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2015-08-06. King Coal, Long Besieged, Is Deposed by the Market.

posted Aug 7, 2015, 2:09 PM by Alan Gould
By James B. Stewart, New York Times. For GSS Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: In April 2005, President George W. Bush hailed “clean coal” as a key to “greater energy independence,” .... But a decade later, the United States coal industry is reeling as never before in its history, the victim of new environmental regulations, intensifying attacks by activists, collapsing coal prices, and — above all — the rise of cheap alternative fuels, especially natural gas. This week President Obama slammed the industry with tougher-than-expected rules from the Environmental Protection Agency limiting power plant carbon emissions, which will accelerate an already huge shift from coal to natural gas and other alternatives. “Clean coal” remains an expensive and thus far impractical pipe dream. Coal is the world’s biggest source of carbon emissions by far and the leading culprit in global warming.  ...Market forces have accomplished in just a few years what environmentalists and social advocates have struggled for decades to achieve. Coal prices have plunged about 70 percent in the last four years.  ...Mountaintop removal, the poster child for environmental destruction, has all but ground to a halt as coal companies continue to close mines, lay off workers and slash capital spending on expensive new mining operations. Meantime, natural gas production has soared and electric utilities have built up gas-fired generation to replace aging coal-fired power plants. ...Burning coal produces nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as does natural gas, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. ...In June, Norway’s government pension fund — considered the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund with $890 billion in assets, much of it generated from oil revenue — said it would divest itself of coal holdings. A spokeswoman for the fund said this was a financial decision, not a political one, .... http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/07/business/energy-environment/coal-industry-wobbles-as-market-forces-slug-away.html