Coal Plant Closures During Trump-Era Surpass Those During Obama’s Last Term, Data Shows

From The Daily Caller

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Chris White Tech Reporter June 23, 2020 3:41 PM ET

Coal plant closures have accelerated under President Donald Trump despite the president’s 2016 presidential campaign promise to end what he called his Democratic predecessor’s war on coal, according to a report published Monday.

There were nearly 48 gigawatts of coal power retired during the entirety of former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, with 33 gigawatts coming offline in his second term, E&E News reported, citing data from the Energy Information Administration. Roughly 37 gigawatts of coal have been lost during Trump’s term, data show.

Another 3.7 gigawatts is expected to end over the next six months. A gigawatt is typically used to measure the production capacity of large power plants or power grids. One gigawatt can power nearly 300,000 homes, provided the stream of energy is constant.

“It’s a holocaust. There is no other way to describe it,” Fred Palmer, a former executive at Peabody Energy, told E&E News Monday. “I’ve always fought the closing coal plant fight, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get to where we are today.”

Palmer is a Trump supporter and member of the National Coal Council. He was formerly an executive with Peabody Energy, which filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Peabody cited the coal industry’s downward plunge in the energy market, stiff competition from natural gas producers, and a drop in Chinese economic production as reasons for the bankruptcy.

Palmer said he does not believe Trump is to blame for coal’s gloomy conditions. “I am a supporter of Donald Trump’s, and I don’t think what he has not done is something that precipitated this,” Palmer said. (RELATED: More Than 50 Coal Companies Have Been Wiped Out Since Trump’s 2016 Victory)

The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment, but agency spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told E&E that the president made one big and consequential move: He gave the coal industry a fighting chance by ending Obama’s regulations.

“President Trump ended the Obama Administration’s eight-year war on coal by eliminating the top down federal mandates that were destroying coal producing communities all over the nation, most importantly rolling back the Clean Power Plan,” Hynes told E&E in an email.

Hynes was referring to the so-called Clean Power Plan, which required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022 and encouraged states to close and replace facilities with natural gas, E&E reported.

Obama’s rule was expected to force more coal power plants and mines to close down, costing thousands of jobs in the process. Nearly 40% of coal-fired power capacity has been retired or announced plans to retire as a result of market forces, technological change and an increase in regulations, according to some experts.

78 thoughts on “Coal Plant Closures During Trump-Era Surpass Those During Obama’s Last Term, Data Shows

  1. Ship me the redundant coal. I’d love to heat the home for myself and the following generations, and infuriate Justin Trudeau at the same time.

    • I grew up with a coal stove in the basement in our little house on the prairie. And I still miss the smell and heat of that coal burning stove at the outdoor skating rink, when we didn’t stop playing hockey until the thermometer dropped to at least at -20 F. They didn’t even consider windchill in those days. And then we went skating for fun in endless circles around the rink chasing all the girls. Those were the days…having said that, I wouldn’t recommend we all return to burning coal in the city and have a pea soup smog, but coal can still be turned into thousands of useful products and it will again some day. Money in the bank. Just have to think outside the box, while we get really cheap base load Gen 4-5 and beyond nuclear approved, and then built. Energy should be the least of our problems.

  2. There’s likely a lot of factors not mentioned. How long does it take to close up a coal plant? Were many of these plants that have recently been closed already in the process? There needs to be a replacement source to shut down a plant, and if that resource was built, then it would likely be tough for the plant to change course and remain operational. Also, states and cities can still have their own war on coal.

    • Coal Plant Closures During Trump-Era Surpass Those During Obama’s Last Term, Data Shows

      The above “headline” is proof-positive that the Daily Caller News Foundation and Chris White, Tech Reporter, ….. are supporters of the liberal Democrats and committed to “badmouthing” President Trump at ever chance they get..

  3. Isn’t this cheap plentiful natural gas wining? Not only is it cheap as a raw material, but cheaper plants to build and maintain. Never mind the giant ash heaps to depose of. Lets celebrate capitalism at its best

    • “Isn’t this cheap plentiful natural gas wining?”
      That was Obama’s intention. From this DC article:
      “Hynes was referring to the so-called Clean Power Plan, which required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022 and encouraged states to close and replace facilities with natural gas, E&E reported.”

      • Might be plausible cover story except for the very real fact that behind the scenes Obama and his merry band of enviro-nutters he had running the EPA were coming for shale gas fracking with their illegal WOTUS rules, closing federal lands to permitting and denying pipeline permits essential to move the gas to the users.

      • Obama’s intention, in his own words:

        “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

      • Nice attempt at distraction there Nick. However, had that been all that Obama intended, then there would have been no need for him to do anything else.
        Unfortunately for you, Obama’s actual words as well as his actions were clear and were recorded.

  4. The biggest problem coal faces today is not the Obama era regulations (not all of which have been removed), it’s the fact that natural gas is so cheap thanks to frakking.
    Of course if the Greens have their way, that will be banned as well.

  5. Duh, geez, let me see; has the cratering price of natural gas somehow have anything to do with the displacement of the uses of coal?

  6. Have commented on this before, plus a guest post at Judiths some years ago. The observation is correct, the reasons compelling. Nothing to do with Pres Trump.
    1. CCGT is cheaper to build AND cheaper to run than HELE coal. The only HELE new coal plant in US is Turk. Look up Climate Etc essay ‘Clean Coal’, also in my ebook Blowing Smoke.
    2. Average retirement age of old coal (~34% efficiency is 48 years). By that metric, when I last looked in 2016, about 35% of the US coal fleet was due to retire by 2025. It is 2020. The inevitable is occuring.

    • “That clown” did not crater the economy, and kill 120,000 Americans in his first three years in office.

      • Henry, neither did Pres Trump. You may wish to see which states moved people with the Wuhan virus into nursing homes and the resulting deaths of some of our most vulnerable citizens. You also might wish to look at the number of deaths in red states and blue states. The result of the virua did indeed crater the economy, but look at which states are recovering economically and which are not.

        It is easy for you to make wild and unfounded comments if you do not look at the facts nor try to justify your statements. But is is hard sometimes to face the truth.

        • The number of deaths is a lagging indicator. New cases precede death by 7 to 10 days. Facts: New case rates in Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are rising.

          Who “pushed” to reopen the economy by Easter?

          • An existential requirement Henry. It may be years before we know when it happened, (if we make it through this) but at some point likely already long past, the morbidity and mortality of the shutdowns / quarantines surpassed the same from Covid. I just read something today that suggests there is an excess of 10K cancer deaths already due Covid fixation related personal, and medical system failures.

            It seems that Covid death rates will closely mimic a hard influenza year. At some point past we should have decided to storm the beach, and lose some people rather than surrender and lose many more by knocking our economy back fifty years. We don’t close for the flu.

            P.S. I’m at retirement age, have heart disease, and am staring steely eyed at the possible consequences to me of my own words.

          • Sendergreen: 1) A “a hard influenza year.” doesn’t kill 120,000 people in 4 months. 2) A “a hard influenza year” does not require hospitals in NYC to use refrigerated trailer truck for morgues.

          • Henry Pool says:
            “Sendergreen: 1) A “a hard influenza year.” doesn’t kill 120,000 people in 4 months.”

            ———————————
            Prairie fertilizer.
            A ) The 1957 H2N2 influenza killed an estimated 116,000 people in the United States when the US population was only 172 million. Corrected for population that would be well over 200,000 people if that same level mortality struck today. Without a vaccine developed by Maurice Hildeman from Walter Reed Army Research that death toll would have been a million more says the Smithsonian .

            B ) You’ve likely never heard of the 1957 flu at all much less it being a monster killer, even though it has Covid claimed numbers near matched. So, I’d say the 1957 H2N2 falls into the category of a “hard flu”. And, no the US Economy was not shut down by fiat.

            C ) I believe that there is lots of now anecdotal evidence, plus supposition that the Covid death tolls are overstated. Directives in some jurisdictions exist to mark death as Covid with any death from pneumonia/respiratory failure, even where no test is conducted to confirm presence of Covid virus. Respiratory failure from chronic pulmonary illness, flu, and pneumonia account for over 7% of all deaths. That alone is a hefty potentially false/questionable section of claimed Covid mortality. Plus Medicare pays $8K more to the doc/hospital for a Covid pneumonia patient, a whopping $34K more if a Covid patient goes on a respirator. I’d call that a hefty incentive to Covidize. I don’t think we’ll ever have a true mortality estimate. There is another hefty incentive to overstate. The terror in politicians of being found to have pressed people into an unnecessary lockdown and economic depression.

          • Lots of people did.
            First you blame Trump for the economic damage done by the lockdowns, now you are claiming that he is being irresponsible for pushing to end the lockdowns.

            If you liberals didn’t have double standards, you would have no standards at all.

          • So what Henry? I’m at retirement age and have heart disease. I say, being in the second tier of those most at risk for serious outcomes … including death if I contract covid, that we have to open the economy. I say we are well past the point where the consequences of morbidity and mortality of the lock-downs are greater than those of covid.

          • Henry Pool says :
            ” 2) A “a hard influenza year” does not require hospitals in NYC to use refrigerated trailer truck for morgues.”
            ————————————–
            A ) New York City recorded 30,000 Influenza deaths during the 1918 Flu Pandemic. When the US population was one third its current level. And 21,000 of those deaths occurred in just two months between September14. and November 16th. The NY Mayor had to send 75 men to Calvary Cemetery in October to help lower the backlog of unburied victims of the flu that were being stored in a two-level shed, and threatening another public health risk.

            B ) Did you forget Henry, New York City Mayor Di Blasio on TV in January urging people to go to the Chinese New Year celebrations and parades a week before Wuhan was placed in quarantine ? And that NYC had regular flights into JFK Airport direct from Wuhan City ? And he and other NYC pols also urged people to visit and not avoid Flushing NY’s Chinatown which took an economic downturn due to the fear of the “coronavirus” ?

          • Sendergreen, you are comparing a WHOLE flu season (1957) with 4 months of COVID-19. You fail to realize that the coronavirus pandemic is not over yet.

      • Wow, the TDS is strong in this one.

        Trump killed 120,000 people. Really. Trump caused China to lose control of a virus that they were researching? Trump caused China to hide this fact from the rest of the world for 3 months?
        Trump caused just about every country in the world to lock down their economies?

        Your desperate need to blame someone other than your fellow travelers would be pathetic, if it weren’t so predictable.

      • yeah… let’s have an all gun’s blazing Trump vs Obama argument that’ll sort it out.

        Unless one is being disingenuous or hyper-partisan it seems that the reasons are numerous, and that the meddling of governments is only one, of many factors, influencing the industry.

        Obviously energy markets, fracking, increased productivity, the EPA et al. are all involved to some degree.

        The annual share of total US electricity generated by coal goes from just over 50% back at the beginning of this century, down to less than 30% today. Slippery slopes and all that.

        What American coal needs is a marxist leader like Arthur Scargill to lead you back from the precipice. /sarc

  7. Coals big battle is with the environmentalists. They want coal power plants to apply Carbon Capture and Sequestration. The problem with CCS is the cost to apply and the cost of operation. Power plants want to operate profitably. CCS takes 30% of the power plants produced steam to “strip” the CO2 from the capture amine. This means less electricity will be produced and sold.It then needs 15% of the power plants produced electricity to cool and compress the CO2 so it can be pumped down a million dollar per mile pipeline to a destination where it is then pumped down a hole in the ground, and then monitored to ensure it does not leak back out. With this system operating the coal power plant is putting into the atmosphere less CO2 than a natural gas fired power plant.
    But there is an option. https://youtu.be/RQRQ7S92_lo http://www.SidelGlobal.com

  8. Gas turbines with combined cycle producing steam using the hot turbine exhaust take up less real estate and are more efficient than coal plants…if you are a power producer you don’t need to operate a mine and/or a railroad yard to generate and sell power, and you can put a power station near the cities where the gas was going anyway, thus saving the building of long transmission lines from stations located near coal fields, and the issues those rights-of-way involve. Plus your emissions of heavy metals and fly ash disposal is nil.
    Engineering practicality and economics is killing coal plants. For both Obama and Trump, the downhill slide was just something they could electioneer with, one for emissions reductions, the other as job protection. whatever their spin doctors suggested would get them the most votes. Most politicians wait for a parade and then jump in front of it…claiming parade leadership as they wave at the audience.

    • Having spent 50 years in the Energy Business— Nuclear beats them all and would become more cost competitive if we get rid of the NRC. And we develop Thorium Reactors with small area grids saving enormous power line infrastructure costs.
      Coal is the best base load and the equipment lasts for 30-50 years depending on maintenance. On-site coal storage is a huge advantage for security reasons. Many “experts” overlook this aspect. Sited properly the next generation PP the pollution is considerably less than volcano eruptions.
      Gas turbines are great for stabilizing loads due to their 10-1 turn down ratio but causes premature equipment failure if its control system is not managed properly. Over time ROI it is not as competitive as Nuclear or Coal. Interruption of pipelines for maintenance or sabotage does not bode well for operating base load as many installations lack adequate storage because of enormous tank construction costs and area required.
      Both genius energy experts Drs. Mark Mills & Art Robinson would support these conclusions.

      • MarkW
        “Trump lives in your head, rent free.”
        Not for much longer. Which actually on one level will be a shame. His death by a thousand cuts has been entertaining. And no I don’t feel any guilt, the guy is a charlatan.

        • You will be crying about Trump for 4 more years, and then you will cry about Trump for the rest of you life. It will be glorious to watch all you idiots screeching at the sky for the rest of your lives!

        • He will always live in your head. You just can’t let go of your hate. It’s all you have left.

        • No – Simon – you are the charlatan – every single thing your progressive party has done in the last four years (and LONG before that) has been based on lies, deception, up to and including conspiracy and treason – not to mention violence and intimidation of your common citizenry. Your people have embraced fascism – and all it took was a phony, made-up-caricature for TOTAL bigots like yourself to hate.
          I’m not surprised you feel no guilt – you have no shame either. Conceited as all hell, but no shame. I could not possibly think less of you.

          • Joel Snider
            Trump is no phoney bigot. He is the real deal. Kung flu anyone? Could you be any more racist? He is the president of the United States of America. We should all be ashamed that he feels it ok to speak like that. Where has he taken the country but down a dark hole….

            I have no shame seeing an adulterous, lying fraudulent, traitorous, megalomaniac go down and nor should anyone with half a sense of decency… so don’t lecture me about citizenry.

          • Once again Simon demonstrates that anything they disagree with must be evil.
            No thought necessary. (Not that socialists are actually capable of thought.)

            On one hand we have a president who’s a bit rough around the edges. In other words, a normal New Yorker.
            On the other hand we have a president that ignored any law he didn’t like and signed laws stealing money and lands from US citizens.

            Socialists hate the first and still idolize the other.

            No accounting for taste.

  9. The un-mined coal will in all likelihood be extracted at a later date, if not for its energy content then as a petrochemical feedstock. It may be later this century or perhaps the next.

    • They’d better get at it by then. It’s pretty much impossible to operate a coal mine when the glacier above keeps moving.

  10. Coal has to compete, and that means after all the pollution treatments and cleanup afterwards. If we ever run low on gas, we can go back to using coal in more advanced burners.

    Meanwhile we here in Texas will sell you all the gas you can use. Just leave our fracking gas and oil wells alone.

    Soon maybe we will start dismantling all these stupid boondoggle wind turbines and you can have them as well. If you have an infestation of birds, especially the big protected ones, there wind turbines will take care of them fast. And the bats.

    (Many people do not realize that there are extensive gypsum cave systems out in West Texas. They are not necessarily long, but there are a lot of entrances to small caves, and bats love these. This same area has sturdy semi-consistent winds great for wind turbines. It very easy to disturb an entire nesting population of bats.)

  11. Where are the numbers on new gas fired electric generation plants opened? Where are the numbers on refurbished coal fired plants? Hmmmmm. OK.

  12. It is never wise to put all your energy eggs in one basket. We still need coal, if for no other reason than to help offset NGs tendency for price spikes at the drop of the hat. We also need it because gas pipelines are not everywhere, because they are a huge investment, and there can be (and usually are) the usual enviromaniacal hurdles. Whatever the reasons are for coal being phased out, and I don’t believe for one second that it is just the price drop in NG, it needs to be halted.

    • Also, a long pipe is potentially a target. You must plan for the worse!

      You never know what the next brainwashed progressive/PANTIFA will target.

      (I know electric lines can be targeted, too.)

  13. Natural gas prices are notoriously cyclical. The industry has always been characterized by boom and bust.

    With a nearly 60% decline in rigs drilling for gas and the very steep decline curves for frac’ced shale gas (on the order of 50% after a year), it’s just a matter of time ’til natural gas prices reflect an inevitable constriction of supply.

    Anybody who thinks gas prices are going to stay at current levels forever is someone who doesn’t know much about the industry.

  14. “Coal Plant Closures During Trump-Era Surpass Those During Obama’s Last Term, Data Shows” is the title of the post and it’s probably true ….. good. More efficient energy. Now exporting coal to those countries that still need it for affordable energy is another story.

  15. Coal plant advocate: “See, President Trump has removed the ban! Coal is competitive again!”

    Power company board of directors: “President Trump will be in office for four years. Eight at the outside. We’re talking about a minimum THIRTY year investment here. Can you guarantee that another fruitcake like Obama, or one that is even worse, won’t ever be in that office for the next thirty years?”

    The ban on incandescent light bulbs is dead and buried. How many production plants for those bulbs have opened?

    Business has to look at the risk factors. The risk of another Obama – or an AOC – is high. Short term thinking results, because the long-term can lead you into bankruptcy.

  16. Actually, it’s a tale of capitalism at work. If coal were 1/10th the price natural gas…

  17. Actually, no, it isn’t. They waged a war on coal. At the same time, we had NG prices going down, due to frakking, and a huge uptick in supplies. If there hadn’t been the war on coal, sure, NG would have expanded greatly, making inroads into coal, but coal wouldn’t have plummeted the way it did. Warmunists love to try to pretend that the war on coal never happened. More convenient for them.

  18. Natural Gas fracking has helped to doom coal plants along with the madness associated with the Global Warming scare and active anti-coal propaganda from the still-crazy-after-all-these-years environmental movements.

    Truthfully, natural gas should be a bridge over source until we can shift almost all electrical production to SMR nuclear

  19. Power companies are not investing in coal technology. Power companies are still being paid to invest in wind and solar and disincentivized for anything else. That, and the war against carbon has already been won on the public school indoctrination level.

  20. The real cause of thee shutdown of coal has not been discussed above or in any comments.
    It has been ten years since I retired from the electrical generation industry. However the BIG thing back then was the new EPA regulations on PM2.5. That is the “fines” or “particulate” matter in the emissions coming from the stack. Meeting these regulations from burning coal required new extensive, expensive modifications. More than twice as much as the previous changes to meet the PM10 requirements that they were still paying back to bond owners for. These basically made coal uneconomical. PERIOD. PM2.5 is the same filtration rate as Medically Certified N95 masks. Worse the average concentration of PM2.5 is normally greater than the EPA standards throughout the USA. Thus, in essence, every Coal fired power plant would become a massive HEPA air filter for the surrounding area. As a result I know of no plant that is making these modifications. They are actually shutting down 15-20 year old coal plants and replacing them with CCTG plants. Soon, the price of NG is going through the roof because of the heavy conversion in the NE states to NG CCTG generation, and the homes switching to Heat pumps or NG for heat – the reason for the NG pipelines heading to those states. Plan your retirement for a doubling or tripling of your electric power bill. Expanding numbers of EV’s will drive the price of electricity even higher.

    Can you survive with a full week with no electricity? Don’t want a $500 a month electric bill? Support and push for MORE Nuclear power. Renewables will NOT heat or cool homes in the future. Utilities are adding remote shut off switches on Heat pumps and AC units as a method to curtail over-demand as we speak.

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