Fifty coal-fired power plants have shut in the United States since President Donald Trump came to office two years ago, a major environmental organization said Thursday.
The Sierra Club counted 50 closures, along with 51 announcements of closure, since Trump was sworn into office in January 2017.
The numbers are distinct because it sometimes takes years between an announcement and the actual shuttering.
This week, the operators of two coal plants, one in Florida and the other in Utah, announced they would shut their doors within the next few years.
In total, 289 have closed since 2010, comprising 40 percent of the U.S.’s coal power capacity, while an additional 241 plants remain open.
A coal power plant that began running in Alaska a few weeks ago is the only new installation to open since Trump took office, the non-profit said.
“We’re seeing a rush to the exit door from the coal industry and utilities because the economics don’t work out,” the Sierra Club’s Jonathan Levenshus told AFP.
Despite the president’s pro-coal rhetoric, “what the Trump administration is offering is false promises,” he added.
Since the fracking boom began around a decade ago, coal has become more expensive to exploit than natural gas, which is experiencing strong growth in the United States and increasingly replacing coal.
By this summer, coal is on course to provide only 25 percent of the U.S. energy mix from its share of 35 percent in 2015.
Meanwhile, natural gas will account for 40 percent of the power supply, according to an analysis published Thursday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
U.S. coal production has fallen by a third since its peak in 2008, according to official energy statistics, and more than half of all mines have closed since that time.
While the decline of the coal industry is widely seen as a positive development in the context of mitigating climate change and protecting the environment, the industry is central to the economies of some rural communities, which may face increasingly bleak economic futures without the emergence of alternative opportunities.
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“So, instead of pulling the plug on the coal industry and watching those people and their families struggle and starve, let’s bring opportunities there now so that they can transition sooner than later and let’s go ahead and get this on track.”