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Take A Look At The So Called Obama “War On Coal”

US Coal Exports Doubled Under Obama

Another Right Wing – Republican – Trump Big Lie

Source: US Energy Information A

Source: US Energy Information Administration

There many errors, omissions and distortions in the flood of news coverage of the Trump Executive Order seeking rollback of the Obama Administration’s climate change programs.

Almost all of that coverage is based on speculation by various “experts”. Very little of the coverage relies on actual data or science of any sort.

Virtually all of the coverage greatly minimizes the real world energy, environmental and climate impacts of Trump’s policy, while greatly exaggerating both the Obama climate policy and the ability of so called free market forces to reduce or even offset the damage of the Trump policy.

With all those general conclusions in mind, and because Trump appeared with coal miners, the first issue I’ll briefly mention is the false premise of an Obama “war on coal” and the issue of coal production and coal exports (see US Energy Information Administration analysis of coal export data).

About 10% of US coal production is exported.

As you can see from the above chart, from 2009 – 2012, under Obama, coal exports DOUBLED, from 60 to 120 million tons per year. Since 2012, they’ve declined to 2009 levels.

I have not seen these coal export data mentioned in any news report.

The greenhouse gas emissions from those coal exports are not considered in the US emissions inventory.

Worse, the Trump order is designed to make sure that the public’s ability to understand the impacts and climate effects of the Trump policy and fossil fuels are masked. (see especially Section 3)

Because the Trump Order will eliminate federal regulatory restrictions of coal production and export, exports are likely to increase.

The US EIA data on coal production are more complex, but despite reductions during the Obama administration, they remain huge and are projected to increase slightly (see EIA data) Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 2.38.52 PM

The chart on the left shows almost 1 for 1 replacement of coal by natural gas. The chart of the right shows the corresponding decline in US production, with an upward forecast.

Regardless, none of this data can be described as reflecting ¬†policy of a “war on coal”.

To their credit, the media have done a good job in exposing Trump’s Big Lie that he can restore coal mining jobs, which have been declining for decades as a result of technology and lower cost natural gas.

For a superb historical and cultural analysis of the coal industry’s rape of the landscape and destruction of communities of Appalachia, read the 1963 classic “Night Comes to the Cumberlands” by Henry Caudill.

More to follow.

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