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Can a President Trump deliver on his promise to revitalize the US coal industry?

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Report summary

Donald Trump aims to take advantage of Democrat party antipathy to coal by courting miners with promises to revitalise the industry.  He will find this difficult to do for both technical and political reasons. Coal consumption is being hurt by the combination of coal mine productivity improvement, low cost alternatives to coal such as natural gas, rapidly maturing renewable technologies and more efficient use of coal. Added environmental pressures, reflected in a multitude of government programs and initiatives, have further worsened coal’s performance.  Trump cannot counter the technical advances industry has made that lower coal consumption. Significant new demand in unlikely. Coal will remain under significant pressure. Trump can, however, take political steps that will stabilize the industry and create a more orderly environment for the long transition from coal.

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    Can a President Trump deliver on his promise to revitalize the US coal industry?

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Table of contents

    • Coal mine productivity is improving
    • Alternatives to coal are cost-competitive
    • It takes less energy to make a unit of power and technology helps us use less energy
    • Revisiting and altering the 'endangerment finding'
    • Ending all administration work on non-final environmental rules affecting coal
    • Rolling back other existing coal-impacting EPA regulations
    • Phasing out subsidies for renewable energy
    • Refusing to ratify the COP21 agreement
    • Ending the moratorium on federal coal leasing
    • Reducing federal severance, royalties and tax rates
    • Transferring environmental policy dominance back to the states
    • Ending the government review of self-bonding practices
  • Political realities may also limit a President Trump's ability to help the coal industry

Tables and charts

This report includes 6 images and tables including:

Images

  • US coal production and nat gas price (Mst, $/mmBtu)
  • US coal employment, productivity and coal intensity (000s, stpd, ktoe/US $ Bn)
  • Levelized cost of electricity: solar PV w/o investment tax credit and coal without carbon cost ($/MWh)
  • Levelized cost of electricity for wind w/o production tax credit and coal without carbon cost($/MWh)
  • Levelized cost of electricity: solar PV w/ investment tax credit and coal w/ carbon cost ($/MWh)
  • Levelized cost of electricity for wind w/ production tax credit and coal w/ carbon cost($/MWh)

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