Archive

ShareThis Page
Commentary: Trump is still pushing for coal, even as it’s killing us | TribLIVE.com
Featured Commentary

Commentary: Trump is still pushing for coal, even as it’s killing us

The Los Angeles Times
| Monday, December 10, 2018 11:57 a.m
5267355125232c9df22fbb88414a86f0dc8191eee564
FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, plumes of smoke rise from Europe’s largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland. After several years of little growth, global emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide surged in 2018 with the largest jump in seven years, discouraged scientists announced Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The Trump administration’s new rules to make it easier for coal-fired power plants to come on line is at once dangerous, and silly. Dangerous because coal is choking the planet; silly because the market is already quickly moving beyond coal — by far the most expensive and most polluting of our energy sources.

So why does Trump stick with coal, even though power companies are abandoning it for cheaper and cleaner alternatives? Ignorance is one possible answer — he may not understand what is happening in the energy markets.

But politics is the more likely explanation. Trump campaigned on bringing back coal, and while even coal miners know that’s not going to happen, this rollback of sensible regulations (likely to get a court challenge) allows Trump to brag that he did what he said he would do.

Even if it is killing us.

The real danger here is that the longer Trump and his pro-fossil fuel cronies go down this path, the harder it will be for the U.S. to pursue the ambitious policies necessary to mitigate the global climate damage we and other polluting nations have caused.

And there’s no small amount of irony to the timing of this new coal rule. The announcement came as the United Nations convenes an international meeting in Poland (which heavily relies on coal) to map out a path forward to reduce carbon emissions (it’s not going so well). Trump, for his part, made the ludicrous decision to send a delegation to extol the virtues of fossil fuels, which is like setting up a beer-tasting table at a meeting of the Anti-Saloon League.

Despite the pledge by the worlds’ nations three years ago in Paris to work together to combat rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere, carbon levels are still increasing. Market forces don’t seem to be working — lower gas prices have led U.S. consumers to opt more for SUVs and pickup trucks rather than cleaner small cars and (more expensive) electric and hybrid vehicles.

We’re even driving more miles, which becomes even more problematic as Trump backs off on raising fuel-economy standards.

Meanwhile, China has resumed building coal-fired power plants at home and in the Third World. Political chaos in the European Union — from Brexit to the rise of nationalism in response to migration from the Middle East and Africa — has distracted the third largest producer of greenhouse gases at a time when (see the U.S. and China above) the world desperately needs someone to lead.

If you need an indicator of exactly how difficult this challenge is, look no further than Vincent Picard, an ardent French environmentalist who nevertheless found himself as part of the recent “yellow vest” movement protesting increased fuel taxes that would have reduced consumption.

“I am conscious that we have reached the end of fossil fuels and that we have to modify our habits,” Picard, who lives 35 minutes from the closest train station, told the New York Times. But, he added, “You have to continue to live.”

Despite no end of scientific analysis to tie it all together, some governments are not rising to the challenge, other governments are rejecting the challenge, and American consumers and employers are adhering to old purchasing and commuting practices. Meanwhile the seas rise, storms get stronger and more frequent, and wildfires in the West seem to be more frequent than rain.

We’re already past the reckoning point. The question is, how much reckoning will — and can — we endure?

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.