on coal, in short, is over. And coal lost.

Experts say regulations, like those put in place during the Obama administration, may have hastened the demise of a once-dominant industry. But the decline started with market forces far more powerful than any presidential administration, including changing demands and the low cost of natural gas.

“Coal in the U.S. is in secular decline. It’s more than regulation, and it’s more than environmental concerns,” said Anna Zubets-Anderson, a vice president and senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Services.

“The deregulation push is not something we think makes a material impact,” said Molly Shutt, a commodities analyst at BMI Research.

That’s not to say the administration hasn’t tried to aid the coal industry. In the last year, Trump put the brakes on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which created new environmental requirements for coal-fired power plants. In his first weeks in office, he signed legislation overturning the Obama-era Stream Protection Rule.

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Trump ’s “impact on the coal sector has been extremely minimal in nature despite his rhetoric,” said Andrew Cosgrove, a Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst. But analysts say the Trump proposal is unlikely to dramatically change the coal industry ’s fortunes or lead to new domestic demand.

Despite all that, however, the outlook for coal , especially in the U.S., is actually pretty terrible, and And to be sure, Trump keeps trying to revive the dying U.S. industry by doing things like relaxing pollution “From a climate and health perspective, the trend toward a declining coal power fleet is

“The regulatory issues are what the president can do right now,” said Travis Deti, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association. “The channels of communications are open again between the industry and the agencies.”

But, Deti added, “The years of mining 400 million tons of coal per year, those days are gone. We’re in a new normal.”

Government data sheds light on just how quickly coal has declined in recent years.

A decade ago, coal was the most common source of energy Americans used, accounting for about a third of total energy production, according to the EIA. In 2016, the last year for which final figures are available, that share dropped to less than 20 percent. Now, gas and oil make up larger shares of the American energy portfolio.

Coal’s share of the energy market is now just 40 percent larger than the share made up by renewable energy. In the last 15 years, coal has declined by a third, while renewables have doubled.

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The United States coal industry and the jobs that support it have been in decline for decades as a result of environmental concerns, automation in The bleak outlook for coal may explain why some of the industry ’s executives have been reluctant to comment on how the Trump presidency may help

Three signal flares went up for the American coal industry recently, all illuminating an inescapable conclusion: Despite President Trump ’s campaign promise, coal -fired power is in trouble and in all likelihood won’t be reasserting itself in the United States. Nor should it.

“Our share is decreasing. And if you look long term, that’s probably a trend that’s going to remain in place,” Deti said. “The market says something, and consumers say something, and utilities say something. And it’s different than it was 10 years ago.”

The industry itself has shed jobs at a furious clip. Today, just about 52,000 Americans are employed in coal mines, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1985, more than 170,000 Americans worked in the mines.

A decade ago, energy analysts might have said oil and natural gas were the energy sources most susceptible to decline. But new technologies like hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, have bolstered those industries, making oil and gas far cheaper than coal. A booming renewable energy sector is adding both jobs and capacity, especially in Western states.

At the same time, energy companies that make decisions about investments in new power plants on a decades-long basis are choosing gas over coal. In the next decade, analysts at BMI Research anticipate energy firms will retire coal-fired power plants that account for 20 gigawatts of power, about 10 percent of the total amount of U.S. coal capacity. Those same companies will bring online natural gas plants that can generate up to three times that much power.

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Republicans have pledged to bring back the industry and its jobs, primarily by neutering those regulations. Figure 2 shows employment in coal mining, in both the East and West. Despite great expansion in coal production over the past half century, employment has steadily declined , with a

But despite the opposition of the coal industry and incoming administration to climate change policy, the tax incentives, which have been enacted by Congress in both Democratic and Republican majorities for over a decade, are unlikely to disappear.

The EIA projects American consumption of all energy sources except coal will rise significantly in the next several decades. At the same time, coal production is expected to decline by an estimated 85 million short tons, or more than 10 percent, within the next five years.

Production declines are likely to hit two of America’s three main coal regions particularly hard. In central Appalachia, where hot-burning and relatively clean coal is some of the best in the world, production costs are rising as miners are forced to dig deeper. And in the Powder River Basin, a lack of access to western ports that could ship coal to Asia means higher transportation costs.

That threatens states like West Virginia and Wyoming, where for generations blue-collar workers used the coal industry to build a middle class life for themselves and their families.

“We’re talking about jobs where we have people with only a high school diploma making $70,000 or $75,000 a year,” said John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research and an associate professor of economics at West Virginia University. “A bounce back to what we considered normal a decade ago is very unlikely.”

In Wyoming, where about 20 percent of the state’s revenue comes from taxes associated with mining, the legislature now faces a budget deficit.

“We’ve been living high and heady for a long time, and with the decline of the industry in the last couple of years and the crash, it’s significant,” Deti said. “When that revenue declines, obviously the state is crunched.”

If there is any bright spot for the coal markets in recent years, it is in exports, which have increased under the Trump administration. Those exports disproportionately come from Midwestern coal mines, which have higher heat values and can be shipped to Asia via the Mississippi River.

“The biggest source of growth over the last year has been exports,” Deskins said.

But even then, the EIA says exporting coal to China and other Asian nations won’t make up for the global slump. Exports, the agency said, are not expected to increase significantly over the coming decades.

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