What will the end of coal power mean?

Plus, Trump embraces fossil fuels and EPA chief defends clean energy

Credit: Mike Gifford/Flickr

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna

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A federal plan to aggressively phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030, roughly 10 years ahead of schedule, was announced by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on Monday. The plan is a cornerstone of the Liberals’ move to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Taking the country’s coal plants offline is expected to result in a reduction of roughly 61 megatonnes in annual emissions. Moreover, the plan would mean nearly 90 per cent of the country’s electricity would then be drawn from nuclear generation and renewable sources such as hydroelectricity, wind and solar. But coal still accounts for 10 per cent of the country’s energy supply, and the industry is a large employer with some 42,000 Canadians directly or indirectly employed in the extraction of 69 million tonnes of the fossil fuel each year, according to the Coal Association of Canada. (CBC)

On the same day that federal Environment Minister McKenna announced plans to speed up Canada’s transition from coal to clean energy by 2030, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said he had asked his transition team to “develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs.” Among other things, Trump said he would “cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs.” (CNBC)

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fiercely defended the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies in a speech on Monday at the National Press Club and insisted the nation’s shift from fossil fuels will continue no matter who occupies the White House. “The inevitability of our clean energy future is bigger than any one person or one nation,” Gina McCarthy said. “It must be guided by a simple but profound truth: we don’t have to choose between economy or environment. We can and we must choose both.”

Trump, who has been a blistering critic of the EPA, has vowed to scrap what he sees as onerous regulations the agency has put in place in recent years, from tighter methane controls on domestic drillers to the administration’s signature effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. He also has vowed to end the “war on coal,” expand oil and gas leasing across federal lands and waters, and “cancel” U.S. participation in the Paris agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions. (The Washington Post)