Trump’s State of the Union

Yesterday in Washington. I just want to quote the President on this:

We have ENDED the war on American Energy – and we have ENDED the War on CLEAN COAL. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

Here’s a wholly unbiased reaction to the whole thing:

And here’s one of our serious newspapers doing some almost-real-time fact-checking. (I was up for this part and ended up listening in for a few minutes on The Guardian’s live feed. The sadness of my life need not detain anyone else.)

Fact check: coal, energy and cars

We have ended the war on American energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

Thanks to a natural gas boom over the last 15 years, the US has become a global energy power to rival oil states around the world. This success of natural gas – cheaper, more accessible and comparatively cleaner than coal – has marginalized the coal industry, limiting Trump’s efforts to save the industry.

As automation has spread across many US industries, coal jobs and production declined for decades, collapsing 33% from 2011 to 2016, according to studies by Columbia University and the Department of Energy, largely due to competition from natural gas and a shift away from coal in Asia.

Trump has tried, however, to resurrect coal’s fading fortunes. With Republicans in Congress he rescinded a rule that tried to keep coal mining waste out of waterways; he ordered a revocation of Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which put strict new regulations on mining and favored renewable energies; and he lifted a ban on mining leases on federal land. And in 2017, coal exports hugely increased compared to 2016, according to the Energy Information Association. Still, there has only been about 1% growth in coal jobs over the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The phrase “clean coal,” coined by the coal industry and briefly taken up by Obama, is itself controversial. The term applies not to any coal itself but power plants that remove heavy metal pollutants in the burning process and bury carbon emissions in the earth. Even such “clean” coal-fired plants still emit large levels of pollutants, however.

In Detroit, I halted government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013, but the US auto industry was one of the first American sectors to bounce back from the 2008 financial crisis, enough so that Barak Obama was touting its revival in 2010.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us.

Chrysler is not moving any plant from Mexico; it is keeping the Mexican factory and investing in a Michigan one. Toyota-Mazda have planned for a $1.6bn factory in Alabama, to open in several years. Several of the plans Trump is touting have been in development for several years and the US has steadily increased jobs since 2010, according to the same Bureau of Labor Statistics figures the president earlier cited.

How fair is all that?

Isn’t it remarkable that we have a US President who speaks this way about energy and about coal? That surely is unprecedented since 1988? And how does it fit with a tweet from a UK climate sceptic this month that I drew attention to recently?

What should we be saying about clean coal? And everything else climate- or energy-related said by POTUS last night? (I may have missed vast swathes. I quickly moved onto other things.)

This is my first post not called “Ongoing ignorance of experts n” for quite a while. My ignorance of what matters seems to grow. All the questions therefore are genuine ones.

50 thoughts on “Trump’s State of the Union

  1. Full text of speech here.

    As far as I can see, nothing about climate at all, and only the little bit you’ve already quoted about energy.
    I predict that the usual suspects will soon be foaming at the mouth over this omission.

    There’s a lot of the toe-curling personal stories that Americans seem to love. But some bits are interesting. I had not realised the extent of the tax cuts, for example. I don’t recall that being discussed in the news media here – they seem more obsessed with the trivia of his tweets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bingo.
    Bernie Sanders: “I dont understand how a president of the US can give a SOTU speech and not mention climate change”
    Huffpo: “Trump Touts ‘Beautiful, Clean Coal’ And Fails To Link Disasters To Climate Change”

    And from the other side, Daily Caller, “Trump Delivered The First SOTU In 8 Years To Not Mention Global Warming”.

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  3. Thanks Paul. I had a hunch this was the juicy bit as far as Cliscep’s primary interests are concerned. And I thought the Guardian ‘fact check’ didn’t look too bad. It didn’t even use the term ‘denier’.

    One can take the lack of mention of climate in a number of ways. Trump announced the US was pulling out of the Paris accord in his first year. He boasted about a lot else yesterday, some of it no doubt imaginary, or at least stretching the point. Why didn’t he boast about pulling out of Paris?

    However, as someone who has defined scepticism as being convinced that climate really isn’t that important I have to admit I’m happier with the absence than Mr Sanders. And the change of tone on energy and clean coal I have to admit I find rather wonderful.

    Any agreement or disagreement on that, or anything else in the speech, or Trump’s climate/energy stance, or achievements, or otherwise, is fair game below.

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  4. Richard, interestingly, it turns out that the Democrats didn’t mention climate change either, in their response to the Trump SOTU speech.

    Maybe your view that “climate really isn’t that important” is a more widely held one than we might think!

    James D:

    ‘Climate change’ just officially ceased being an important issue in U.S. politics.
    President Trump didn’t mention it in his State of the Union address. But nor, much to the disgust of environmentalists – did the Democrats in their rebuttals.

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  5. “Even such “clean” coal-fired plants still emit large levels of pollutants, however.”

    Go to the link in this sentence and it reveals the sentence to be a lie. Modern coal fired power plants fitted with SO2/NO2 scrubbers and heavy metal filters are vastly cleaner than traditional coal fired power plants, which the article linked to talks about. Clean coal is not a contradiction if one is talking about modern coal fired power stations where pollution control measures are in place. Not all power stations in the US of course conform to these standards and they should be phased out.

    The point is, “clean coal” is coal burning with stringent controls of toxic emissions. CO2 is not toxic. Therefore you can add clean coal to the energy mix and ignore, as Trump appears to be doing, the EPA’s endangerment finding on CO2, classifying it as a ‘pollutant’. The only reason not to utilise cheap, readily available coal, in preference to gas, was because burning gas released less CO2 compared to coal. Trump is ending this ‘war on clean coal’. Whether the coal industry makes a comeback or not depends largely on the market, whether coal mining can compete with gas drilling and fracking, but its use won’t be restricted by global warming zealots while Trump remains president.

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  6. Paul Matthews, are you determining the supposed extent of the tax cuts from the speech? Really?

    Richard Drake, what do you understand by the term clean coal? Do you think it refers to how clean coal dust gets when it’s dump in a river? Or maybe once emissions regulations are withdrawn the coal is somehow cleaner?

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  7. Indeed. That’s a lot of questions.

    US coal reserves are much larger than natural gas and oil reserves. Because of their abundance, if regulatory burdens are eased (and mitigated), it is very hard to beat coal in the long run.

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  8. Shub : Yeah, thanks. Can’t disagree with that. But what’s your opinion about
    a) whether it is right for these regulatory burdens to be eased and mitigated?
    b) how far the Trump administration has yet done so?

    It would be wrong to try and read Jonathan Jones’ mind but his two stage process, neatly expressed to you on 2nd January, could be based on his assessment
    a) of the real risks of CO2 emissions from that much coal, or
    b) of the political realities, given that many have been persuaded of such risks.

    Should we be critics of Trump on this, even mild ones, or should we simply rejoice, as Josh depicted in November 16? I wasn’t sure …

    I think there’s still a place for legitimate debate on this, despite the gratitude even a Trump sceptic like myself feels for the man’s willingness to break taboos where they should never have existed in the first place.

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  9. I’m not a fan of coal, clean or otherwise. It is the fossil fuel with the most bad environmental consequences, everything from miner deaths and landscape obliteration, via pollution emissions through to waste disposal. Clean coal technologies do work but are expensive, lower EROEI, and need to be vigorously maintained (which invariably over time they are not). They are not 100% effective and although emissions are substantially lower than coal powered stations without any emissions controls, they emit pollutants substantially greater than from gas powered stations.

    I am more in favour of combusting coal underground and using the heat and gas generated.

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  10. I may have a rather philosophical understanding/take on coal. Coal is the only historically proven energy source that can provide uninterrupted, abundant energy to vast swathes of a population with the quickest turnaround (because it is the cheapest, usually). For those without electricity access, pursuing sources that may be superior in other respects (like nuclear energy) but would yield benefits later, would simply not work. This is because the poor cannot afford to wait entire generations to see a change in status, they need to see tangible benefits within their lifetimes for their children to take the next step forward. When such ‘poor’ become ‘rich’ (i.e, gain access to electricity), the progression toward other forms of electricity generation would happen naturally. Pollution mitigation and access to other forms of energy both start with use of coal, first. I don’t think developed economies particularly care about the specific form of energy they use, as long as it is uninterrupted, high-quality and affordable. With the above, it is easy to see why natural gas performed exceedingly well in the US. There has been a long-term slow increase in preference over coal since the early 90s and there is little coal companies can do, as long as undue regulatory burdens are not placed on them. But up until then, the US produced ~50 percent of its electricity from coal and produced close to 10 times more electricity than any developing country. The only country to mimic the pattern is China, which is now at US 1990 total electricity levels today. The climb is within a generation and it has been via the use of coal.

    In world data (and the world is mainly poor people), the trend is simply obvious:

    What the above tells me is what I believe, that there is something in the nature of coal that provides for civilizational metabolism like no other source can. Why mess with it? Let coal flourish and cleanness will automatically follow

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  11. RICHARD DRAKE (31 Jan 18 at 1:29 pm)

    He boasted about a lot else yesterday, some of it no doubt imaginary, or at least stretching the point. Why didn’t he boast about pulling out of Paris?

    Because he doesn’t understand the arguments, and doesn’t care. Furthermore, he knows his electors don’t care or understand either.
    DRAKE’S TWEET:

    Can Trump be trusted when the going gets tough?

    No, for the same reasons. He has this going for him though: most climate believers don’t understand the arguments either. Look at the comments under any article on any activist warmist blog. Bernie Sanders and the Democrats are now in opposition. If they want to argue climate change in the media, they’ll have to do it against a Trump supporter. They’ll lose.

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  12. SHUB’s brilliant comment above is not philosophical, as he says, but socio-historical, in the best tradition of social and economic history. Of course it’s not nice that Chinese miners still die in tragic accidents in the Long March towards a decent life for their compatriots. But, as he explains, there seem to be profound laws of economic development which determine the natural order of economic development. A Chinese miner who risks his life and health for the good of his family via a higher salary, and the good of his country via faster economic development is making a rational choice.
    There may be different rational choices to be made by us at a different level of development – nuclear energy for example. Though nuclear power provided by the EDF, owned by the government of an economic competitor, seems the very definition of insanity.

    The desertion of the coal miners by the intellectual left in the great confrontation with Thatcher in 1984 is one of the great mysteries of British history. Since the Guardian-reading academics who write the history books were largely responsible for the desertion, we’re unlikely to see an honest account on the bestseller list for a generation. But even in the pages of the Guardian one could glean some morsels of reality: the wanton destruction of our mining engineering industry, in which we were world leaders; the closure of a deep mine in Leicestershire with enough coal to keep the country in energy for six centuries..

    Thatcher could do that because she had a Report by an Expert which said that coal was expensive (and would remain so for the next six centuries – well, no, he didn’t exactly say that, but in the heat of the moment decisions were made..) Now there are apps which produce pie charts and graphs to order, which means that any graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies can churn out an Expert Report with a click.

    End of senile reminiscing. Frack on, I say.

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  13. “How fair is all that?”

    Sounds about right.

    “Isn’t it remarkable that we have a US President who speaks this way about energy and about coal? “

    Yes.

    “That surely is unprecedented since 1988? “

    Yes.

    “And how does it fit with a tweet from a UK climate sceptic this month that I drew attention to recently?”

    Jones’ tweet doesn’t mention coal, so it has no relevance.

    “What should we be saying about clean coal? “

    Clean coal is just marketing speak for how to prevent coal firms from losing their shirts to superior technology. There’s nothing clean about coal. If coal folks had their way (as they used to) there’d still be heavy metals spewing from coal stacks in addition to streams and rivers polluted by coal dust. They don’t give a fig about pollution, quite apart from whether CO2 is or is not a pollutant. That much should be crystal clear to anyone and everyone.

    “And everything else climate- or energy-related said by POTUS last night?”

    Haven’t heard it so I can’t comment.

    There you are, your questions answered.

    [snip]

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  14. Paul, the Dems didn’t mention climate change because Trump himself has become the issue. To them he is a red flag and they have become wild bulls (used to be donkeys, but stubbornness still holds). I don’t know how intentional is Trump’s persona, but he has offended them in so many ways that particular issues are blurred. His New York in your face confidence makes him immune to their disapproval and they fumble for leverage on him. While the uproar goes on, he takes care of business.

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  15. RON CLUTZ (31 Jan 18 at 10:24 pm)

    His New York in your face confidence makes him immune to their disapproval and they fumble for leverage on him.

    I watched a large part of the address on CNN. They did an instant poll and tried desperately to explain a 70% approval of Trump’s speech as being because only Trump fans watched it. Then their top Democrat spokesman produced the ultimate knockdown argument: he doesn’t mean what he says, so what he says has no importance.

    The reaction here in Europe has been that Trump seemed more “reasonable” than expected. But in dismissing the idea of negotiation in Korea, he seemed to be signalling military action. And in supporting the “Iranian people” in their struggle against their democratically elected government he seemed to be pursuing a policy of regime change. The US lost a war in Syria (population 18 million) and seems ready to start a war against Iran (population 77 million). This is not reasonable. It is a recipe for world war.

    The left has no leverage on Trump because they are obsessed with the idea of global warming. The death of a million Koreans or Iranians won’t raise the temperature of the planet 1.5°C, therefore it’s not important to the opposition which should normally be opposing this dysfunctional president. Let’s hope sensible people can surmount their left-right differences and propose reasonable policies which will avoid catastrophe. I get the impression that that is happening in America. Not so much here in Europe.

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  16. Geoff, I suggest that in the UK in the 1980s educated folks were getting uncomfortable about sending men down mine shafts to hew out coal and acquire all those associated respiratory diseases. A developing economy is happy to develop and forget about the externalities – the pollution, the deaths, the waste heaps. There is a cut over point – probably well-documented and named in the literature – where people get concerned about, probably in this order – pollution, unsightly waste, deaths. And society acquiesces in social destruction.

    The nenvironmental Kuznets curve seems to cover this ground but it is not a causal analysis

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  17. Coal mining was shut down because it had been subsidized for years or decades and because the coal unions could shut down the economy. Gas and imported coal were cheaper.

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  18. MiaB suggest replacing “And society acquiesces in social destruction.” with “And society acquiesces and replaces coal with North Sea natural gas.

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  19. Ron, yes, I think it’s called “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

    I think he does wind them up deliberately. Here is one little example. In the speech as quoted here he talks of

    “We have ended the war on American energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal.”

    But what he actually said was (see Huffpo link in 2nd comment).

    “We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

    He inserted the word “beautiful”, deviating from the printed text.

    Yes as you say, Trump himself has become the issue, rather than any of his policies. As I said above, his tax cuts have been hardly discussed in the UK media, but they seem obsessed over what he tweeted or retweeted.

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  20. Trump is right. Coal is beautiful. It’s a black, shiny, 70 million year old package of stored ancient solar energy, fossilised plant power which has dragged the world out of darkness and crushing poverty into the light. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and beautiful coal has an ugly side; it’s dirty and it’s toxic when burnt. But guess what, that beautiful fossilised high density package of ancient sunlight which enabled the industrial revolution and the advance of technology, affording people the luxury of having the time to concentrate on acquiring yet more knowledge and developing newer and better technologies rather than just staying alive and keeping their bellies full, made possible its own transformation from dirty, smelly and toxic to something much more resembling ‘clean’.

    But an ugly, unclean ideology emerged which decreed that the non-toxic plant fertilising CO2 which was also released upon burning coal was somehow ‘dangerous’ and toxic to the planet’s climate. The cheerleaders of this ideology didn’t need direct evidence; they just used climate models and upside-down Tiljander deposits to prove that it was so. Thus it came to pass that the CO2 released from an age when atmospheric CO2 was more abundant and contributed to an explosion of plant and animal life, was labelled ‘dangerous’ in today’s world where atmospheric CO2 concentration is only 140ppm above the threshold where plant life dies.Therefore a cheap, efficient form of energy generation which has served us well for centuries had to be closed down and replaced with (un)clean and inefficient ‘renewable’ energy, forcing people back into poverty because of unaffordable energy prices. Also, poverty-stricken undeveloped African nations (but not the industrially competitive Chinese or Indians) were to be deprived of the civilising benefits of coal for their own good and the good of humanity and the planet.

    Coal is beautiful and clean and is ugly, dirty and toxic. But it doesn’t lie.

    I don’t think the same can be said for climate change science and the ‘clean green energy revolution’ which has grown up in its wake.

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  21. Jaime: A beautiful summary. 🙂

    All: Sorry for the dilatory nature of my moderation and responses. And for giving the wrong Trump quote – the written, not the more interesting, off-the-cuff spoken version – at the beginning. But this has been a fine discussion. I will start to respond to odds and ends this evening. As if you needed me. 🙂

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  22. Coal was both wonderful and horrendous. It fuelled the industrial revolution and all its benefits but created loathsome dirty neighbourhoods and lungs. Once oil, and especially natural gas technologies had developed, the externalities of coal became intolerable and unnecessary. It was predictable that in the USA, even with the removal of many environmental controls, coal use has increased by only about 1% in Trump’s first year. Who wants coal to be used in their neighbourhoods when there are cheaper and less polluting alternatives? If you wish to burn coal, do it underground.

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  23. Let me begin with Charles, who’s admitted in a comment kept from your tender eyes by the horrible and hated moderators that he has used more than four pseudonyms in his determined bid to er, become our best friend and win us over to his point of view. (I can’t prove that the artist formerly known as Len, and even things before that, is making a true claim, or even that he’s a he, not a she or a they, but it’s fun mental model to have of the silliness.)

    “Isn’t it remarkable that we have a US President who speaks this way about energy and about coal? “

    Yes.

    It is remarkable. That was the preeminent reaction I had. That Trump had made it to the one year point without being impeached and that here he was, with this his key statement – only statement, as it turned out – on energy and climate. I do find that both incredible and a cause for celebration.

    Shub and Jaime have given deep and moving defences of the coal seam of this Trumpian rock but the wider statement about energy is even more striking and significant. The war is over, without any mention of climate. That is why I couldn’t quite resonate with Geoff here:

    RICHARD DRAKE (31 Jan 18 at 1:29 pm)

    He boasted about a lot else yesterday, some of it no doubt imaginary, or at least stretching the point. Why didn’t he boast about pulling out of Paris?

    Because he doesn’t understand the arguments, and doesn’t care. Furthermore, he knows his electors don’t care or understand either.

    But I aver that he and they understand what is important: energy. And he understands that climate isn’t important enough to be mentioned as any kind of qualification. He is spot on. It’s all the understanding we need in a leader and we owe him our gratitude.

    Geoff goes on:

    DRAKE’S TWEET:

    Can Trump be trusted when the going gets tough?

    No, for the same reasons. He has this going for him though: most climate believers don’t understand the arguments either. Look at the comments under any article on any activist warmist blog. Bernie Sanders and the Democrats are now in opposition. If they want to argue climate change in the media, they’ll have to do it against a Trump supporter. They’ll lose.

    This is a brilliant observation, another profound reason for hopefulness. But here endeth my first response to the responses.

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  24. Back to Paul in his third comment:

    Richard, interestingly, it turns out that the Democrats didn’t mention climate change either, in their response to the Trump SOTU speech.

    Maybe your view that “climate really isn’t that important” is a more widely held one than we might think!

    That would be nice. Paul goes on to quote James Delingpole:

    ‘Climate change’ just officially ceased being an important issue in U.S. politics.
    President Trump didn’t mention it in his State of the Union address. But nor, much to the disgust of environmentalists – did the Democrats in their rebuttals.

    Earlier today I happened upon Ben Shapiro’s commentary on what he calls the Democrat Meltdown concerning the SOTU – both the official response from a Kennedy (that’s original) and Bernie Sanders. (I was actually interested in Shapiro on What Will Happen if the Nunes memo is released, where he is similarly disparaging about Republican overreaction, and noticed this in the sidebar.)

    Shapiro is significant as the smart young right-wing lawyer who defected from Steve Bannon and Breitbart because of their courting of the ‘alt-right’ before the US election. Despite being a principled critic of Trump he’s gone on to be the high-growth phenomenon of the young conservative or libertarian scene online, in contrast to Bannon’s protege Milo, whose star has risen and fallen fairly rapidly, rather like his mentor. James Delingpole of course is still writing for Breitbart in London.

    I think, given the uncertainties in the Democrat leadership situation, it’s a bit premature to declare that climate change has “officially ceased being an important issue in U.S. politics”. Where I think Shapiro is credible is that neither Kennedy nor Sanders have hit the notes needed to make up the ground they have to against Trump. The CBS tweet that “8 in 10 Americans who watched Pres. Trump’s #SOTU address felt he was trying to unite the country, rather than divide it” is I think very striking, even allowing for many of his most committed opponents not being able to bring themselves to watch it. I’m with Ron and Paul on Trump Derangement Syndrome. The Democrats have to rise above this level, especially with what’s now coming down the pipe due to the excellent work of Michael Horowitz. Thanks to Steve McIntyre for putting me onto Sidney Powell there. Brave lady.

    This segment may seem to be straying far off topic for climate scepticism. I can only plead that I enjoyed Geoff Chambers doing the same. I didn’t listen to any of those parts of Trump’s SOTU. For whatever reason, I don’t fear him that much on the foreign policy front. My take is probably significantly different from Geoff and from Steve McIntyre there. It doesn’t mean I can’t learn from both of them. We are inevitably multiply-coloured on all such matters. Even on climate and energy the differences between us are much more interesting to me than the non-debate with consensus enforcement – because the so-called consensus is so dumb. This thread was a nice opportunity to show that.

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  25. Shub
    Perhaps you are forgetting legacy environmental effects. Everything from the expected costs of coal mine drainage (waters in the interconnected mines of the Yorkshire coalfield will eventually spill, potentially simultaneously contaminating all rivers in Yorkshire unless treated in perpetuity at an enormous cost (decontamination of minewaters from a single metal mine in Cornwall costs ~£1million/year)) to the making safe of spoil and fly-ash heaps. Then there are present day effects – look up the incidence of black lung disease in US coal miners per year. It will surprise you.
    If we turn to countries where environmental controls were poor or non-existent. Take most of eastern Europe. The absolute worst I ever saw was in the Ural Mountains where coal mining waste was dumped on river banks. Leaching iron sulphides created an acidified river which when this flowed through a limestone gorge reacted with it leaving a bright red band at the base of the gorge deposited during spring floods. The contaminated river flowed hundreds of miles transporting metals.
    Coal is wonderful, it is a cheap form of energy and a source of many chemicals (by products of gasification) but only if you ignore its many adverse environmental effects. Offsetting those makes coal expensive. Trump is attempting to stimulate coal use in part by removing restraints intended to protect the environment and the health of people. Coal companies can now legally contaminate water courses. Unbelievable.

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  26. Alan says:

    “Coal companies can now legally contaminate water courses. Unbelievable.”

    This sounds bad, so I thought I’d look into it. As always, the actual situation is more nuanced and complex.

    What Obama’s “Stream Protection Rule” Actually Does

    “The final rule got published on December 19, 2016 — just before Obama left office. And while it’s almost ludicrously complex, updating hundreds of older regulations, it basically puts a couple of key restrictions in place for coal companies seeking permits to expand or start new mines in the future:

    First, a company that wants to open a surface or underground mine needs to avoid causing damage to the “hydrologic balance” of waterways outside of its permit area. The rule goes into excruciating detail on what these definitions mean, but it’s basically a much stricter limit on dumping waste and debris in surrounding ecosystems.

    Second, companies and regulators have to do a baseline assessment of what nearby ecosystems look like before any new mining begins. They then have to monitor affected streams during mining, and the company has to develop a plan for restoring damaged waterways to something close to their natural state after mining is done.

    This sounds basic, but the rule-making process involved numerous debates over best how to define “hydrologic balance,” how exactly to monitor waterways, how to deal with the variety of coal industry practices out there, and so on.

    In the end, environmentalists weren’t thrilled with the rule — many groups didn’t think it went far enough to restrict the dumping of debris, and they don’t believe coal companies can restore damaged streams fully to their prior state after mining. But on balance, they thought the rule a vast improvement over the status quo. An outside analysis estimated the rule would improve water quality in 263 miles of streams each year between now and 2040.

    “The rule doesn’t address all the problems with the most destructive mining practices,” says Thom Kay of Appalachian Voices. “But it makes it a little bit harder for coal companies to pollute streams. And it makes it a little easier for communities to fight back against mines if they don’t want them.”

    But it seems that Trump’s intention to try and reverse the decline of the coal industry by repealing one of the few environmental Obama era laws which he could, fairly easily, is a lost cause anyway:

    “But coal companies loathe this new rule. Coal mining is already facing a vicious decline in Appalachia — partly because the industry is shifting West to places like Wyoming, but also because the advent of cheap natural gas has displaced US demand for coal, causing hundreds of coal power plants to close nationwide. And now comes a complex new regulation, imposing new restrictions and making it more expensive to operate.

    — Here’s a closer look at why Trump will struggle to save the US coal industry even if he manages to repeal many of Obama’s environmental policies. Scrapping the stream protection rule might help boost the bottom lines of some mining companies at the margins, but it’s unlikely to reverse the long inexorable downward trend of mining jobs in Appalachia.”

    https://www.vox.com/2017/2/2/14488448/stream-protection-rule

    Thus it would appear that repeal of the stream protection rule doesn’t actually give coal companies carte blanche to pollute water courses and it won’t do much to save an ailing industry. What is important to note here is that the coal industry in the States is not in apparently terminal decline due to the efforts of the ‘keep it in the ground’ climate change numpties, but because of hard economic realities. So if coal goes the way of the dinosaurs because of that, then it’s sad for the people whose livelihoods depend upon its extraction, but c’est la vie as they say. Bring on cleaner, simpler natural gas and nuclear.

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  27. Jaime. Surface coal mining goes through a cycle, with the last phases relating to land and drainage restoration or rehabilitation. Repeal of some environmental legislation will remove the necessity of paying for these last phases.
    I previously mentioned the fact that coal production only increased by 1% in the US in the last year despite being looked on favourably by the Trump administration. Much of the coal is now uneconomic.
    I’m not against using coal, but as I have mentioned before there are smarter ways of obtaining its energy content- in particular burning it underground. Studies were being done to develop and use this technology within the large offshore Northumberland Coalfield. With the present climate against fossil fuels I doubt this is being given much effort now. It would be equivalent to fracking writ even larger.

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  28. I’ve never heard of controlled burning of coal seams underground Alan. That’s a new one on me. it doesn’t sound, on the face of it, a very good idea. I vaguely remember reading about some uncontrolled underground fire that would burn or has been burning for a thousand years! Intentionally setting fires underground sounds like it could be fraught with risk. Maybe it’s viable though. I don’t know.

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  29. Alan, “Much of the coal is now uneconomic.”

    Apparently the coal price has been going up recently.

    Reuters news today:

    Far from entering the death throes predicted by some environmentalists and analysts, thermal coal miners are enjoying their best returns in years as strong Asian demand and tight supplies send prices soaring.

    Chinese thermal coal futures hit a record of 687 yuan ($108.49) this week, up five-fold from their 2016 lows. Coal cargo prices from Australia’s Newcastle terminal, meanwhile, have roughly doubled since 2016 lows to over $100 per tonne, not far off 2011/2012 levels.

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  30. Jaime. The problem is getting the coal to burn sustainably at all. Cannot burn out of control because air or oxygen has to be supplied and can easily be stopped.
    I don’t know very much about the technology but remember talking about the plans to use it offshore Northumberland with a consulting engineering geologist several years ago. It seemed to me then the only environmentally sensible way to extract energy from coal.

    Shallow burning has occurred naturally. Coals near the surface in the Dakotas and Montana have burned with the heat produced creating red ‘brick’ in the surrounding shales.

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  31. Paul. “Much of the [Appalachian] coal is now uneconomic”. Easily won coal (eg coal from Australia and British Columbia exported to China; coal from Columbia to UK) still finds markets.

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  32. The reason Trump is so hated by the left is the uncensored nature of his statements. Trump says what he is thinking without a filter. This means he says things that are mostly true on issues like immigration and crime that leftists lie about or actively cover up. To be politically correct, you have to actively censor obvious truths and simply ignore inconvenient truths especially about culture, Western values, and Islam.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Jamie. As I expected the UK is set against in-situ exploitation of coal resources because of their greater release of CO2 compared with natural gas. It is suspected that without government support the technology would never be developed.
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/08/underground-coal-gasification-uk-gas-coal

    The Geological Survey estimated there are 17 billion tonnes of coal that could be gasified in-situ in the U.K. – several hundred years supply.

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  34. Geoff was decrying the Democrat opponents to Trump earlier. I think there may be a clearout on the way there.

    Getting a FISA warrant on Carter Page meant that all his communication with the Trump campaign was effectively under surveillance of the Obama administration. All internal campaign papers that Page had access to were also accessible for at least some people who tried to prevent a Trump election victory.

    One may (like me) dislike Trump and the Republican party and all they stand for. But this extremely dirty play by the Democrats and by the Obama administration was far outside of any decency and fairness. It was against the most basic rules of a democratic system. It is likely that it broke several laws.

    There are still many questions: What was, exactly, the result of the surveillance of Carter Page and the Trump campaign. Who was getting these results – officially and unofficially? How were they used?

    I am pretty sure now that more heads of those involved will role [sic]. Some of the people who arranged the scheme, and some of those who tried to cover it up, will go to jail.

    If Trump and the Republicans play this right they have practically won the next elections.

    That’s blogger Moon of Alabama on the Nunes memo, released at noon Washington time.

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  35. To understand this you must understand how central to the leftist project multiculturalism is. Marxism fundamentally divides people into economic groups, e.g., the proletariat. These categories are claimed to transcend all other characteristics such as culture, race, etc. To further this false lie, it is imperative to erase national, religious, and cultural distinctions. America’s constitution is uniquely problematic to this project. The idea was that each state could embody a unique religion, culture, and even legal system. This is the true form of “diversity” and vastly more important than “diversity” theory which treats people as victims of their race, gender, etc. But all are victims of “white” oppression.

    Multiculturalism as it has evolved is so absurd on its face, the only way for it to prevail is self-censorship and the shaming and silencing of opponents. Trump fails that test and is actually trying to realign the U S government with the old nationalist model. He therefore must be destroyed since he’s an existential threat to the enforcement of a lie. That explains the unhinged and emotional nature of the opposition to Trump.

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  36. Sorry for the late reply, Alan :”MiaB suggest replacing “And society acquiesces in social destruction.” with “And society acquiesces and replaces coal with North Sea natural gas.”

    Didn’t Denis Rooke, in charge of the national gas board, essentially forbid gas to be used to generate electricity until the privatisation. The social process took a few years but I accept your corrigendum

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  37. David (DPY6629): Thanks for both your contributions here (and for that tip about Science of Doom on GCMs, on Clive Best’s thread, by the way). You’ve gone wider than Trump’s SOTU, and wider than energy and climate, just as Geoff and I have. But then, looking back, Shub’s key contribution on coal was about much more than the very developed economy we call the USA, for whose current success Trump very much wishes to take credit. Alan meanwhile has been arguing powerfully about the downsides of coal for developed economies, with Jaime looking into the fine print. I very much wanted that discussion, given what the President had to say about this ‘beautiful’ mineral. But, precisely because I think Trump has made such an honest and rational stand on energy, sans climate, even if he has oversold what he can do for American coal workers – rational on energy compared to his US opposition and other western governments, that is – I’m interested in the wider picture, to get an idea of whether the NYC real estate man is likely to survive and win another term, and help, not hinder, the Republicans to retain their majority in both Houses of Congress.

    I accept that your summaries of the cultural situation have validity, up to a point. But Trump remains for me an enigma. He has some terrible weaknesses which may entrap him as Robert Mueller remains on the warpath on the Russia collusion front. Andrew McCarthy, himself a former assistant attorney for the Southern District of New York, is one of my go-to thinkers on this and wrote this just two days ago, after the SOTU:

    Like so much of what we’ve seen in the collusion/obstruction investigations, this episode makes one wince. The president and his subordinates decided to try to mislead experienced reporters. They did so after apparently deliberating for hours over what to say, under circumstances in which (a) it was nigh certain that the truth would come out and (b) Trump did not consult with his own lawyers before the statement was issued. It is an embarrassing display of poor character and ineptitude.

    Congress, however, has yet to make criminal stupidity a crime.

    Mueller is right to investigate this incident, particularly given its close relation to the Trump Tower meeting, the most solid known evidence of Trump “collusion” with Russia during the 2016 election. Still, though unsavory, that form of collusion is neither criminal nor suggestive of Trump complicity in Russia’s cyber-espionage against the 2016 election. Similarly, Hope Hicks’s unsavory statement is highly unlikely to prop up an obstruction prosecution.

    So probably off the hook there, for the moment. McCarthy also did a useful summary of the Nunes Memo late yesterday, which he agrees seems to reveal staggering malfeasance in allowing the Trump campaign to be bugged three weeks away from the election. But he doesn’t overdraw from there to President Obama and Hillary Clinton personally organising the taps and listening in to proceedings. More clearly needs to come out.

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  38. Oh no… both barrels of a Russel Seitz drive-by snark!

    VVhat’s the point of a Russel Seitz?

    VVho cares?

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  39. Alan… Funnily enough I was just writing (in English) about people writing in Latin.

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  40. Seitz? Isn’t he one of the neverwuzzers hoping to single handedly apply the final solution to those vvraskly denialists?

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