Why scrapping the Clean Power Plan will not help the coal industry Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump signs H.J. Res. 38, disapproving the rule submitted by the US Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Department of Interior's Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, "addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites," according to the summary of the resolution. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

As expected, President Donald Trump scrapped the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan that was designed to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from electricity generators.

“C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says?” President Trump said to coal miners, according to The New York Times. “You’re going back to work.”

The Los Angeles Times in an editorial described it as an “ignorant, head-in-the-sand approach” to climate change. “Regardless of what Trump does, the future lies in renewable energy sources,” the Times observed.

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President Trump and other opponents are hoping the repeal of the Clean Power Plan will revive the coal industry; however, there are many reasons to believe that the beleaguered coal industry will not see much from the changes.

The first reason is that the attempt to undo the Clean Power Plan will be challenged in court. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has vowed a lawsuit and believes that the EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to establish limits for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. He points to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. If it goes to court, the Trump administration would be trying to overturn case law.

However, Congress can simply pass legislation repealing the Clean Power Act. But, it is unlikely that it could get 60 votes in the Senate to pass a filibuster.

Even if the Clean Power Plan is taken off the books, it may already be too late for the coal industry, as even some coal CEOs acknowledge. Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray had some words for President Trump, who hopes to bring coal miners back to work. “I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” Murray told The Guardian. “He can’t bring them back.”


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The truth is the EPA did not kill the coal industry in this country, market forces did. The fracking boom flooded the energy markets with cheaper and cleaner natural gas, while at the same time, solar steadily became a cheaper energy source. The cleaner energy mix is why carbon dioxide levels have stayed steady for the past three years. American coal also cannot compete with cheaper coal from Australia and Indonesia in the Asian markets.


Finally, some states are going to look to reduce emissions regardless of what Trump does. So with all of those factors in consideration, coal miners likely won’t be heading back to work soon, despite Trump’s bluster.

Kevin Boyd About the author:
Kevin Boyd is a general correspondent for The Hayride and an associate policy analyst at the R Street Institute. His work has been featured at IJ Review, The National Interest, Real Clear Policy, and the Washington Examiner. You can follow him on Twitter @kevinboyd1984
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