Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump on energy policy: He said he would revive coal and also help oil and natural gas, but how?

Can Donald Trump follow through on his promise
 to revive the coal industry? (Getty Images)
During his campaign Donald Trump promised to revive the coal industry but also to support oil and natural gas, a fuel that has replaced coal at many power plants, and offered no details. Now what can we expect his energy policy to be?

When it comes to coal there might not be much Trump can do, except roll back President Obama's carbon-dioxide regulations that aim a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. Even that might not do much to help the ailing industry, John Miller and Timothy Puko report for The Wall Street Journal. "By all appearances, coal looks to be well on its way out in North America, though it remains a growing energy source in developing parts of the world. In the U.S., coal miners have lost $30 billion in market value this decade, and the sector has shed over 30,000 jobs since 2009."

While Republicans blame Obama and his "war on coal," experts "say the main culprit for coal’s decline is natural gas, which has flooded the market since the development of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, undercutting coal," Miller and Puko write. "This year is the first in recorded memory when gas will make up a bigger part of the grid than coal. On Tuesday, the Energy Information Administration said U.S. coal production was expected this year to fall to its lowest level in nearly four decades, while natural gas would 'increase in 2017 as drilling activity picks up and new pipelines connect supplies to demand centers'.”

Those in depleted coal communities have high expectations for Trump, Stu Johnson reports for WEKU-FM at Eastern Kentucky University. Ben Hale, chief executive of Floyd County, a former Democratic stronghold where 70 percent voted for Trump, told Johnson, “He has made these promises. We expect him to follow through on them and see if he can do something, as far as restoring that industry and helping our coal people get back to work.”

When it comes to oil and gas, expect more pipelines, Mike Soraghan reports for Energywire: "Trump, who campaigned on making America energy independent, cannot do much to accelerate drilling amid a price slump. But pipeline construction represents perhaps the fastest way to give the oil and gas industry a shot in the arm and stick it to the anti-fossil-fuel movement."

Trump is expected to revive the Keystone XL pipeline and to end delays of the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as giving the green light to other proposed projects, Soraghan writes. "The oil and gas industry is enthusiastic about the potential to stop playing defense on the pipeline issue. Industry figures say President Obama blocked the Keystone XL pipeline and delayed the Dakota Access pipeline to appease environmental groups."

Trump also is expected to roll back regulations, "including a crackdown on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and expanding the scope of the Clean Water Act by broadening the definition of 'waters of the U.S.'," Soraghan writes.

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