A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down. That includes scrapping Obama's signature Clean Power Plan that would have spurred electrical suppliers to turn away from coal-fired power plants in favor of cleaner forms of energy such as natural gas. President Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back coal jobs and lift regulations he said were throttling the USA economy. The new rules compelled some older coal plants to close instead of upgrading their equipment to trap harmful emissions, according to the Associated Press.
"Coal use is at its lowest level in almost four decades and the Trump administration can't stop this country from continuing to move beyond coal", said Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. He and other Republicans frequently attacked President Obama for his increased regulations of the industry. They often referred to it as a "war on coal".
Still, if the Trump EPA does roll back Obama's regulations, it may not have a significant effect on the coal market in the US. Since 2010, power plant owners have either retired or announced plans to retire at least 630 coal plants in 43 states - almost 40 percent of the US coal fleet, according to data by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
"The coal industry is back", Trump declared at one rally in West Virginia last summer. But the numbers say otherwise.
Pizarchik, now a consultant on water quality and reforestation, said lower prices for natural gas and renewables will continue to drive down demand for coal, despite deregulation efforts by the Trump administration.
Despite the continued drops in domestic coal use, 2018 has been a better year for the industry thanks to soaring exports, said Joe Aldina, director of US coal analysis for S&P Global Platts. Next year, it's expected to drop by 8 percent. "But investor pressure about climate and financial risk, growing public support for renewables, and the continued declining costs of wind and solar are big reasons why coal is being pushed out of the market", said Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook. Also, somewhat ironically, the new Republican-sponsored tax law has encouraged coal plants to close.