US coal exports surge over 60% so far

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2017/7/30 17:28:39

EU demands soar, despite criticizing Trump’s energy stance

US coal exports have jumped more than 60 percent so far this year due to soaring demand from Europe and Asia, according to a Reuters review of government data, allowing President Donald Trump's administration to claim that efforts to revive the battered industry are working.

The increased shipments come as the EU and other US allies heavily criticize the Trump administration for its rejection of 2015's landmark Paris Agreement, a climate control deal agreed by nearly 200 countries to mitigate carbon emissions by decreasing the burning of fossil fuels like coal.

The previously unpublished figures provided to Reuters by the US Energy Information Administration showed exports of the fuel from January through May totaled 36.79 million tons, up 60.3 percent from 22.94 million tons in the same period in 2016.

While reflecting a bounce from 2016, the shipments remained well below volumes recorded in equivalent periods from the previous five years.

They included a surge to several European countries during the 2017 period, including a 175 percent increase in shipments to the UK, and a doubling to France - which had suffered a series of nuclear power plant outages that required it and regional neighbors to rely more heavily on coal.

"If Europe wants to lecture Trump on climate then EU member states need transition plans to phase out polluting coal," said Laurence Watson, a data scientist working on coal at independent think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative in London.

Nicole Bockstaller, a spokeswoman at the EU Commission's Energy and Climate Action department, said that the EU's coal imports have generally been on a downward trend since 2006, albeit with seasonable variations like high demand during cold snaps in the winter.

Overall exports to European nations totaled 16 million tons in the first five months of this year, up from 10.5 million in the same period last year, according to the figures.

Meanwhile, exports to Asia totaled 12.3 million tons, compared to 6.2 million tons in the year-earlier period.

Trump had campaigned on a promise to "cancel" the Paris deal and sweep away Obama-era environmental regulations to help coal miners, whose output last year sank to the lowest level since 1978. The industry has taken a battering for years due to surging supplies of cheaper natural gases, brought on by better drilling technologies and increased use of natural gases to fuel power plants.

Trump's administration has since sought to kill scores of pending regulations which he said threatened industries like coal mining.

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