Though Trump promised to save America’s coal industry, the latter appears to be in worse shape than ever. Over a dozen coal companies have filed for bankruptcy over the past two years and as investors pour resources into green energy instead, the U.S. Energy Information Agency now projects that renewables will overtake coal this year for the first time. However, cheap fracked gas is flooding the coal space. During the presidential campaign America’s gas burn has soared. In the second piece of an on-going series, our lead blogger, L. Michael Buchsbaum, looks at coal’s collapse in the United States.
In May, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Environmental Action Germany (DUH), and Food and Water Europe organized online conferences entitled “Fracking, Plastics, Methane Emissions and the Gas Lobby” to better explain the connection between them and climate crisis. The first of the two drew upon startling new satellite data explained by globally renowned methane and fracking expert, Prof. Robert Howarth from Cornell University. In his presentation, he detailed how the ongoing fuel switch from coal to gas has likely worsened the overall climate. Other speakers, including two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), several environmental attorneys, and other fracking activists discussed continuing gas lobbying efforts to “greenwash” uninformed MEPs and the general public. Now available for streaming, the first webinar-debate provided a welcome space for an informed discussion around fossil gas policies, many of which ignore established science in favor of economic and political expediency—our L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews.
Over the last two centuries, energy trade has become increasingly global. Where wood was found and used locally, coal was mined and transported nationally, and oil emerged as a global commodity. Natural gas is also moving from regional markets to the global shipping of LNG. The same holds for energy demand, which is growing and shifting Southward, away from traditional OECD markets, to China, India, South-East Asia and Africa, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms in its findings. Renewable energy harbors a number of characteristics that could potentially end this trend of increasingly global energy trade. Just Voskuyl and Daniel Scholten take a critical look at the bigger picture.
Although Trump keeps pushing lumps of coal and tankers full of freedom gas down the world’s collective throats, his industry-friendly administration hasn’t prevented America’s coal industry from dying or its fracking companies from losing piles of money. Nor has he stopped wind from gaining even more traction. After setting growth records last year, another breakthrough is forecast for 2020 as investors pour resources into new waters: offshore wind energy. But fearing its tremendous potential energy capacity, Trump’s minions are ramping up efforts to hold it back. As election fever grips the nation, L. Michael Buchsbaum looks at the state of offshore wind in Part 3 of his series on America’s energy transition.
Though fracking enabled the U.S. to finally re-achieve the long held conservative dream of energy independence, the ever-increasing volume of fracked fossil gas flowing out of the U.S., has led to an international glut as prices continue to fall. Now neck-deep in debt and historically unprofitable, pure play gas frackers are starting to struggle. Mass bankruptcies, shut-ins, and layoffs are likely. But Trump’s evisceration of environmental protection laws combined with ludicrously low liability bonds virtually ensures the public will be stuck with the clean up bill. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
As utilities across Europe make the switch from coal to gas, CO2 emissions there are falling. But on the other side of the Atlantic, ever-rising fracking production deteriorates air and water quality, impacting public health. Buchsbaum reports from Colorado where ozone and other industry associated pollutants regularly makes outdoor exercise dangerous.
Croatia’s plan to construct a liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal has been on its energy policy agenda for decades, but was postponed over and over again. Finally investors have decided to build the Krk LNG terminal, and argue that it will increase energy security in Central Europe and the Balkans. But its impact can range from maintaining the country’s reliance on fossil fuels to becoming an underutilised piece of infrastructure sapping away governments’ attention from their renewable energy agendas, says John Szabó.
Under pressure from Trump, just weeks ahead of the European Parliamentary elections, the EU Commission signed a long-term agreement locking in at least 20-years of imported fracked Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) shipments. Despite hundreds of international environmental groups warning this will torpedo the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords and retard plans to decarbonize Europe, EU President Juncker and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič are hailing the deal as part of the continent’s on-going clean energy transition. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a look.