The centerpiece of the climate plan Obama unveiled in June was a pledge to reign in the global-warming emissions of U.S. coal-fired power plants. Experts predict tightening controls will end up closing more plants and further troubling the U.S. coal industry, which experienced significant declines during Obama’s first term.
However, U.S. coal exports during that same time more than doubled, according to a June report from the Department of Energy.
“Companies are investing in this Hail Mary pass, trying to get their coal onto ships and over to Asian markets,” said Ross Macfarlane of the non-profit Climate Solutions. “They see nothing but declining demand and usage here in the U.S.”
China reportedly plans to double its coal imports over the next three years, and efforts on the part of Korea and Japan are expected to follow close behind.