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Utilities mull nuclear possibilities for electricity market turmoil

November 12, 2020


The election results are a stark reminder of just how divided the country remains on many issues. However, in the days since the results were announced November 7, two senators from both parties are finding common ground in a familiar space: opposition to the Green New Deal and support for a dying coal industry.

Both Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) immediately took to CNN and Fox News in the days after the election was called to try and rally support for the fossil fuel industry in the wake of Joe Biden’s election as president — a success which brings with it the promise of strong climate action.

But their comments also come on the heels of yet another coal plant closure in the U.S. and as the world’s largest coal producer, Peabody Energy, warns of going bankrupt for the second time in five years.

The pandemic has reduced demand for metallurgical coal but expectations are that some or all of that demand will return post-pandemic. Meanwhile, even before the pandemic, thermal coal had a problem: it essentially has no value because there are not enough customers to buy it. As the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reported last year, Peabody admitted in August of 2019 that thermal coal mines had no value. IEEFA noted that consumption of thermal coal in the U.S. is likely to be down 41 percent in just the last two years. The fact that thermal coal is essentially worthless is something the whole industry is facing — with no good financial options to fix the situation. 

[Justin Mikulka]

More: Politicians Try to Rally Support for Coal Despite Economics and Biden Presidential Win

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