Twitter is the perfect communication medium for Donald Trump. It gives him the chance to bellow and bluster without the need to think in sentences that are more than 140 characters long. Trump has ballyhooed his plan to take a wrecking ball to the Paris climate accords as part of his dream of making America a coal-powered society again, but US coal companies are begging the administration to rethink that position (assuming any actual thought went into it in the first place.) They say it is important for them to have a seat at the table as world leaders debate how to implement that agreement.
Representatives from Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy told White House officials recently that remaining in the global deal to combat climate change will give US negotiators a chance to advocate for coal in the future of the global energy mix. “The future is foreign markets, so the last thing you want to do if you are a coal company is to give up a U.S. seat in the international climate discussions and let the Europeans control the agenda,” said an unnamed official. “They can’t afford for the most powerful advocate for fossil fuels to be away from the table.”
Cloud Peak’s position is that staying in the agreement and trying to encourage “a more balanced, reasonable and appropriate path forward” on fossil fuel technologies among signatories to the best thing to do, according to Richard Reavey, its vice president of government affairs.
The coal industry is interested in making sure the Paris deal provides a role for low emission coal-fired power plants and financial support for carbon capture and storage technology, according to officials. They also want the agreements implementing the Paris accord to protect multilateral funding for international coal projects through bodies like the World Bank.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to pull the United States out of the pact, a position meant to pander to Republicans who believe the United States’ energy policy would become a hostage of the United Nations if the Paris agreement is implemented. But since being elected, Trump has been mostly quiet on the issue, and administration officials have begun asking energy companies for advice. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said last week the administration expected to make a decision on whether to remain a party to the deal by the time G7 leaders meet in late May.
The prospect of the United States remaining in the Paris deal has irritated some smaller miners, including Murray Energy, whose chief executive, Robert Murray, helped fund Trump’s presidential bid. Staying in the Paris accord is still anathema to most Republicans, many of whom are beholden to Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests for their seats in Congress. Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has been circulating a letter among Republican lawmakers calling on the president to stay in the deal, but has gathered only seven signatures so far.
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