Trump : “War On Beautiful, Clean Coal Over”

Donald Trump - beautiful clean coal

Image: MIH83

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say, but the words beautiful, clean and coal used together by U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday certainly raised a few eyebrows.

President Trump had little to say regarding energy in his first State of the Uniom Union, but like his tweets, he doesn’t need many words in a speech to trigger controversy.

“We have ended the war on American energy. And we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal. We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world,” said the President.

.. and with those 30 words, it was game on.

Actually, it was a little hard to tell if it was Trump or Alec Baldwin if you only listened to the speech. Thankfully we soon had access to transcripts to confirm the coal comment was indeed uttered by The Donald. There’s also this brief video as further confirmation.

The single mention of coal was one more than what was said about solar power, wind energy or other renewables; which failed to gain any recognition, good or bad. The word “environment” also didn’t rate a mention in his speech, nor did “emissions”, “climate change” or “pollution”. With the State of the Union being such an important speech, the failure to mention these issues didn’t go unnoticed.

War On Energy?

As for the war on American energy, what he was referring to was anyone’s guess. However, the president may have recently started his own after green-lighting action last week referred to as the Trump Solar Tariffs, Trump Solar Tax and some terms we probably shouldn’t mention here.

South Korea has already approached the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the tariffs, saying they “put political considerations ahead of international standards”.

South Korea should fear not, President Trump says everything is on the up-and-up.

“From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair.”

Unfortunately, a copy of the Oxford Trump Dictionary wasn’t immediately available at the time of writing to gain an accurate definition of “fair”. It’s also possible President Trump was referring to trade issues from yesterday afternoon (Australian eastern time) onwards. Sometimes deciphering what he says is a bit like trying to interpret Nostradamus prophecies.

“Now” An Energy Exporter?

As for “now” being an exporter of energy, the USA has been for a very, very long time – in the form of coal, oil, gas and dozens of fossil fuel products. Like Australia’s fossil fuel industries, the USA has been a Typhoid Mary of encapsulated energy related emissions and other environmental havoc for decades.

Coal, Beautiful (Cough) Coal

While the president is well-known for his unpredictable nature, what was pretty clear from the speech is Donald Trump’s love affair with coal looks set to continue; even as coal lays bleeding in the gutter after being hit by the renewable energy juggernaut.

According to the most recent report available from the U.S Energy Information Administration, coal production in the U.S for the second quarter of last year was the second lowest for a Q2 since at least 2011. However, it did experience a bump up compared to the same quarter in 2016. It remains to be seen if that was an anomaly or the start of a trend.

President Trump’s passion for coal won’t go unchallenged – earlier this month, a Trump administration plan to prop up coal-fired and nuclear power plants with subsidies failed to pass muster with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Approximately 16 percent of the U.S. coal fleet has retired in the past five years andĀ 74 coal power generation units representing 20,650 MW capacity are to be retired by the end of 2020.

The number of coal mining jobs in the country is also just a fraction of what it once was and employment gains under Trump have been at best modest. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary figures indicate there may have been another downward trend starting late last year.

UPDATE: If there is any war going on, it’s one against renewables. The Washington Post reports the Trump administration will ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Department of Energy’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that this quote, odd as it is, bears no more resemblance to reality than many other things he also mentioned.

    I take even more comfort knowing that those who previously dismissed renewables thinking “let the market sort it out” will be currently watching the market sort it out.

  2. The fact that Trump does not hold to the same beliefs that you do is not a problem. The way the system works is that each four years every citizen gets the chance to vote for the leadership they like more. So if people like next time around they can vote in someone who heavily taxes coal and worships Gaia and hands out free solar panels or whatever.

    It’s always temporary, don’t be grinding your teeth all the time just go with it because there are much bigger things to consider. Battery tech is becoming better, nuclear is becoming cheaper and more compact…. in a decade the energy industry is likely to be quite different – there so much positive news about.

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