Policy: Environment & Energy

Apparently banning future coal plants isn't enough to curb coal emissions

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Beltway Confidential,EPA,Ashe Schow,Energy and Environment,Coal,Europe

If the International Energy Agency had its way, coal would cease to exist.

But for the rest of Americans — who can’t power their homes on unicorn sneezes and rainbows — coal is still king.

"Radical action is needed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, yet that radical action is disappointingly absent," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said.

Absent? Really?

What about the Obama administration's continued “war on coal”? The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule that would make it nearly impossible to open a new coal plant without using expensive and inefficient carbon capture and storage technology. And the EPA will release a similar rule for existing coal plants in 2014.

If issuing rules that will close one-third of America's coal plants isn't “radical” enough, what is?

Coal demand is already growing at a slower pace thanks to energy efficiency and diversification. The IEA predicts coal demand will grow at an average rate of 2.3 percent per year through 2018, down from the agency’s 2012 prediction, which had the rate at 2.6 percent per year.

The predictions are a dramatic reduction from the actual average growth rate of 3.4 percent per year between 2007 and 2012.

The IEA is hoping that increased shale gas production in tandem with EPA regulations will further reduce coal’s market share.

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