There are factors that will make it difficult for incoming U.S. President Donald Trump to breathe life back into America’s struggling coal industry, or end it for booming renewables. But Greentech Media says he can still give it his best shot.
It’s probably true that Trump can’t restore King Coal to its energy throne, Greentech notes, but there are “a slew of ways” he can slow its decline. Even if Trump, as some analysts expect, leaves in place renewable subsidies that are popular with a Republican Congress, his administration could still:
- Modify the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide “endangerment finding” that provides a legal underpinning for President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and plans to tax CO2
- Spike any new environmental rules affecting coal that are in development but not yet final, or subject to court challenges
- Review existing regulations and eliminate any that his administration sees as imposing “any undue cost” on business
- End the Obama administration’s moratorium on leasing federal land for coal mining and, with the help of a Republican Congress, reduce existing federal tax and royalty rates for mining publicly-owned coal
- Allow mining companies to continue to “self-bond” in order to guarantee that they will clean up their environmental impacts. The practice amounts to accepting a company’s good intentions—and has frequently proven inadequate to actual mine site rehabilitation costs. The Obama administration had been reviewing the practice.
And Greentech hasn’t ruled out that Trump will, in fact, try to zero out tax subsidies that Congress renewed less than a year ago for solar, wind, and other renewable energy forms. If that happens, “the U.S. solar market would be in for a dramatic reversal. Installations could fall by roughly half.”