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Crony Central Planning Posing as National Security — Trump Tries to Foist Rising Coal Costs on the American People

Ever since Trump came to office he’s been doing his best to save a polluting, harmful, and increasingly expensive energy source — coal. Why he would do this is rather nonsensical. Coal employs less and less people each year. It pumps toxins into the air and water. And it is a primary enabler of human-caused climate change — which among other things is putting the nation’s cities under threat from rising seas, worsening storms, and more severe wildfires.

Trump and Perry’s various campaigns to save coal bear a similar connotative ring as such moral winners as ‘help Sauron,’ benefits to ‘promote asthma in kids,’ and ‘save smog.’

(The failing coal industry is trying to use its influence over the Trump Administration to force you to prop it up. This stinks of crony capitalism turned Soviet-style central planning.)

But despite the nonsense, harm and immorality, the Trump Administration has actively courted bankrupt coal executives like Bob Murray to write policy that would throw a number of lifelines to an economically failing and pysically dangerous energy source. The most recent related attempt being the claim that coal is necessary for U.S. national security and that economically failing coal plants represent a ‘grid emergency in the making.’ A claim that was just this week decried by Exelon CEO Chris Cane.

In truth what’s really happening is coal can’t compete economically with wind and solar. And that the Trump Administration, through Perry, is asking you and me to pay an extra 12 billion dollars a year in utility bills to support failing, polluting coal plants. In truth, they’re doing this for no reason whatsoever other than to promote the interests of their political backers — in the form of a direct hand-out. And they are doing it in a way that will harm both U.S. competitiveness, hurt the present rate of renewable energy adoption, raise your utility bills all in one.

(Due to higher costs, coal and even gas are being utilized less and less in favor of lower priced and less polluting renewables. Image source: Think Progress and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.)

Such Soviet-style central planning and forced dirty energy use has generated cries of outrage from a broad coalition of energy industry leaders, environmentalists, and, ironically, conservatives groups that promote free market systems. So the Trump Administration is likely to find itself in court — defending spurious claims of ‘national security,’ increased costs to rate payers, and nonsensical government handouts to failing coal.

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No Excuse Not To Transition: Denmark Wind at 5 Cents Per Kilowatt Hour

Running the world on renewable energy.

If you listen to the fossil fuel cheerleaders, the possibility is more remote than ever. Earlier this month, a few oil and natural gas fracking boosters in the EU derided the high cost of energy in Europe. They claimed that shifting to a policy of climate and groundwater threatening fracking could free them from both energy price shock and dependence on threatening overseas powers like Russia.

Unfortunately, such, unattached-to-reality, fossil fuel boosting by former industry professionals turned politician isn’t new. For these wayward ministers had missed recent developments in nearby Denmark providing a real long-term solution to both high energy prices and dependence on foreign suppliers, and all without the added hassle of threatening Europe’s water supplies or pushing the world one step closer to climate change game over.

Cheaper Than Other Forms of Energy

GE Wind Turbine with Battery Back-up

(GE wind turbine with battery backup in the turbine housing stores power for times of peak demand or when the wind is not blowing. Image source: Smart Planet.)

For according to a recent report from the government of Denmark, new wind power coming online in 2016 will cost half that of energy now provided from current coal and natural gas based power plants. The net price would be equal to 5.4 cents (US) per kilowatt hour.

Rasmus Petersen, Danish Minister for Energy, Climate and Buildings was far more sanguine than a number of his wayward peers regarding renewable’s prospects:

“Wind power today is cheaper than other forms of energy, not least because of a big commitment and professionalism in the field. This is true both for researchers, companies and politicians.”

“We need a long-term and stable energy policy to ensure that renewable energy, both today and in the future is the obvious choice.”

Not included in Rasmus’ statement is the amount of monetary damage and loss of life that would inevitably be prevented by shifting the energy base to renewables and away from climatologically harmful fossil fuels. Damage to crops, damage from extreme weather, loss of coastal infrastructure, loss of fisheries, loss of whole ecologies, and increasing risks of a runaway global warming feedback in the Arctic are all reduced or prevented under such a shift. Though there is currently no price mechanism to add these monumental costs inherent to fossil fuel use to the current energy marketplace, the effects are ongoing and born by all of broader society.

It’s a kind of tax fossil fuel use foists on us all. A tax that includes potential loss of life as an ultimate levy. And with each passing year, the pain and harm from that wreckage-inducing tax increases.

In addition to broadly preventing such harms, an ever-increasing energy independence comes with a majority reliance on renewables as base energy.

EU Still Pushing for Renewables Expansion

Despite the rather loud voices of a couple of fossil fuel cheerleaders, the EU is pressing hard for increasing renewable energy generation. In total, the EU commission is now recommending that member states, on aggregate, set a 30 percent renewable energy production target and a 40% emissions reduction goal. This would more than double the 14.1 % renewable energy use achieved throughout the EU during 2012 and rising through 2014.

The EU’s action comes on the back of a flurry of new reports showing that 100% reliance on renewable energy for electricity and base fuel is now possible given current technology and existing markets. These studies found complete replacement of fossil fuel infrastructure, including transportation, to be possible given current resources and technology for all new energy by 2020-2030 and for all energy by around 2050. Meanwhile, many of these studies found that costs for replacement were surprisingly low, especially when efficiency and the elimination of unnecessary consumption were added in.

Under the current situation of amplifying damages caused by human-induced climate change, such policies provide a means of escape from escalating harm and of a prevention of the worst effects of warming-related climate and biosphere shocks. Governments around the world should take a good, hard look at such policies going forward as the economic excuses for perpetrating such harm by continuing fossil fuel exploitation, given the availability of 5 cent per kilowatt wind energy, grow quite thin indeed.

Links:

Wind Power Undercuts Fossil Fuels to Become Cheapest in Denmark

Onshore Wind Now Cheapest Form of Electricity in Denmark

Providing All Global Energy With Wind, Water and Solar Power

Smart Planet

Fossil Fuel Cheerleaders Push ‘Shale Option’

 

 

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