By Steven Allen Adams
November 10, 2021 - Comments from the U.S. climate czar saying coal would be done for power generation after 2030 didn’t sit well with 1st District Congressman David McKinley.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, told an editor for Bloomberg in a Tuesday article that coal would be no more as soon as 2030.
“By 2030 in the United States, we won’t have coal,” Kerry said. “We will not have coal plants.
“We’re saying we are going to be carbon free in the power sector by 2035,” Kerry continued. “I think that’s leadership. I think that’s indicative of what we can do.”
Kerry is in Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in its second week. Kerry gave those remarks exclusively to Bloomberg, whose founder and majority investor — billionaire former New York City mayor and failed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg — donated $500 million towards ending coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2030.
Climate change is a focus of Biden, who attended the U.N. Climate Change Conference last week. In April, Biden announced a goal to reduce greenhouse emissions by between 50 percent and 52 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. At a virtual summit with world leaders on the changing global climate earlier this year, Biden told world leaders that the goal is for the U.S. to be carbon-neutral by 2035.
McKinley, a frequent critic of Biden’s climate change agenda, took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to raise his objections to Kerry’s remarks.
“Yet again, elitist John Kerry showed what the Biden Administration truly believes – they don’t care about coal workers or their families,” McKinley wrote. “Kerry has spent the week promising climate activists that by 2030 the US ‘won’t have coal.’ West Virginia wants to know, Mr. Kerry, how do you expect to tell these folks they don’t have a job anymore? Democrats could not be more out-of-touch.”
Coal used to be the primary source of electric power in the U.S. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, coal-fired power made up “42 percent of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generating capacity and about 52 percent of total electricity generation” in 1990. As of the end of 2020, “coal’s share of electricity generating capacity was at 20 percent and coal accounted for 19 percent of total utility-scale electricity generation.”
While renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, have crept up on coal and surpassed it for percentage of power generation, natural gas makes up the majority of power generation. According to the EIA, “the share of natural gas-fired electricity generating capacity increased from 17 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2020, and its share of electricity generation more than tripled from 12 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2020.”
According to the EIA, 95 gigawatts of coal capacity was closed or switched to another fuel between 2011 and the middle of 2020, with another 25 gigawatts slated to shut down by 2025. According to a study by the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability, all coal-fired power plants would have to close by 2030 to meet Biden’s emissions goal.
While coal mining jobs have rebounded slightly, the number of lost jobs over a decade is nearly half of what it was. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, coal jobs dropped from more than 88,000 in 2011 to more than 42,000 as of August.
McKinley was one of 13 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted last Friday for the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF).
The bill filled with hard infrastructure projects includes $65 billion for energy demonstration projects, such as carbon capture and sequestration which takes the carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired power plants and stores it underground. While too expensive to use now, supporters believe the funding can help make the technology more affordable and extend the lives of remaining coal-fired power plants.