Trump Promised To Revive The Coal Industry, But Its Decline Has Only Hastened
Breathing new life into America’s coal industry would be a primary goal of Donald Trump’s presidency, he told voters on the campaign trail in 2016. But three years into his tenure, Trump has yet to deliver on that promise.
Fox News reported last week that “U.S. coal consumption has hit a 41-year low and coal plant closures have actually accelerated,” noting that yet another shutdown will take place in Montana in December.
Colstrip units 1 and 2, which have been in operation since 1975 and represent “one-third of the capacity of the largest coal plant west of the Mississippi”, will be shuttered — despite the Trump administration’s move to undo the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.
Many people believe it is not possible to revive the coal industry, including Randy Hardy, the former head of the Bonneville Power Administration and current energy consultant.
Hardy told Fox News: “There’s nothing [Trump] can do about it. The market economics are so compelling that absent massive federal government subsidies to keep coal alive, you couldn’t do it economically.”
Natural gas, which is much cheaper than coal, and more competitive wind and solar prices eventually will spell the end for the coal industry.
“It’s driven off of economics,” Ron Roberts, Puget Sound Energy’s director of generation, told the news outlet. “It’s just going to become more and more expensive to run a coal-fired power plant.”