Coal

  • 48.5% of the electricity generated in the United States is from coal, expected to still be at 43.8% by 2035 EEI, 37
  • The United States both produces and uses about 25% of coal globally EEI, 37
  • A coal plant that produces 1GW emits 1 ton of CO2 every 2 seconds Muller, 275
  • Coal power plants will decline some regardless of whether the CPP is implemented because (a) natural gas is really cheap (b) solar PV is getting cheaper to build/buy and (c) regulations and incentives other than the CPP (state/regional) are in effect EIA, 19 (CPP would just make it happen a lot faster)
  • States are currently mostly hitting their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), largely because power demand is increasing and much of the new capacity is coming from renewables. Slower increase in demand would likely throw off states' RPS goals– unless the CPP is implemented. Without the CPP, coal will remain a significant portion of energy portfolios across the nation. With the CPP, more coal plants will be retired, leading to a bigger market for new renewables (and natural gas) plants and allowing states to exceed their RPS targets even without increasing electricity demand EIA, 37
  • As of January 2016 the DoI has a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on federal + native lands while the process undergoes review. 40% of current coal is on federal + native lands; 80% of that is in Wyoming. Current leases have ~20 years' more coal to extract EIA, 32
  • "clean coal": idea whereby coal-fired plants capture CO2 before it leaves the smokestack and bury it (sequester) in the earth. Mechanism: pressurized CO2 injected into saline aquifers below impermeable caprock - 1k-8k feet deep. There, it would form mild carbonic acid, which would dissolve and precipitate out as dolomite and limestone Weisman, 223
  • Mercury Air Toxic Standards (MATS) reduces coal-fired capacity in the United States in the near term (2016) by requiring 70-90% SO2 emissions to be filtered out– retrofits that are too expensive for some plants but also highly effective on cleaning up those continuing operation EIA, 113

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