November 16, 2016 Read More →

On the Blogs: Trump’s ‘Empty Rhetoric’ on Coal Markets

Andy Roberts for

While Trump means to help, he may not have the means to help. A divided U.S. citizenry is similarly reflected in its divided government, leaving the president just one reliable tool in his arsenal — sole executive action.

But while executive action is a tool often used by presidents, it is rarely used to address highly significant and contentious issues, since any action taken by one president can easily be undone by the next.

Still, precedent is being set for using executive action on big environmental issues. Soon, President Obama is very likely to use executive action to ratify the Paris climate accords. In this way, it seems, the people’s energy and environmental business gets done, then undone, then done again, and so on. The coal industry is attached to the end of the yo-yo of presidential action.

Mr. Trump is a powerful personality, possibly able to alter the dialogue and shift policy, for a time. But would a President Trump be powerful enough to alter the future for coal?

In addition to the political issues, he’ll face a trifecta of strong technical headwinds — rising coal mine productivity, low-cost energy alternatives and growing U.S. energy efficiency.

America’s energy production is evolving. Natural gas and renewables are taking market share from an increasingly less labor-intensive coal industry serving a progressively less energy-intensive global economy. This is a recipe for coal industry decline that makes long odds for industry renewal.

It is this situation that a President Trump would seek to alter. There are steps he could take to improve coal’s fortunes. But to make his campaign coal promises more than empty rhetoric, he’d need to use all his persuasive power and make judicious use of executive action.

Full item: President Trump May Not Be Able to Make Coal King Again. But He Can Certainly Slow Its Decline

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