Coal companies still own Trump and his conservative bubbas


Rick Perry [L] and Robert Murray [R]

❝ Scott Edelman’s pictures show Robert Murray, who donated $300,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, give Perry an “action plan.” Murray’s company has previously lobbied the Trump administration to end new federal public health protections for greenhouse gas emissions and smog pollution, loosen mine safety rules, and cut the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency by “at least half.”

Perry and Murray shook hands, hugged and agreed to get it done. Then they kept everything that happened that day a secret.

If this raises a few flags for you, then you understand the predicament I was in when I was still employed at DOE in March 2017. I thought about it and decided to release the photos and the story to the public, after which I was placed on leave and then fired. My personal laptop was seized (though it was recently returned to me), and I was subjected to intimidation tactics from DOE staff.

❝ Some of the policies Murray’s company has advocated for have been faithfully executed without research, thoughtful public comment periods or policy input from public health professionals. President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate that cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions globally, and his administration gave notice of repealing the landmark Clean Power Plan, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants nationwide. The Trump administration attempted to delay, but was eventually forced to proceed due to lawsuits, clean air protections against smog pollution. The President also nominated a coal company consultant to oversee national mine safety and began cutting EPA scientists and other career agency staffers in droves.

Who expects different from Trump – or the Republicans in charge of Congress?

“Old” Energy buys into “New” Energy

❝ A decade ago, EON SE and RWE AG were two of Germany’s most valuable companies and their businesses were roughly similar: they generated power (much of it from coal and nuclear), ran energy networks and sold electricity to end consumers.

The complex asset swap and share issue they announced over the weekend — including the divvying up of RWE-controlled Innogy SE’s assets — is the last death knell for that all-encompassing model. EON will become a company focused purely on energy networks and retail customers, while RWE will combine the two companies’ renewables businesses.

❝ If EON and RWE can prevail, other utilities may follow. Utility investors would then be able to decide what future they believe in: a world where solar and wind energy is cheap and so what matters are cash-generating networks and end-customers (EON). Or one in which the whole economy is electrified and the electricity generator is king (RWE). At least we’d have a choice.

Either road, we consumers, citizens of Planet Earth, stand a better chance for an affordable, long and healthful life.

Old King Coal doesn’t stand a chance

❝ Despite plummeting wholesale electricity prices in some areas of the US as well as essentially flat electricity demand in recent years, natural gas and renewable capacity is still being built…

❝ In 2016, the Energy Information Agency notes, natural gas-fired electric generation in the US increased by 3.4 percent; non-hydroelectric renewables like wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal increased by 15.7 percent; and conventional hydroelectric power grew by 7.5 percent. Coal electric generation, on the other hand, fell by 8.4 percent in 2016.

RTFA for details. Still, unless you believe the rant of fools like Trump, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Wind Power Set a New Green Energy Record in Europe Last Week


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❝ On October 28, wind power sources from 28 countries in the EU set a new record: they provided 24.6% of total electricity — enough to power 197 million European households.

Though the spike in power was likely due to the powerful storm that passed over Europe that weekend, with 153.7 Gigawatts of wind power capacity installed in the EU (including the largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent) Europe is on its way to becoming a major force for renewable energy…

❝ …Offshore wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear energy in the UK, and countries across Europe receive significant portions of energy from wind. Denmark regularly gets more than 100 percent of its energy from wind (and hit 109% last weekend), while wind frequently provides Germany more than half of its electricity. Additionally, Scotland recently made news in opening the first floating wind farm, which should provide power to 10,000 homes.

Additionally, with new wind farms being constructed offshore, these high records are likely just the beginning of a new norm for European energy. Denmark’s Ørsted Energy is currently working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm for the UK, which will have the capacity of 1200 Megawatts when it opens in 2020—and they’re under contract to build what will become the next largest offshore wind farm, also in the UK, with a planned capacity of 1386 MW when it opens in 2022.

Gee, Republicans say the United States is incapable of reaching similar goals. They’re already happy with second-rate…from the White House to Congress.

Being led by third-rate minds makes it easier, I guess.

Trump & Republican Dirty Fuel Pimps Hand Over $20 Billion-a-Year of Taxpayer Subsidies

❝ Millions of Americans may be struggling to pay routine household bills, but still US taxpayers are handing out a whopping $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies a year.

This is the major finding of a new report Dirty Energy Dominance: Dependent on Denial published by Oil Change International today.

Subsidies are where the government gives financial incentives to artificially lower the cost of production or consumption of fossil fuels to encourage more drilling or oil, gas, or coal use.

❝ …The irony gets worse. There is something morally wrong with a billionaire-led Administration handing out money to rich executives, when this money could help America’s poorest and most at need.

The cost of the subsidies to American taxpayers is equivalent to the projected 2018 budget cuts from Trump’s proposals to slash 10 public programs and services, including supports for America’s most vulnerable children and families…

❝ The US spent on average $2.5 billion annually subsidizing the exploration of new fossil fuel resources in 2015 and 2016, even though the science clearly shows that fossil fuel expansion must stop immediately in order to meet internationally recognized climate goals.

Government giveaways in the form of permanent tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry – one of which is over a century old – are seven times larger than those to the renewable energy sector.

So, the Clown Show in Congress continues to cut subsidies to homeowners trying to save on energy costs with solar and other green alternatives – while perpetuating the taxpayer handout to oil and coal companies. Mail me a penny postcard when the crew in DC grows enough backbone to stand on their own and oppose the profit-hungry crooks they really work for.

Lessons from Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables

❝ Seventy-seven-year-old Heinz Spahn—whose blue eyes are both twinkling and stern — vividly recalls his younger days. The Zollverein coal mine, where he worked in the area of Essen, Germany, was so clogged with coal dust, he remembers, that people would stir up a black cloud whenever they moved. “It was no pony farm,” he says — using the sardonic German phrase to describe the harsh conditions: The roar of machines was at a constant 110 decibels, and the men were nicknamed waschbar, or “raccoons,” for the black smudges that permanently adorned their faces.

Today, the scene at Zollverein is very different. Inside the coal washery where Spahn once worked—the largest building in the Zollverein mining complex — the air is clean, and its up to 8,000 miners have been replaced by one-and-a-half million tourists annually. The whole complex is now a UNESCO world heritage site: Spahn, who worked here as a fusion welder until the mine shut down on December 23, 1986, is employed as a guide to teach tourists about its history. “I know this building in and out. I know every screw,” he says fondly.

Zollverein is a symbol of Germany’s transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy — a program called the Energiewende that aims to have 80 percent of the country’s energy generated from renewables by 2050. That program has transformed Germany into a global poster child for green energy. But what does the transition mean for residents of Essen and the rest of the Ruhr region — the former industrial coal belt—whose lives and livelihoods have been dramatically altered by the reduced demand for coal? The answer to that could hold some useful lessons for those undergoing similar transitions elsewhere…

The trade unions are stronger in Germany than in the United States. Progressive politicians are often voted into office – locally and nationally – in Germany. There has been legitimate, strong pressure exerted upon government and corporations alike in Germany. RTFA and see what a difference that has made in the transition away from the most polluting energy sources.

The World’s Largest Coal Company Is Shutting Down 37 Mines


Channi Anand

❝ Coal India — a government-backed coal company – is reportedly closing 37 of its “unviable” mines in the next year to cut back on losses.

India is primed for an energy revolution. The country’s ongoing economic growth has been powered by fossil fuels in the past, making it one of the top five largest energy consumers in the world. But it has also invested heavily in renewables, and the cost of solar power is now cheaper than ever. In some instances, villages in India have avoided coal-powered electricity altogether, and “leapfrogged” straight to solar power…

❝ India’s energy situation is changing so fast that even expert predictions about its switch to renewables are wildly off: A study from last year claimed India would be building more than 300 coal plants in the next 10 years, but experts said the data was already outdated by the time the report was published, and that India would be moving toward renewables instead.

The decline of Coal India, which produces 80 percent of the country’s domestic coal output, is more evidence that we are collectively moving away from fossil fuels as cleaner, renewable technologies become more widely available. This reality is important to grasp in every country where coal used to be king. Even as Donald Trump promises coal jobs, let’s remember that those jobs aren’t likely to come back.

❝ And for countries like India, where companies like Coal India employ more than 300,000 people, training people to work in more viable energy markets will be increasingly important to provide sustainable livelihoods. Luckily, it looks like the solar industry will have some job openings.

The same is true in the United States on a smaller scale. US mines are highly automated compared to India. Still, the possibilities for new jobs are at least as strong – if we only had state and federal governments in place that cared more about retraining workers for new jobs than guaranteeing profits for out-of-date lobbyists and corporate CEOs.

Global Energy Demand Stumbles Again — Coal Is Dead


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❝ Global energy demand continued its sluggish rise last year as growth in Chinese consumption fell to its lowest in nearly two decades, while renewables flourished, BP said in a report…

Slower demand growth helped stall the acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions for a third year to levels not seen since the 1980s, but emissions remained well above targets set out globally under the 2015 Paris accord on climate change.

❝ Coal’s share in the energy mix declined to its lowest since 2004 at around 28 percent, while production of the highly polluting fossil fuel saw its largest ever annual drop at 6.2 percent…

❝ China’s energy demand growth in 2015 and 2016, 1.2 and 1.3 percent respectively, although still the strongest in the world, marked its lowest over a two-year period since 1997-98…

❝ Cheaper and abundant gas supplies in the United States and China’s drive to switch to cleaner feedstock for its power plants led to a 1.7 percent drop in demand for coal, the most pollutant fossil fuel.

“It feels to me like we are seeing a decisive break in coal relative to the past,” BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale said…

❝ Renewables such as solar and wind power were the fastest-growing source of energy, rising by 12 percent and accounting for a third of the overall growth in demand…China, meanwhile, overtook the United States for the first time as the largest producer of renewable power.

The slowing growth in energy demand, the shift to cleaner fuels and energy efficiency meant carbon emissions grew by 0.1 percent last year, similar to the prior two years, making it the lowest three-year average for emissions growth since 1981-83.

Dullards like Trump, his peers, his followers, are fighting a vain and wasteful retreat – while blathering all the while about returning 19th Century glory to rustbelt industry. The only exportable segment of our traditional industrial base – capital goods – was sold off by conglomerate profiteers decades ago. The mostly foreign-based companies who bought up the companies whose machines make other machines – are rolling in profits while the backwards-looking crowd whines. Perish the thought they should notice it was the American one-percenters who sold them out.

Here’s a link to the whole report.