The impending closing of a coal-fired power plant in North Dakota is the perfect opportunity for the state's conservative commentators to caterwaul about evil Minnesota liberals and relay fever dreams of a post-apocalyptic United States in which families are huddled around a candle in cold darkness because coal is no longer used to produce energy.
It's much harder for North Dakota conservatives to acknowledge that their savior/president, Donald J. Trump, is failing miserably at his promise of saving coal and the jobs that go with it. Coal is dying and there's nothing Trump can do about it, as painful as that reality is to places like McLean County, where the Coal Creek Station plant and adjacent Falkirk Mine are located.
The reasons for that are not what you've been led to believe by Republican politicians, conservative think-tanks and those given platforms to parrot the views of Republican politicians and conservative think-tanks.
Coal is on life-support mainly because of the abundance of cheap natural gas and lowered electricity demand. And while carbon-reducing regulations put in place during the administration of President Barack Obama have played a role in coal's demise, that role is only fractional.
The source for this ground-breaking information is the well-known liberal institution known as the Trump administration.
In 2017, the Department of Energy, under the direction of subversive lefty secretary Rick Perry, produced a report meant to bolster the coal and nuclear energy industries. Instead the report was a nothingburger that failed to advance the narrative that coal was indispensable and renewables were the anti-Christ.
Here are some lines from page 19 of the report:
"The biggest contributor to coal and nuclear plant retirements has been the advantaged economics of natural gas-fired generation."
"The development of abundant, domestic natural gas made possible by the shale revolution also has produced significant value for consumers and the economy overall."
"Another factor contributing to the retirement of power plants is low growth in electricity demand."
While the report acknowledges environmental regulations have been "a contributing factor" to power-plant closings, they "were not the sole cause of observed coal retirements."
In other words, Trump's "war on coal" was being waged mostly by natural gas and the American consumer, not solely Obama.
- Workers, communities fear closing North Dakota's largest coal plant will destroy their way of life
- McFeely: N.D. coal plant closing a failed Trump, Cramer promise
- North Dakota's largest coal-fired power plant will shut down in 2022 unless new buyer can be found
- Port: Despite regretful public tone about Coal Creek Station closure, behind the scenes executives were spiking the football
There's no question Minnesota-based Great River Energy's decision to close Coal Creek Station was based on the desire to use mostly wind power, supplemented by natural gas. Company executives admit that. They made a business decision based on the uneconomical future of coal.
An original draft of the report included a couple of jaw-dropping conclusions later scrubbed from the released report, according to media reports. One of the stunners was that regulations and renewable energy subsidies "played minor roles compared to the long-standing drop in electricity demand relative to previous expectation and years of low electric prices driven by high natural gas availability."
The direct references to regulations and subsidies playing "minor roles" were removed from the final report in favor of softer language.
If not, one might've thought it was written by Minnesota liberals and not the Trump administration.