Donald Trump has staked his grubby little political future in part on a supposed renaissance in dirty, backward-looking industries like coal production.

Unfortunately for him, the world doesn’t stand still for anyone, much less the imperial tonne of congealed adipose and inertia who calls himself our 45th pr*sident.

Renewable energy is our future, whereas fossil fuels are our past and rapidly fading present. That’s just the way it is. We can prepare our workers for the future or lie our asses off to make them feel better. Guess which path Trump has taken?

In April, we got a glimpse of that future. The production of renewable energy — once considered the bailiwick of kooks, vegans, unscrubbed hippies, and pie-eyed, dope-smoking liberals (i.e., me) — has now passed that of coal for the first time in our country’s history.


The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced Wednesday that, in April, “U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time.”

While coal provided 20% of U.S. power in April, renewables — which include utility-scale hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass — provided 23% of total generation.

And as you can see, this has been a consistent trend for more than a decade. In other words, it’s not going to stop.

Coal generation is cyclical, dropping in the spring and fall, so it’s likely it will regain its edge shortly. But eventually, if these trends hold (and they almost certainly will, despite Trump’s efforts at sabotage), renewable energy will eclipse coal for good.

Renewables will likely top coal in the next decade, but the exact timing will depend on who the president is in 2021. President Donald Trump is trying to hold on to the dirty energy sources of the past, while all the Democrats running have promised to speed up the switch to clean energy in order to protect public health and avoid catastrophic climate change.

As renewables continue to fall in price, they’ll begin to out-compete fossil fuels. So a Green New Deal — or at the very least a greater emphasis on clean, cutting-edge technologies — isn’t just good for our planet, it’s vital for the future of our economy.

Maybe someday we’ll have a president who understands that. 

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  • June 27, 2019
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