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Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:00 PM

Sun setting on attempts to fan coal's embers

For those convinced that only significant reductions in carbon and other green-house gas emissions can limit the damage from climate change, last week’s announcement by the Trump administration — bolstering coal-fired power plants — is disheartening.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced a permanent replacement of his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan, which was sidelined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016; it dismantles the Obama era carbon-reduction requirements for power generation and its move away from coal and, instead, allows states to decide how much — if at all — to require a rollback of emissions and reduces the federal government’s authority in setting standards.

States’ attorney generals, including those in Washington, California, Oregon and elsewhere, have announced their intentions to file lawsuits to block the administrations’ “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, but some have warned that in the hands of a U.S. Supreme Court conservative majority, such a challenge could instead result in a ruling that limits future presidents’ abilities to enact measures to confront climate change.

Where to find some sunshine?


Not including hydropower, renewable sources such as solar and wind have a long road ahead to fully replace fossil fuels for energy and transportation needs. Solar doesn’t total even 2 percent of the nation’s energy portfolio; wind turbines provide about 6 percent.

But the costs pf solar and wind generation have dropped significantly; 34 percent for solar in the last five years. In Washington state, which ranks only 30th in the amount of solar energy installed in about 18,000 homes, more than 65 megawatts of the state’s total of 186 megawatts were installed in 2018 alone, with another 280 megawatts expected to be brought online over the next five years, according to figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

That growth stands in contrast to a dwindling future for coal, with or without the assistance of the Trump administration.


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