March 5, 2018 Read More →

‘Coal in the U.S. Is in Secular Decline’

The Hill:

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.

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.

“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.”

More: Coal industry mired in decline despite Trump pledges

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