All new coal plants will be limited to 1,100 tons of carbon dioxide, the EPA will announce today according to the New York Times.
Right now they release a an average of 1,800 tons.
The usual GOP howls of a “war on coal” have already been issued in advance of the formal announcement.
But you may be surprised to learn that the coal industry remains as robust as ever, even in the face of natural gas’ onslaught.
Consider: according to the EIA…
- U.S. coal consumption for the first half of the year was up 8.7% over 1H2012.
- The year-end total will be 5.8% higher than 2012.
- Coal for electricity use will have climbed 6.4% YOY.
- The agency projects another YOY gain of 1.7% for 2014.
- Coal production for 1H2013 was down 4.2%, and the year will finish with a slight overall decline — but production will rebound 3.1% in 2014.
And guess what the EIA projects will be America’s greatest source of electricity generation by 2040?
Yup, the king:
It’s not clear whether the EIA took the new standards into consideration when they released their latest projections.
But it almost doesn’t matter.
The proposed regs only apply to new coal plants.
And through August, only two of those went online this year.
Last year we only built eight.
Coal plants represent just one component of the broader industry.
If there’s a war on, we’re not seeing it in coal mining.
Check out payrolls — eight out of the last 10 months, and four out of the last five, have seen coal mining jobs growth:
And even as the administration announces the new rules, it is also expanding its energy loan guarantee program, setting aside as much as $US8 billion to research new technologies to help both new plants meet the proposed standards and retrofit old plants to limit their emissions.
If there’s a mortal threat to coal, it’s not from President Obama.
Nor is it from natural gas, which indeed has seen robust growth — 55 new plants using it as a fuel source came online this year.
If there’s a threat to coal, it’s from Americans using less electricity. And that’s a threat to all power sources.
The EIA says total U.S. electricity generation will grow by just 0.2% in 2013 and by just 0.4% in 2014.
Here’s the jobs chart for the electricity industry. It doesn’t look good:
We’ve already seen five nuclear plants, including “legendary” ones like Vermont Yankee and San Diego’s San Onofre, go down this year. No one is suggesting there’s a war on nuclear.
We know this administration likes to take a gradual approach to everything.
These new regulations are just another instance.