Trump is leading the way on coal

By Katelin Cook

In 2015, the United States and 195 other nations signed the Paris Climate Treaty aimed at capping global warming. Since then, the agreement has come under fire for setting an unattainable mandate and for failing to include the proper tools for tracking progress on a country-by-country level. Adherence to this treaty and similar efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency will cost American jobs and reverse efforts to develop and implement clean fossil fuel technology. Many consider the Paris Climate Treaty the capstone of former President Obama’s war on coal.

Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of clean coal and job growth. Recently, he made good on his promise. President Trump’s executive order is the kind of energy policy the American people have been waiting for; one that supports U.S. businesses, creates new American jobs, and reduces the carbon footprint of coal plants.

President Trump understands the importance of coal to U.S. economic growth and energy security. Although the solar and wind industries have grown significantly in recent years, greater dependence on renewable energy will not be enough to cap global warming to the standards established at the Paris conference. With President Trump in the White House, it is time for the United States to take the lead in clean-coal technology.

In the late 19th century, coal powered America’s rapid industrial growth. Today, this resource is the foundation for dramatic economic growth in nations like China and India. Both of these nations have put significant time and energy into the research and development of high-efficiency, low-emissions technology (HELE). India has commissioned 51 HELE plants and China had 46 such plants in operation by the time the United States had even one. If the United States continues to drag its feet, these global competitors will corner the market on critical HELE technology.

Coal will play a big part in America’s future. Forty percent of the world’s power comes from this resource. If the goal is environmental protection, clean coal technology and carbon capture and storage (CCS) techniques must be a top priority. Coal is one of the most abundant resources in the world and nations across the globe will continue to power their economies with it for hundreds of years yet to come. Thus, investing in clean coal is the most common sense way to reduce harmful emissions.

The Colorado coal industry took a major hit in 2016 thanks to former president Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Prior to 2016, coal supplied 60 percent of the state’s electricity and two-thirds of Colorado’s coal was exported out of state. Miners in rural communities could count on the industry for high-paying jobs in the mines.

Today, Colorado mines are cutting up to 45 percent of their employees. Thanks to EPA regulations, 11 plants have either closed or converted to alternative fuels. According to the 2016 report of the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety, the state’s active mines cut production anywhere from 14 to 96 percent last year. This is the devastating reality facing Colorado coal mining.

President Trump made a pledge to U.S. coal during his campaign and now he’s following through on the commitment. He now has the power to bolster the American economy, safeguard jobs, and take the international lead in the development and use of clean coal technology. It is time to bring an end to the war on coal, and President Trump is showing he is the man who can make it happen.

Katelin Cook is the economic development coordinator for Rio Blanco County. She penned his column on behalf of Rio Blanco County commissioners.


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