Environment

Coal Use Reaches Lowest Level in 40 Years

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

While Trump and the GOP continue to lie to their supporters by telling them they're going to resurrect the coal industry, worldwide coal production plummeted over the past year and coal use dropped to the lowest level in 40 years according to fossil fuel industry research.

Production of the fossil fuel dropped by a record amount in 2016, according to BP Plc’s annual review of global energy trends. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, burned the least coal in six years and use dropped in the U.S to a level last seen in the 1970s, the company’s data show. [...]

“The fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past,” BP’s Chief Economist Spencer Dale said at a briefing in London on Tuesday. The most important outcome of this “is carbon emissions, which saw little or no growth for a third consecutive year.”

Fossil fuel companies may be in the business of selling fossil fuels, but they're also in the business of, you know, making money. And as it turns out, selling energy is still lucrative even if it doesn't come from fossil fuels.

This is why even Exxon Mobil supports the Paris climate agreement, because the truth is the energy giants can be buried overnight by emerging technology companies in the modern economy if they don't adapt. Exxon and BP's real competitors aren't each other or other fossil fuel companies. Their competitors are companies like Tesla and even Apple.

This will be Trump and the GOP's legacy. They aren't going to usher in a new era of coal, they will only forfeit our competitive edge for short-term political gain. And it's not even clear if they will materially gain from it. People are going to notice when the jobs don't come back even after the GOP takes an axe to regulations.

A new metallurgical coal mine recently opened in Pennsylvania, which Trump has pointed to as proof that his agenda is working (the mine was actually approved in 2013), but the mine is expected to employ only 100 people and 85 percent of the coal will be shipped out of the country to be used in the production of steel, not energy. The limited amount of coal that remains in the country is also going to be used in the production of steel.

  • muselet

    Donald Trump may actually believe coal mining declined only because of those dastardly Lefty Ds and their onerous regulations, but coal miners?

    They know full well the coal industry isn’t interested in digging holes in the ground; much cheaper to do mountaintop removal and dump the tailings into the nearest supply of potable water.

    They know full well their jobs will go away within a relatively few years and won’t come back; coal is too expensive relative to other fuels.

    They know full well their sons won’t follow them into the mines.

    But they cheered themselves hoarse and clapped until their palms bled when Trump said he’d bring back coal, then voted for him, and they did so knowing Trump was lying.

    As I’ve said before, I have considerable sympathy for soon-to-be-unemployed coal miners, but I am also running out of patience with them.

    –alopecia

  • Aynwrong

    I honestly

  • Scopedog

    But Trump swears that he’s going to bring back coal.

    Jesus. The more I think about this, the angrier I get at those pinche purists who just fucking HAD to go vote for Stein or write in fucking Harambe or not vote at all because they just could not get behind Hillary who had an actual, coherent energy policy.

    And yet, as Trump continues on his march to fucking the country over nine ways ’til Sunday, these assholes keep bleating about the DNC, Hillary, and Seth Rich.

  • Wildson

    All this “winning” is making my head hurt…

    • I may borrow a movie phrase, it is “Making my ass twitch”.