President Donald on coal: ‘Yes.’ His chief economic adviser: ‘No.’

EnergyIs there a sane mind in the White House, one who believes the resurgence of coal promised by President Donald is a fiction concocted to garner November votes? Or who at least believes the coal industry is dead on its feet?

Even after his election, the president continued to promise coal renewal. In an address at the Environmental Protection Agency in March, he said:

We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy. We will produce American coal to power American industry. [emphasis added]

President Donald has taken steps to unleash coal. He’s rolled back clean-air policies and regulations of previous administrations. He’s taken aim at President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the goal of killing it. He has ordered the lifting of a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands.

But so many reasons exist to deny coal its presidentially desired comeback. S&R has detailed these reasons in the past.

An industry analysis forecasts a grim future for coal in 2017:

Coal production declining by as much as 40 million tons. Coal prices failing to increase enough to benefit shareholder or stimulate new investment. Coal exports remaining weak. Little or no gain from regulatory relief as capital continues its flight from coal. Increasingly dim employment prospects.

Three of the largest coal companies in the United States — Contura, Arch Coal, and Peabody — are in various stages of bankruptcy proceedings. Industry employment has fallen from 150,000 jobs in 1990 to 64,000 in 2015.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says those jobs aren’t returning.

Coal’s value as an investment will remain clouded, however, by market competition from natural gas, wind, and solar, and gains in energy efficiency. Potential benefits from regulatory relief that has been promised by the new administration will provide little or no gain. And the long-term prognosis for the coal industry in every region from now through 2050 is poor, as more coal-fired power plants will close and as utilities will continue to allocate capital away from coal. Promises to create more coal jobs will not be kept — indeed the industry will continue to cut payrolls.

These losses will be related in part to the coal industry’s long-term business model of producing more coal with fewer workers. Job losses will be exacerbated further by the current low coal-price environment and by the inability of the industry and its component companies to adapt to a smaller customer base. [emphasis added]

The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, isn’t buying the president’s coal con, either.

Politicians who ignore these market realities and make promises to coal communities they can’t keep are engaged in something worse than a con. They are telling those communities, in effect: The best hope they have, and that their children have, is to be trapped in a dying industry that will poison them. [emphasis added]

Now, it appears, there’s a sane mind in the White House who disagrees with President Donald’s coal dream. He would be the chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn. From CNN:

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. … “If you think about how much solar and how much wind power we’ve created in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly,” Cohn said.

Given the premium President Donald places on loyalty, should be we expect to hear soon Cohn’s been fired and a pro-coal chief economic adviser will be forthcoming?

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