December 5, 2018 Read More →

U.S. coal consumption to fall to 1979 levels by year’s end, government agency says

Associated Press:

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 U.S. coal industry.

A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down.

The country’s electrical grid accounts for most of U.S. coal consumption. U.S. coal demand has been falling since 2007 in the face of competition from increasingly abundant and affordable natural gas and renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. Tougher pollution rules also have compelled some older, dirtier-burning coal plants to close rather than upgrade their equipment to trap more harmful coal emissions.

President Donald Trump has made bringing back the coal industry and abundant coal jobs a tenet of his administration. He and other Republicans frequently attacked former President Barack Obama for waging what they called a “war on coal” through increased regulations that Republicans said killed jobs and harmed the industry. “The coal industry is back,” Trump declared at one rally in West Virginia last summer.

Federal government figures continue to show otherwise, however, as market forces inexorably tamp down coal demand. The Energy Information Administration says coal consumption by the country’s power grid will end the year down 4 percent, and fall another 8 percent in 2019.

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