Fossil Fuels and Trump’s Admin. Fools and a Glimpse of Hope

Sabrina Torres

Donald Trump gained pull from the mining industry to assist the “war against coal.” Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, filed a proposal to formally repeal the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan that was designed to hasted state utilities’ adoption of renewable energy, improve air quality and public health across the nation and finally, have the United States meet its commitment under the Paris climate accord of a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (Kormann). Pruitt stated that the C.P.P. would have “devastating effects” on the American people because it ignored states’ concerns and their longstanding and important partnerships. These ‘relationships’ being the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by Trump’s administration to private coal companies for popular appeal.

   The Environmental Protection Agency can no longer stop the decline of coal with the current figures in place that believe climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Pruitt and and Trump are completely ignoring market signals that the coal industry cannot last sustainably or efficiently, simply to keep stable relationships with fossil-fuel million-to-billionaires who put them into office. This ignorance can lead to disastrous consequences for climate and the global economy. Luckily, investors in the private market have recognized the long-term instability in high-carbon industries.

    Mark Campanale, a financier and environmentalist, reported in the Carbon Tracker INitiative project, that there was a significant problem with the way fossil-fuel stocks were prices. He started to identify that there is a finite “carbon budget,” meaning, if humans wish to avoid Climate Change induced catastrophes, then humans must limit emissions so the world’s average temperature rises no more than two degrees celsius; which is the agreed target in the Paris agreement (Kormann). Campanale looked at data on the planet’s known fossil-fuel reserves and calculated how much carbon would be released if all of it was burned. His calculations resulted in 2.8 trillion tons being released which is five times greater than Earth’s carbon budget for the next forty years. He warns that up to eighty per cent of the remaining oil, gas and coal, or what he references as “unburnable carbon,” needs to stay in the ground if humans wish to continue living on this planet. The environment will continue without humans, however humans cannot continue without the environment.coal

    Of course, fossil-fuel companies and investors deem Campanale’s project and stance as fruitless. So long as there is a repeal on C.P.P. and a lingering false sense of security in high-carbon industries, the Trump administration believes they are ‘winning.” However, the concept of the Carbon Tracker Initiative is advancing elsewhere.The energy sector is continuing to move in a climate-friendly direction. There has been a high point of investors interested in recognizing climate risks. Norway, a country well-known for their green initiatives, declared that it would require some of its partners to disclose “what influence their lending practices have on carbon emissions.” For those who question the effects of the workers within the mining industry, there are opportunities for them with green advancements.

   With a decline in the coal industry due to cheaper alternatives such as natural gas,  (Cardwell) what are these miners to do as they continue to be laid off by the thousands? Luckily these workers possess promising skills in the industry that is ever expanding: renewable energy. Thankfully some businesses within this expansive movement are aware of the culture surrounding the coal lifestyle on families and communities so they have began offering information sessions for previous coal workers to understand renewable energy and learn that this too is something they can be proud of. Some players in this emerging industry is encouraging those who are willing to transition with incentives to utilize the skills the workers attain previously working with fossil fuels. The “catch” being that these individuals may have to be willing to relocate to areas in the country that produce the highest levels of wind or receive the most sun. So these programs are showing to appeal more to younger workers with post secondary education who are motivated to follow through and more willing and able to relocate. (Reily). In Wyoming, a major coal-producing area, a wind turbine manufacturer is offering training to former miners. In Appalachia, Coalfield Development is attempting to revitalize the region’s economy with workshops in solar installation and woodworking. The program aims to reclaim mines and remodel dilapidated buildings.

  Although Trump’s administration pushed hard on appealing to the coal industry, they cannot complete with the current facts that hundreds of thousands of workers have been terminated, the burst of natural gas interest, and the general consumers’ preference to cleaner energy (Riquier). The administration focused on profiting coal industry owners, not the workers sacrificing their lives. Luckily, the industry of renewable energy is displaying interest in introducing and building positive relationships with workers willing to transition their skills. There is opportunity to move beyond the false promises this administration created on coal.

 

Works Cited

Cardwell, Diane. “What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Sept. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/business/energy-environment/coal-alternative-energy-jobs.html.

Kormann, Carolyn. “There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 Oct. 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/theres-a-dangerous-bubble-in-the-fossil-fuel-economy-and-the-trump-administration-is-making-it-worse.

Reilly, Michael. “The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and Retraining Workers for Solar Isn’t Easy.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 11 Aug. 2016, http://www.technologyreview.com/s/602151/can-we-really-retrain-coal-workers-for-jobs-in-solar/.

Reilly, Michael. “The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and Retraining Workers for Solar Isn’t Easy.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 11 Aug. 2016, http://www.technologyreview.com/s/602151/can-we-really-retrain-coal-workers-for-jobs-in-solar/.

Riquier, Andrea. “Even as Trump Focuses on Coal Miners, Renewable Energy Jobs Are Booming.” MarketWatch, 30 June 2017, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/paris-agreement-or-not-solar-employment-looking-brighter-than-coal-2017-06-02.

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