The Economist Sounds Death Knell for the Internal Combustion Engine as Pathway Toward Carbon Emission Reductions Opens Wide

Earlier this month, The Economist prophetically declared that the “death of the internal combustion engine” is at hand. That the end for this inefficient fossil fuel burning monstrosity was “in sight.” And that, ultimately, “days were numbered” for a design that has so efficiently and so harmfully injected billions of tons of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere.

(Gigafactories like this one being built in Nevada and numerous others being built in Southeast Asia are helping to enable a combined electrical vehicle and grid based renewable power revolution. Note that the Tesla gigafactory is still far from complete even though it is currently producing 5 GWh of lithium batteries per year. Production by end 2018 is expected to hit 35 GWh per year and ultimate production could hit as high as 150 GWh per year.)

The Economist notes that performance gains for electrical vehicles are quickly outpacing those of internal combustion engine based vehicles. That “today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better.” It finds that electrical vehicles are simpler to manufacture, easier to maintain, and easier to improve than traditional vehicles. It points to the fact that transportation based emissions alone result in 53,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S. vs the 34,000 who die due to car related collisions. And it cites research showing that transferring existing vehicles to electrical vehicles would reduce vehicle based carbon emissions by 54 percent using present grid sourced electricity generation. But it also rightly notes that as the grid becomes more and more dominated by renewable based energy systems, vehicle-based emissions will fall further — eventually reaching zero on a grid fully supplied by sources like wind and solar. Finally, The Economist notes that when mated with automation and ride share, EVs have the potential to reduce the number of vehicles on the road upwards of 90 percent (in the most optimistic assessments).

EVs are disruptive in that they’re becoming increasingly easy for start-up companies to produce — even if they are more difficult for traditional auto manufacturers who have heavily invested in fossil fuel based vehicle production infrastructure and parts chains. The result is that numerous independent EV shops are cropping up and that countries and industries who were not traditionally auto manufacturers are capable of making serious new entries. Tesla was an industry leader in this regard. But many such businesses are emerging all over the world from the U.S. to China to Europe to India and beyond.

(Increasing predictions for rate of EV build through 2040. Image source: The Economist.)

Moreover, the predicted rate of EV adoption just keeps rising. The Economist points out that UBS expects that 14 percent of all new vehicles in 2025 will be electric. And while UBS is among the more optimistic prognosticators, even traditional oil companies like Exxon are being forced to acknowledge that EVs will take larger and larger portions of the auto market. In just one year, from 2016 to 2017, Bloomberg adjusted its expected rate of new EV sales in 2040 upward from 400 million to 520 million, OPEC from 50 million to 250 million, and Exxon from 80 million to 100 million (see graphic above).

Such large and expanding build rates will certainly enable more and more rapid rates of global carbon emissions reductions. Not just through direct carbon emissions removal by replacing ICE based vehicles with EVs. But also by enabling the mating of batteries with renewable energy systems around the world. Tesla, which is today producing 5 gigawatt hours of battery storage in 2017 from its Gigafactory in Nevada is now starting to do just that. In South Australia, Tesla is involved in mating wind energy with battery storage even as it pursues a similar project in New Zealand and following its completion of a solar and battery based storage system for Kauai Hawaii.

(The amount of batteries available for both EVs and grid based storage is set to rapidly expand. Note that Tesla recently announced that its Nevada Gigafactory could eventually produce 150 GWh per year of battery storage. Image source: The Economist.)

By 2018, rate of battery production at the Tesla plant will accelerate to 35 GWh per year with the plant ultimately able to achieve near 150 GWh per year (according to Musk). Similar very large battery production plants are being built in Europe and China, with a number likely also slated for India in the near future. And the batteries produced in these plants can be used either in EVs or as a massive and growing energy storage pool that’s already capable of directly replacing coal and gas plants now operating on electrical grids.

Such was the economic reality for the Liddel Coal Plant in New South Wales Australia when AGL Energy decided it was more economic to replace the plant with wind, solar and batteries than to continue to burn coal and gas as a baseload energy supply. And this decision was made under present economic realities. Now imagine what those economic realities will look like when the world is producing more than an order of magnitude more battery storage each year at much lower cost and as wind and solar costs continue to fall. In other words, the electrical vehicle revolution is enabling the renewable power revolution and vice versa. And both are bringing forward the time when global carbon emissions start to consistently drop off. To support the advancement of one is to support the advancement of both — to the larger overall benefit of more rapid global carbon emissions reductions and a quickening ability to address the very serious issue that is human-forced climate change.


The Death of the Internal Combustion Engine

After Electric Cars, What Will it Take For Batteries to Change the Face of Energy?

Tesla Could Triple Planned Battery Output of Gigafactory 1 to 150 GWh

China is About to Bury Elon Musk in Batteries

Tesla to Build World’s Largest Lithium Ion Battery Plant in South Australia

The Economist Announces Death of the ICE

Liddel Coal Plant in New South Wales Will be Replaced By Wind, Solar and Batteries

Tesla Powerpack Will Join Wind Turbine at New Zealand Salt Factory

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  1. PlazaRed

     /  August 21, 2017

    There is a high probability that with the evolution of batteries there will be the first global recycling system in place, whereby used products are not seen as scrap, or waste but raw material for the next generation of power units?

    What continues to amaze me is that with all the present oil powered vehicles on the road, there are no mass produced systems for converting these vehicles to electric. After all why bother to produce an entire vehicle when all that’s needed is to lift out the engine / gearbox unit and replace it with an electric one. The fuel tanks space could then become the battery compartment.
    If Ford or GM or Nissan put there experts to it, I am sure it could be a reality in a very short time?
    I am also sure that major manufactures could easily design an electrical system to power the oil based engine-less car?
    Any manufacturer with up to millions of the same vehicle models on the road could no doubt make the units to convert them to electric.
    We converted a 1960s Vauxhall car to run on Propane gas powered in about 4 hours back in 1972, Cost less than $20 in taps and bits, plus a full gas bottle! It was a bit down on power but very cheap to run on propane.

    The future is all down and into the hands of the inventors and the enthusiasts?

    • A lot of this is being driven by Chinese policy as well. In the west, there’s a big fight among the fossil fuel investors and a growing number of renewable energy investors. But we’ve also got a number of states involved as well here in the U.S. Just because Trump is in charge (mostly) at the federal level, doesn’t mean we can’t have positive initiatives coming out of state and city governments.

    • South Miami is an example. This from another poster from the last article:

      “South Miami this week became the first city outside of California to require all new homes to install solar panels on their roofs. Six cities in the Golden State began requiring solar to be installed on new homes over the past few years. But in Florida, where voters killed proposed solar restrictions last year, South Miami is now a pioneer.”

      • Mblanc

         /  August 22, 2017

        I think the economics of recycling/re-purposing these batteries going to be critical to making them as green as possible.

        Retro-fitting batteries (to create a pure EV out of an ICE car) is not the same scale of engineering task as changing fuel types on an ICE, and it is far too expensive to be realistic for ordinary cars (even when the batteries become relatively cheap). Having said that, I have seen quite a few high-value classics that have been electrified, but it will surely have cost more than the price of a modest new EV, which is going to perform better than any homebrew cross-breed anyway.

        • For pure EV makers which also have an eye toward the alternative energy venture, like Tesla, BYD etc, the batteries are held for re-purposing/recycling post-ownership. In many cases, these after market batteries end up in various energy storage applications. As for the vehicles themselves, most cars are already recycled for parts and materials. However, there is certainly space for this process to be more efficient. And as for a program that adds a battery to a traditional vehicle — as a pure conversion — I’m not too sure that much has yet been done in that regard. But an industry set up along those lines would certainly speed the transition at lower cost in investment to individuals and resources to society at large.

          The primary cost of recycling is in energy and labor. But it’s generally a lower cost than producing new products and can benefit positively from a larger energy transition as well.

  2. climatehawk1

     /  August 21, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

  3. Reply
  4. Loni

     /  August 22, 2017

    I’m used to seeing graphs like that coming out of NASA, Arctic News and such sites, it’s a pleasure to see those curves on something positive. Another positive trend is money leaving carbon based industries….., high and dry.

    Our next line of business is convincing everyone that the house is on fire, and that there’s no time to fight amongst ourselves, but for our common survival, and only we can do it.

  5. webej

     /  August 22, 2017

    There is some “bad” news for EV adoption, and that is Mazda’s announcement of a HCCI engine, the holy grail of ICE technology, promising a jump in fuel efficiency and clean exhaust. The dynamic of the economics of the competition between petrol (especially if the price starts falling due to lack of demand) and EV’s will be changing for some time to come. The political/regulatory regime could provide very meaningful in this regard.

    • A 25 percent gain in efficiency for the already very low efficiency ICE ain’t really that much to brag about. I wonder how much money Mazda dumped to squeeze that little bit of water out of the rock?

    • Mblanc

       /  August 22, 2017

      I noticed this, and it really isn’t the holy grail (or, at least, it isn’t any more), despite the hype. This system is only going to bring near-diesel levels of economy to a petrol engine, at best (a 20-30% improvement is quoted over the current petrol motors). Now that is a good and useful thing (particularly for urban air quality in the short-term), because we are seeing a lot of folks turning/transitioning to petrol/electric hybrids,

      Imho, Mazda are relatively poorly positioned for an EV future, which is why they have scrambled to team up with Toyota recently. They are making the best of a tricky position, and I expect to see that engine in the hybrid Prius, and EV Mazda’s powered by Toyota’s drivetrain, as a result.

      Given the first HCCI’s hit the market 2019, we might see wide spread adoption across the industry a few years later, which basically means that whilst it may help petrol/electric hybrids stay competitive for an extra few years, it is still going to the same way as the dinosaurs.

      Battery prices have fallen 80% in the last 10 years, as I recall, and no one (apart from maybe Musk) really believed that could happen, which is why you see manufacturers in such a tizzy. Some have ignored EV’s until it is nearly to late for them (Mazda), some have invested heavily in the Betamax of green cars, known as fuel cells (Toyota, Hyundai), and some thought diesels would be competitive for a good while yet (all of the german companies, apart from maybe BMW).

      Feel free to challenge any of this, I’m just an interested punter who think he knows enough to have an opinion, but there may be something I’ve not understood about this breakthrough, that makes it more important than it seems to me.

      • So why have HCCI in a plug in hybrid when you can use the already more efficient electric motor? I guess with a Prius Prime type platform, it might work out in the 2018 to 2025 timeframe. But after that, both Toyota and Mazda are going to need to be able to offer pure EVs to stay relevant in the game.

        IMO, if these ICE manufacturers had pushed HCCI during the early 2000s, it would have been a much bigger deal. But now it appears to be more like desperation on the part of Mazda — which kind of got caught flat footed due to a very narrow view of future market dynamics.

        • Mblanc

           /  August 23, 2017

          I’m all for EV’s as quickly as possible, and I’m really just making educated(ish) guesses about how fast they can do it, then accepting that hybrids are going to be part of the mix for a while yet.

          I agree it isn’t a big deal, too late for that, as you say.

          Interestingly, the hot petrol tech of 15 years ago was ‘lean burn’ engines, which run higher compression ratios (towards diesel levels) and are therefore more efficient. Of course, like diesels, they were a bit nasty when it come to emissions. Sounds familiar?

          Ironically, they weren’t very reliable, struggled with catalytic converters, and subsequently fell out of favour.

      • webej

         /  August 24, 2017

        Personally I feel that regulatory initiatives will make more of a difference (at least in Asia and Europe) than price scraping. In the USA I am less convinced. In the medium/longer term, improvements to battery technology and inherent advantages will quickly leave the ICE behind, except for some low electrical supply jursdictions (farms, mining, seismic exploration) — however they will be paying an increasingly large premium for something that will be increasingly rare.

  6. Greg

     /  August 22, 2017

    Try doing this with diesel (electrons rule):
    China has laid more than 12,400 miles of high-speed rail to date, with the intention of adding another 6,000 miles by 2020. According to the Associated Press, the country has spent $360 billion building the network of high-speed rail, creating the largest in the world.(After an accident in 2011)The trains will once again run at 350 km/h, with a maximum speed of 400 km/h (248 mph).
    Also, that’s a lot of cars and even airplanes not having to run.

    Link to article

    • So wish the US would invest in these kinds of projects. China’s leaving us in the dust on infrastructure and is prepping to really leave us in the dust on renewables. While republicans and republican stronghold states are trying to cling to the waning fate of oil, gas, and coal — and sabotaging renewables in the process — China is positioning itself to dominate these key industries. Without states like California and businessmen like Musk, we’d already be far, far behind. Too much conservatism in the U.S. has led to a serious lack of vision. And for this we are going to suffer — possibly ceding our position as a leader of innovation and technology.

      • Mblanc

         /  August 23, 2017

        I’ve been on the french TGV once, and it was an amazing trip, really smooth and sophisticated. It felt like the future.

        Some of the track ran next to the Autoroute, and we came past the road traffic at approximately twice their speed, which was nice.

        Having said that, high speed rail isn’t terribly efficient at the moment (compared to regular trains), or at least it wasn’t last time I looked. Maglev or the Hyperloop are potentially much cleaner

  7. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    New Electric Volkswagen Microbus spotted in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury
    August 21, 2017

      • eleggua

         /  August 22, 2017

        ‘Semi-Autonomous VW Electric Microbus, The I.D. Buzz, Makes Appearance In The Haight

        “…The six-seater car offers a spacious interior the size of a decent SUV while offering the more modest size of a compact cargo van — and it’s fully electric, with Level 3 autonomous control, meaning it can steer, stop, and accelerate on its own in certain conditions, but requires a driver in the driver’s seat.

        …the German carmaker has been taking full advantage of this California trip for some advance marketing materials — the original VW bus being as deeply associated as it is with hippies, and thus, San Francisco….
        …the ID Buzz was photographed parked next to a shiny orange vintage VW bus, obviously as part of a photo or video shoot with the Haight-Ashbury as a backdrop….

        …the steering wheel is some sort of newfangled version of a steering wheel, and the things has various bang and whistles, like what appears to be a bluetooth speaker stereo thing that pulls out like a boombox….
        …the front seats turn around so you can face people in the backseat, though presumably this is not an option while in motion — though this could be anticipating a time when the car goes fully autonomous…

        ID Buzz had previously been shown at auto shows in Detroit and Geneva, and following that, Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess says there was an outpouring of requests from customers to actually make this car.

        VW will also be making a commercial version called the ID CARGO, which will be a zero-emission delivery truck option for businesses. And going into production first will be the ID hatchback, arriving in 2020, and previously shown here by Road & Track last September. That car features the same ambient lights along the front, steering column, and semi-autonomous functions, as well as being all-electric with a 370-mile range on one charge — it’s basically their new-century answer to the Beetle, and they think it can go fully autonomous by 2025.”

      • eleggua

         /  August 22, 2017

        ‘Volkswagen’s I.D. Electric Concept Is Two Steps Forward
        VW’s “New Beetle,” the I.D. concept is just a show car at this point, but its minimalist design and promising range previews a better future.’
        Sept. 30, 2016

        “…An electric car based on a dedicated platform will drive much better than the previous e-Golf, which was basically a regular MQB-platform Golf converted into electric drive. The I.D. has a low center of gravity, a rear-mounted engine and a very tight turning radius. The concept also promises a range of 370 miles and a top speed of 99 mph, with these numbers only getting better as the battery packs get more efficient every year. Volkswagen also believes the car can go fully autonomous by 2025–hence the funky steering wheel mechanism.”

  8. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    ‘Electric VW Microbus Coming in 2022’ – Aug 19, 2017

    “VW just announced that it’s actually, really, seriously going to put an all-electric microbus, the I.D. Buzz, into production in 2022…

    The I.D. Buzz will ride on Volkswagen’s new modular electric-car platform (dubbed MEB), that made its debut at CES in January 2016. This platform, which is set to make its production-car debut in the I.D. hatchback in 2020, integrates its battery in the floorpan, just like a Tesla. The I.D. Buzz will also get optional all-wheel drive, with electric motors at the front and rear axles…”

  9. mikkel

     /  August 22, 2017

    I’m unsure if anyone has linked to this in prior posts, but Bill Joy (a computer/internet pioneer) claims to be supporting a company that has developed a whole new type of battery which combines the best aspects of traditional alkaline and renewables.

    I’ve been following the battery space for many years and this is the most interesting innovation that’s come out of it. Hopefully the promises ring true — it could super charge widescale adoption.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  August 22, 2017

      Excellent article, read about Ionic some time ago, think I even posted a link about their “Solid State” battery technology here
      There are so many battery technologies that can be possible economically with a solid electolyte

  10. Spike

     /  August 22, 2017

    Interesting and hopeful article here: “The report says the coal industry is declining particularly quickly in value as not only does it create 40% of global emissions but is now also being consistently out-priced by renewables. It also suggests the cost of owning an electric car will fall to the same level as petrol-powered vehicles next year, which could mean the oil industry will shortly follow in coal’s footsteps.”

    • Thanks for this Spike. Excellent context. After the spate of bankruptcies from 2014 to 2016, coal has had a brief 3-5 month breather. But that worst of all carbon emitters is likely to continue to take hits — even in the U.S., where the Trump Administration is doing everything it can to try to provide cover for bad carbon actors.

  11. wharf rat

     /  August 22, 2017

    Torrential rains fell overnight causing historic flooding in southern Kansas City and leading to water rescues and evacuations.

    As many as 9 inches of rain fell in some areas overnight. This is the third time in less than a month that heavy rains have dumped more than 6 inches of rain over many parts of the Kansas City area. For some areas, rainfall totals in the last 30 days range between 20 and 25 inches.

    Saying that many areas had flooding worse than the morning of July 27, the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill issued a Flash Flood Emergency for the entire Kansas City area.

    Indian Creek, which just saw record flooding last month, set a new record of 18.3 feet overnight. Early Tuesday firefighters were trying to rescue a woman stranded in a tree at 103rd Street and Wornall Road….

  12. Suzanne

     /  August 22, 2017

    Some spectacular images of Greenland I came across and wanted to share:

    And not to sound too cynical..but the announcement of sending more troops to Afghanistan after 16 years of continuous war there…is it just about terrorism…or about the One Trillion dollars of lithium discovered there?

    • Oh, for the Trump Administration (who is against everything renewable) I think we can confidently say that it’s about Terrorism. Moreso, it’s about Trump being steadily beaten back into a Lame Duck by a pure and absolute failure of leadership (moral and otherwise). Now he has to listen to the generals he’s appointed as opposed to acting like a complete and utter moron. Of course, we could debate whether or not the war in Afghanistan (the ultimate grind for US and NATO resources) is a wise decision. The generals don’t want to see another implosion like Iraq/Syria and there are probably a number of energy interests involved (Lithium being just one) as multiple conduits cross Afghanistan. But the anti-war movement has more than a hundred valid points as well. In my view, most decisions made RE Afghanistan will at least have some negative results.

      In any case, the potential mineral wealth of Afghanistan isn’t new news. People and businesses have been trying to tap Afghan mineral sources since the 70s to little avail. Given that the asset is unproven and inaccessible, it can hardly be considered strategic. More likely, this was a PR ploy by the Obama Administration to drum up support for a continued war on terrorist extremists who’ve caused so much trouble. For Trump to even mention Afghan Lithium would be a bitter irony considering his overall war on renewables. From Wired in 2010!!

      “One retired senior U.S official is calling the government’s mineral announcement “pretty silly,” Politico is reporting. “When I was living in Kabul in the early 1970s the [U.S. government], the Russians, the World Bank, the U.N. and others were all highly focused on the wide range of Afghan mineral deposits. Cheap ways of moving the ore to ocean ports has always been the limiting factor.”

      At least two American geologists have been advising the Pentagon on Afghanistan’s wealth of mineral resources for years. Bonita Chamberlin, a geologist who spent 25 years working in Afghanistan, “identified 91 minerals, metals and gems at 1,407 potential mining sites,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2001. In 1995, she even co-wrote a book, “Gemstones in Afghanistan,” on the topic. And Chamberlin worked directly with the Pentagon, after they commissioned her to report on sandstone and limestone caves mere weeks after 9/11.

      “I am quite surprised that the military is announcing this as some ‘new’ and ‘surprising” discovery,’ she told Danger Room in an e-mail. “This is NOT new. Perhaps this also hints at the real reason why we would be so intent on this war.””

      • Suzanne

         /  August 22, 2017

        Great explanation..Thanks Robert for clarifying some of the concerns I have been reading about since last night’s announcement.

  13. Suzanne

     /  August 22, 2017

    A lecture at Rutgers in March 2017… This talk by Lonnie G. Thompson, focuses on glaciers as recorders and early indicators of climate change. The ongoing widespread melting of high-elevation glaciers and ice caps, particularly in low to middle latitudes, provides strong evidence that a large scale, pervasive and in some cases, rapid change in Earth’s climate system is underway.

    At the 16:18 mark a chart worth seeing…showing cities use of electricity now and what it will look like by 2030…it is a stark reminder of why we must get renewables online as fast as possible.

  14. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    ‘Pennsylvania: first local hemp crop is ready for harvest’
    Aug. 19, 2017

    “…The hemp plant, like its sister the marijuana plant, is not a new crop to the country. In fact, according to the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council it has been around for thousands of years, but the plants are different…

    In 2014, the U.S. government passed the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed the growing of hemp for pilot programs or for research. Frederico said in July 2016, Pennsylvania enacted Act 92 which allowed the research of the plant for economic potential and what the plant could offer the commonwealth…

    …there are thousands of uses for the hemp plant and according to Erica McBride, of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry council some products are already being used.

    “Building materials, some plastic components, biofuels and food, the list goes on and on,” she explained during a seminar on Hemp’s potential in Pennsylvania during Penn State Ag Progress Days.

    She said in Europe, hemp is being used in materials for homes and car parts.

    According to the National Hemp Association, in 1941 Henry Ford created a plastic car which ran on hemp and other plant-based fuels and the fenders were made of hemp and other materials…

    …Basically, McBride said there are more uses for the plant than the industry knows. However, she said, industry leaders know one thing.

    “What we’re doing now to produce products is not sustainable,” McBride said. “We think this could make more products more sustainable and more environmentally friendly.”

    …right now, we are glad to have a program supported by the state and the (U.S. Department of Agriculture).”

  15. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    Distinguished Professor of Energy at University of California Dan Kammen on EVs,
    interviewed in December 2016.

  16. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    Dark Snow Field Season 2017

    Dark Snow Project is now in its 5th year of Citizen science and communication around vital issues of ice sheet melt, sea level rise, and a rapidly changing arctic. This year, Dark Snow is supporting a bold new arctic science initiative with remarkable renewable technology for wind powered ice research and transportation. Videographer Peter Sinclair, Dark Snow’s Media Director, was singled out this year as 2017 “Friend of the Planet”, by the National Center for Science Education. Help us take the next step in this critical time.

  17. Suzanne

     /  August 22, 2017

    Greenland: Land of ice and fire…at DW Environment on 8-17-17

    Experts say it is too early to draw firm conclusions linking the fire to climate change because no long-term data is available to put the blaze in context. However, unusually warm and dry conditions this year could have been a factor.
    “It’s unprecedented in the short 18-year observational record,” Jason Box, a climate scientist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told DW. “We also know that temperatures in Greenland are probably higher [than they have been over] the last 800 years.”

    Although the origin of the blaze is unclear – with lightening and a stray cigarette as possible suspects – what is clear is how it has been spreading across remote areas of grassland and low shrub.
    Greenland’s getting greener
    Greenland conjures images of white, frozen expanses. But Box says global warming means it’s getting greener all the time. “There’s a shorter snow-cover season, and that allows the plant life to expand,” he explained.

  18. 12volt dan

     /  August 22, 2017

    And in BC the fire situation isn’t getting any better either

  19. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017
  20. eleggua

     /  August 22, 2017

    ‘A coal country dispute over an alleged Trump promise unmet’
    Aug 22, 2017

    ” The Trump administration has rejected a coal industry push to win a rarely used emergency order protecting coal-fired power plants, a decision contrary to what one coal executive said the president personally promised him.

    The Energy Department says it considered issuing the order sought by companies seeking relief for plants it says are overburdened by environmental rules and market stresses. But the department ultimately ruled it was unnecessary, and the White House agreed, a spokeswoman said.

    The decision is a rare example of friction between the beleaguered coal industry and the president who has vowed to save it. It also highlights a pattern emerging as the administration crafts policy: The president’s bold declarations – both public and private – are not always carried through to implementation….”

    • The question is how far does Trump really want to go to prop up an industry that’s falling apart at the seams? It’s gone pretty far already in rolling back the clean power plan, trying to get DOE to produce anti-renewable policy papers (and apparently failing based on facts), and using Pruitt’s gutted EPA to promote fossil fuels. I suppose the administration could also order that individual coal plants be protected. But maybe that’s a step too far even for Trump. In any case, there’s got to be a little cognitive dissonance ongoing here as those scientists and researchers who work for DOE and EPA keep pushing back against overall bad policy that will ultimately result in lack of U.S. economic competitiveness as old fossil fuel industries are left behind by renewables in places like California and around the world. If you’re going to grow jobs in the U.S., it’s not going to be by protecting the old, wheezing coal plants or by trying to build a few more pipelines to fracked gas that no one really wants anymore. It’ll be by helping to push along things like Musk’s Gigafactory, by helping cities adapt to climate change, by working to build millions of solar roofs. That’s the kind of economic transformation that creates millions of jobs. Of course, Trump is going in the opposite direction and the U.S. is already starting to bleed jobs and competitiveness as a result.


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