US Coal Exports to *Lower* Global Carbon Emissions

Aaron Flint posted on August 28, 2014 09:21 :: 1075 Views

US coal exports from Montana’s Powder River Basin would actually help to lower global carbon dioxide emissions according to a Stanford University expert who says China’s demand for coal is unlikely to wane anytime soon. 

This, as President Obama reportedly plans to move forward with a UN climate plan without US Senate approval- a plan that one Democratic strategist says would put the Dems Senate Majority “in front of the firing squad.”

The first news comes from Shawn Regan with the Bozeman, Montana-based PERC.  Regan interviewed Frank Wolak, a professor of economics at Stanford University, where he is also the director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development. Q&A with Frank Wolak on U.S. Coal Exports and Climate Change

Q: You have argued that U.S. coal exports to China and other countries will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. Why is that?

A: I have argued that expanding western U.S. port capacity to allow a significant increase in exports of Powder River Basin coal to Asia will likely lead to reduced global greenhouse gas emissions. This argument relies on the fact that China has virtually no natural gas-fired electricity generation units and a limited amount of nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind generation units. However, China currently obtains more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired generation units. During each of the past ten years, China built more than the installed generation capacity of California—approximately 60 gigawatts—in new coal-fired power plants. These generation facilities have a useful life of more than 30 years, so China’s demand for coal is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future.

Although there is plenty of coal available in Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa to meet China’s and the rest of Asia’s imported coal needs, increasing western U.S. port capacity can allow a significant amount of Powder River Basin coal to be sold in Asia. The increase in U.S. coal demand caused by these exports will increase domestic coal prices and further increase the relative price of producing electricity from coal relative to natural gas in the United States. Consequently, increased coal exports to Asia will yield no net change in greenhouse gas emissions from China and other Asian countries, but a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions because of the shift from coal to natural gas-fired generation brought about by the higher U.S. coal prices caused by the substantially higher coal exports to Asia. – See more at: Climate plan spooks Dems

President Obama’s election-year plan to win a new international climate change accord is making vulnerable Democrats nervous.

The State Department on Wednesday denied a report in The New York Times that the plan is to come up with a treaty that would not require Senate confirmation, but that appeared to provide cold comfort to Democrats worried the issue will revive GOP cries about an imperial Obama presidency.

One Democratic strategist said the proposal would put swing-state candidates who are critical to the party keeping its Senate majority “in front of the firing squad.”

Read more:
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *