Coal plants all over the country are closing – most notably in Texas – despite President Trump’s campaign promises to increase coal jobs and bring the industry roaring back to life.
Director of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt claimed that there was a “war on coal,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case in light of the data from the EPA itself.
Coal jobs have been dwindling over the past several decades, not due to economic concerns or other factors, but because worldwide demand for coal is shrinking. Renewable energy has largely replaced fossil fuels, and it’s steadily becoming more affordable.
A Department of Energy report, issued on August 23, says, “The biggest contributor to coal and nuclear plant retirements has been the advantaged economics of natural gas-fired generation.”
Considering the retirement of several processing facilities, according to the report, the future of coal looks even more bleak. That’s particularly true when you consider the “clean coal” myth; coal is not inherently a clean energy like wind or solar is. When people refer to clean coal, what they’re talking about is carbon capture and storage, or CCS – and the technology for it has been around for decades. It involves capturing carbon and “storing” it under the earth’s surface, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, which some scientists say is dangerous. Further, it’s expensive to implement; plant owners would have to retrofit the technology in older plants and create new underground storage facilities, costing about $100 billion per year. The math just doesn’t add up when there are more affordable alternatives.
As of right now, 79 percent more coal processing plants are closing than experts and the White House expected. The plants closing in Texas, owned by a company called Luminant, will cost local economies 950 jobs.
Luminant says that the plants are closing due to an “oversupplied” renewable energy market and the fact that natural gas and wholesale electricity’s prices are lower than ever. The plants that are closing haven’t brought in revenue for the company in quite some time, according to executives.
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