Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Senior Trump economic aide says coal no longer makes sense; encourages renewable energy

(Photo from the World Coal Association)
President Trump campaigned as the savior of the coal industry and the miners who have lost their jobs since its demise, but his most senior economic aide doesn't seem to be on board.

"Coal doesn't even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock," Gary Cohn said aboard Air Force One on Thursday, referring to raw materials that get converted into a fuel. Cohn, who serves as director of the National Economic Council, instead praised natural gas as "such a cleaner fuel" and one that America has become an "abundant producer of," Matt Egan reports for CNN Money.

Trump rarely talks about the potential of renewable energy, but Cohn has praised it. "If you think about how solar and how much wind power we've created in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly," he said. Cohn's comments jibe with what energy experts have been saying for some time, but don't seem to fit with Trump's stance.

"Cohn's words are especially significant, because Trump is expected to soon decide whether to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord, which is forcing governments in many countries to crack down on the carbon emissions from coal and other fossil fuels. World leaders, Democrats and some major companies have urged Trump not to ditch the landmark deal that represents the most significant effort to date to combat climate change," Egan writes. At least 22 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have urged him to ditch it.

Trump followed through on his promise to end Obama's "war on coal" by signing an executive order in March that began unraveling his predecessor's signature efforts to combat climate change. "The problem is that Trump's deregulation push is unlikely to bring about the coal renaissance he wants," Egan notes. "That's because coal's dramatic downfall has come not from regulations, but has been driven by market forces, especially the abundance of cheap natural gas."

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