Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order rolling back former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The CPP halted construction on new coal-fired power plants while closing hundreds of plants already in existence.
Luke Popvich is with the National Mining Association which works to build support for legislation that promotes coal and mineral mining. He said that repealing the CPP keeps coal as an affordable energy source for consumers.
“The executive order removes a rule imposed by the Obama administration primarily on the states that would have further forced into retirement a lot of the remaining coal power plants which are some of the most affordable sources of energy we’ve had in the country for decades,” Popovich said. “If you took coal off the table then we’d be putting a lot of our proverbial gold in the saddle bags of just the gas industry.”
Rolling back coal regulations was a campaign promise of the President, claiming that it would revive jobs in the coal industry. Popovich said that while there may not be as many coal jobs now as there were in decades past, the industry is still a viable one.
He added that coal provides a reliable option for consumers who could see rising prices for other energy sources.
“I think there’s little doubt that natural gas prices are going to go up. As demand for natural gas grows and as export markets open up for gas, you will see natural gas prices go up. We have, of course, nuclear power but nuclear power is not growing at all. In fact, it’s shrinking and only about 18, 19 percent of the market,” he said. “We certainly have strong growth in renewables, but for consumers it’s a very distant prospect.”
Several weeks ago, federal officials approved a new coal mine lease in Utah that had been grandfathered in before the CPP took effect.