Category: Christopher Mendoza

America Is Finally Catching Up on Clean Coal


When Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement last June, France, Germany, and Italy were quick to subject Washington to a never-ending barrage of criticism.  But in what can be described only as the height of hypocrisy, these same countries have been more than happy to keep their power plants running using American coal.  As so often when coal is involved, the gap between their rhetoric and action exposes the painful dishonesty infecting the debate.

In 2017, total American coal exports increased by 58 percent compared to 2016, amounting to 95 million tons – of which 40 million went to Europe, despite the continent’s leaders’ vow of curtailing coal.  That the Obama administration was out to severely curtail fossil fuel use is well known.  The former president’s scorn for coal was abundantly obvious, and the Paris agreement was its embodiment.  Despite proclaiming the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” in May 2008, Obama soon back-flipped once in office and turned against the resource.

Within a year, Obama unleashed the war on coal when he proposed a nationwide cap-and-trade system targeting local plants, stifling coal companies with excessive regulation, and cutting billions in funding for clean coal projects across the country.  Worse, what remained of the federal grants for such projects was allowed to be willfully misspent.  In an example of the utter incompetence of the Obama White House, power firm Summit Power Group squandered parts of a $450-million stimulus grant on absurd excesses rather than using the money to advance a long sought after clean coal project in Texas.

Glaring lack of oversight and a willfully destructive attitude toward coal aside, the decision to kill coal was yet another a massive miscalculation of the left.  Failing to look ahead, Obama did his best to unravel American coal during what should have been a time of progress for clean coal technology development.

Luckily, the current White House is taking a different approach in an attempt to make up for lost time.  Instead of throwing millions and millions of taxpayer dollars at renewables, the 2019 budget proposal flat-out slashes funding for renewable energy – an industry that remains all too immature to cover a significant amount of U.S. energy needs despite previous government handouts.

The financial groundwork for effective clean coal technology research is buoyed through a host of measures to boost investments into carbon capture technology.  A plan for tax credit extensions will incentivize carbon capture by offering a tax extension for every ton of carbon dioxide that is captured and then either sequestered or used in another field of production, such as oil recovery.  At the same time, the Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Research and Development will receive a cash injection of $502 million.

Naturally, Democrats are up in arms about these policy moves.  Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released a press statement deriding the budget proposal’s priorities as “not the priorities of the American people.”  Like so many of his fellow perennial do-gooders, he is gravely mistaken.  For starters, the export increases to Europe (and Asia) have boosted mining jobs across the U.S., signaling an unexpected renaissance for an industry that was fighting for its life not too long ago.  The surge is such that coal-producers are reopening previously shut down mines.  In Indiana, for example, coal firm Alliance Resource Partners is reopening a mine it had to decommission in 2015, the same year the Paris agreement was forced through.

The constructive approach to coal is not only bolstering the domestic economy; it is also central to advancing American interests abroad.  The U.S. has clawed itself back into a position to rapidly advance its know-how in the clean coal sector at a time when major world economies are investing heavily in coal power.  For example, India will continue to rely first and foremost on clean coal, using high-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) coal plants, for at least another 30 years to cover its growing energy needs.  And in China, the International Energy Agency has predicted that coal will account for more than 55% of energy demand by 2022.

In pushing for a global “Clean Coal Alliance” at the U.N. climate conference in Germany late last year, the U.S. forcefully asserted its claim to leadership in boosting clean coal use around the globe.  An alliance including Australia, Indonesia, China, India, Ukraine, Poland, and Japan would also place a lot of pressure on international institutions like the World Bank to reconsider their needlessly rigid stance on renewables.  The World Bank in the past demonstrated a clear bias in favor of renewables projects by ending financial support for coal-fired plants.  Yet recent budget plans add a lot of weight and credibility to the creation of the alliance, providing coal-reliant countries with the means to circumvent World Bank restrictions.

Despite years of missed opportunity and wasted money, the Trump administration is kicking production into overdrive.  Never mind the naysayers: the Europeans themselves have clearly realized they cannot sustain their economies through other fuel sources alone.  And while the ideologues at home cry foul play, it is important to remember that this country was built on coal, innovation, and invention.  America is back on track to lead the way.

When Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement last June, France, Germany, and Italy were quick to subject Washington to a never-ending barrage of criticism.  But in what can be described only as the height of hypocrisy, these same countries have been more than happy to keep their power plants running using American coal.  As so often when coal is involved, the gap between their rhetoric and action exposes the painful dishonesty infecting the debate.

In 2017, total American coal exports increased by 58 percent compared to 2016, amounting to 95 million tons – of which 40 million went to Europe, despite the continent’s leaders’ vow of curtailing coal.  That the Obama administration was out to severely curtail fossil fuel use is well known.  The former president’s scorn for coal was abundantly obvious, and the Paris agreement was its embodiment.  Despite proclaiming the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” in May 2008, Obama soon back-flipped once in office and turned against the resource.

Within a year, Obama unleashed the war on coal when he proposed a nationwide cap-and-trade system targeting local plants, stifling coal companies with excessive regulation, and cutting billions in funding for clean coal projects across the country.  Worse, what remained of the federal grants for such projects was allowed to be willfully misspent.  In an example of the utter incompetence of the Obama White House, power firm Summit Power Group squandered parts of a $450-million stimulus grant on absurd excesses rather than using the money to advance a long sought after clean coal project in Texas.

Glaring lack of oversight and a willfully destructive attitude toward coal aside, the decision to kill coal was yet another a massive miscalculation of the left.  Failing to look ahead, Obama did his best to unravel American coal during what should have been a time of progress for clean coal technology development.

Luckily, the current White House is taking a different approach in an attempt to make up for lost time.  Instead of throwing millions and millions of taxpayer dollars at renewables, the 2019 budget proposal flat-out slashes funding for renewable energy – an industry that remains all too immature to cover a significant amount of U.S. energy needs despite previous government handouts.

The financial groundwork for effective clean coal technology research is buoyed through a host of measures to boost investments into carbon capture technology.  A plan for tax credit extensions will incentivize carbon capture by offering a tax extension for every ton of carbon dioxide that is captured and then either sequestered or used in another field of production, such as oil recovery.  At the same time, the Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Research and Development will receive a cash injection of $502 million.

Naturally, Democrats are up in arms about these policy moves.  Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released a press statement deriding the budget proposal’s priorities as “not the priorities of the American people.”  Like so many of his fellow perennial do-gooders, he is gravely mistaken.  For starters, the export increases to Europe (and Asia) have boosted mining jobs across the U.S., signaling an unexpected renaissance for an industry that was fighting for its life not too long ago.  The surge is such that coal-producers are reopening previously shut down mines.  In Indiana, for example, coal firm Alliance Resource Partners is reopening a mine it had to decommission in 2015, the same year the Paris agreement was forced through.

The constructive approach to coal is not only bolstering the domestic economy; it is also central to advancing American interests abroad.  The U.S. has clawed itself back into a position to rapidly advance its know-how in the clean coal sector at a time when major world economies are investing heavily in coal power.  For example, India will continue to rely first and foremost on clean coal, using high-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) coal plants, for at least another 30 years to cover its growing energy needs.  And in China, the International Energy Agency has predicted that coal will account for more than 55% of energy demand by 2022.

In pushing for a global “Clean Coal Alliance” at the U.N. climate conference in Germany late last year, the U.S. forcefully asserted its claim to leadership in boosting clean coal use around the globe.  An alliance including Australia, Indonesia, China, India, Ukraine, Poland, and Japan would also place a lot of pressure on international institutions like the World Bank to reconsider their needlessly rigid stance on renewables.  The World Bank in the past demonstrated a clear bias in favor of renewables projects by ending financial support for coal-fired plants.  Yet recent budget plans add a lot of weight and credibility to the creation of the alliance, providing coal-reliant countries with the means to circumvent World Bank restrictions.

Despite years of missed opportunity and wasted money, the Trump administration is kicking production into overdrive.  Never mind the naysayers: the Europeans themselves have clearly realized they cannot sustain their economies through other fuel sources alone.  And while the ideologues at home cry foul play, it is important to remember that this country was built on coal, innovation, and invention.  America is back on track to lead the way.



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How Trump Could Ride the Asian Energy Boom


As expected, reactions to Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord perfectly exemplified the boundless hypocrisy of the left. Barely was the move was officially announced than world leaders, environmentalists, and commentators alike were falling over themselves to condemn his decision as an unmitigated disaster for the future of the planet. French President Emmanuel Macron used his American counterpart’s decision as an excuse to launch an absurd publicity stunt in which he disingenuously invited U.S. climate scientists to move to France to continue their work. Meanwhile, members of the mainstream media from the New York Times to Quartz to the Washington Post declared the president was well on his way to “destroying the planet,” and as has become par for the course ever since Trump’s election, pundits reiterated their claims that it’s now China that is the Earth’s green energy savior.

When it was revealed weeks later that China, Japan, and South Korea — all of which are party to the Paris agreement — had been funding new coal-fired energy plants in Indonesia over the past several years, the silence from the green lobby was deafening. It appears that so-called environmentalists are willing to turn a blind eye to China and other countries’ investments in fossil fuels, even as they continue to bash the administration for attempting to shift U.S. energy policy towards natural gas and clean coal.

While it would display a little more evenhandedness if the green lobby were to go after China, Japan, and South Korea with the same gusto as it pursues the White House over its energy policy, it would be equally wrongheaded for it to do so. Like the Trump administration, these countries have been pragmatic enough to accept that the use of fossil fuels will continue for the foreseeable future, particularly in emerging economies. They also acknowledge that new ‘clean coal’ generation technologies have the potential to greatly reduce carbon emissions and provide affordable, reliable power as cleaner energy sources mature. The simple truth of the matter is that clean energy is far too expensive to fully meet the energy needs a nation bigger than Norway at this stage, making the continued development of cleaner fossil fuel power sources critical, as much as green activists hate to admit it.

As a result, the Trump administration has wisely chosen to eschew the maniacal pursuit of immature renewables that stand little chance of meeting the world’s immediate or medium-term energy needs in favor of a strategy that promotes investment in clean coal technology and U.S. exports of natural gas, coal, and petroleum. While the White House’s energy policy may not fit a hysterical media narrative that demands an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels, Trump’s strategy of backing clean coal and other emerging technologies is the only way to ensure the world can affordably meet its energy needs while minimizing pollution.

The U.S. is also taking a fresh approach to global energy policy following the Pollyannaish strategies of the Obama years. Backing up leaders of developing countries such as Nigeria and figures like former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, the White House has called out the West’s rank hypocrisy in blocking poorer economies from leveraging coal resources to meet the needs of the hundreds of millions of people who are still off the grid. Acknowledging their concerns as legitimate, the Trump administration is pushing for a shift in the World Bank’s policy to allow for the construction of new clean coal-powered plants around the world, using its seat on the board of the UN’s Green Climate Fund to promote more investment in clean coal technologies in developing countries.

But while encouraging multilateral development banks to lift restrictions on funding clean coal-fired power plants is a good start, the White House needs to truly invest in its energy vision if it wants to achieve its goals and prove its critics from the green lobby wrong. Unfortunately, the Trump administration appears reluctant to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to financing clean energy innovation, having cut the budget of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, which researches new technologies that could facilitate the cleaner and safer use of so-called dirty fuels.

However, if the White House doesn’t start to catch up and invest in its energy vision, East Asian powers will start to reap the benefits of every major energy opportunity that arises, whether it be carbon-based or renewable, all the while avoiding the opprobrium heaped on the Trump administration for pursuing similar policies.

As expected, reactions to Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord perfectly exemplified the boundless hypocrisy of the left. Barely was the move was officially announced than world leaders, environmentalists, and commentators alike were falling over themselves to condemn his decision as an unmitigated disaster for the future of the planet. French President Emmanuel Macron used his American counterpart’s decision as an excuse to launch an absurd publicity stunt in which he disingenuously invited U.S. climate scientists to move to France to continue their work. Meanwhile, members of the mainstream media from the New York Times to Quartz to the Washington Post declared the president was well on his way to “destroying the planet,” and as has become par for the course ever since Trump’s election, pundits reiterated their claims that it’s now China that is the Earth’s green energy savior.

When it was revealed weeks later that China, Japan, and South Korea — all of which are party to the Paris agreement — had been funding new coal-fired energy plants in Indonesia over the past several years, the silence from the green lobby was deafening. It appears that so-called environmentalists are willing to turn a blind eye to China and other countries’ investments in fossil fuels, even as they continue to bash the administration for attempting to shift U.S. energy policy towards natural gas and clean coal.

While it would display a little more evenhandedness if the green lobby were to go after China, Japan, and South Korea with the same gusto as it pursues the White House over its energy policy, it would be equally wrongheaded for it to do so. Like the Trump administration, these countries have been pragmatic enough to accept that the use of fossil fuels will continue for the foreseeable future, particularly in emerging economies. They also acknowledge that new ‘clean coal’ generation technologies have the potential to greatly reduce carbon emissions and provide affordable, reliable power as cleaner energy sources mature. The simple truth of the matter is that clean energy is far too expensive to fully meet the energy needs a nation bigger than Norway at this stage, making the continued development of cleaner fossil fuel power sources critical, as much as green activists hate to admit it.

As a result, the Trump administration has wisely chosen to eschew the maniacal pursuit of immature renewables that stand little chance of meeting the world’s immediate or medium-term energy needs in favor of a strategy that promotes investment in clean coal technology and U.S. exports of natural gas, coal, and petroleum. While the White House’s energy policy may not fit a hysterical media narrative that demands an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels, Trump’s strategy of backing clean coal and other emerging technologies is the only way to ensure the world can affordably meet its energy needs while minimizing pollution.

The U.S. is also taking a fresh approach to global energy policy following the Pollyannaish strategies of the Obama years. Backing up leaders of developing countries such as Nigeria and figures like former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, the White House has called out the West’s rank hypocrisy in blocking poorer economies from leveraging coal resources to meet the needs of the hundreds of millions of people who are still off the grid. Acknowledging their concerns as legitimate, the Trump administration is pushing for a shift in the World Bank’s policy to allow for the construction of new clean coal-powered plants around the world, using its seat on the board of the UN’s Green Climate Fund to promote more investment in clean coal technologies in developing countries.

But while encouraging multilateral development banks to lift restrictions on funding clean coal-fired power plants is a good start, the White House needs to truly invest in its energy vision if it wants to achieve its goals and prove its critics from the green lobby wrong. Unfortunately, the Trump administration appears reluctant to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to financing clean energy innovation, having cut the budget of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, which researches new technologies that could facilitate the cleaner and safer use of so-called dirty fuels.

However, if the White House doesn’t start to catch up and invest in its energy vision, East Asian powers will start to reap the benefits of every major energy opportunity that arises, whether it be carbon-based or renewable, all the while avoiding the opprobrium heaped on the Trump administration for pursuing similar policies.



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