The US Energy Information Agency just issued a report stating that coal production in 2016 fell to its lowest level since 1978. It cites several factors that are responsible for the decline, but it comes down to basic economics. There are other sources of energy that are cheaper than coal. The price of natural gas is near record lows and production of energy from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro is increasing. In the case of hydroelectric energy, relief from the drought that has gripped the western part of the US for 5 years has help boost hydro production simply because there is more water available to spin the turbines.
The decline in coal production makes Donald Trump’s maniacal pledge to reinvigorate the production and use of coal in America an object lesson in delusional thinking. He swept into the White House in large part because he promised unemployed coal miners he would put them back to work. That bold faced lie was cunningly calculated to resonate with miners. Trump might just as well have promised to bring back sailing ships or the whaling industry. What America needs is leadership so that people can transition to jobs in emerging market sectors — like solar and wind power — instead of platitudes, promises, and pedantry.
Trump and Zinke conveniently overlook the stunning growth in renewable energy taking place all across America. Near the end of March, the California grid operator tweeted,
— California ISO (@California_ISO) March 23, 2017
Six days later, it announced that renewables hit an all time high in the state — 9676 megawatts.
Overall, total energy production fell 4% in 2016. According to the EIA, much of that drop was attributable to an increase in imports of foreign oil, which rose 7% from the prior year. That’s something a real national leader would be concerned about. The US has squandered trillions of dollars and millions of lives since the end of World War II to preserve and protect access to oil reserves in other countries. It has the ability to use no foreign sourced energy resources at all if it just had the political will to take that step.
Source: Think Progress