Make us your home page
Instagram

PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times

Trump gets it wrong on U.S., China coal connection, usage

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015 file photo, Donald Trump makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. During the debate, Trump stated that since the extremist Islamic State group is using the Internet to recruit; the tech industry needs to find a way to stop them from doing that. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) NY118

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015 file photo, Donald Trump makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. During the debate, Trump stated that since the extremist Islamic State group is using the Internet to recruit; the tech industry needs to find a way to stop them from doing that. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) NY118

The statement

"We're practically not allowed to use coal anymore. What do we do with our coal? We ship it to China and they spew it in the air."

Donald Trump, Nov. 30 on MSNBC's Morning Joe

The ruling

There's a grain of truth here, but it's buried under significant exaggeration.

In August, the Obama administration announced Clean Power Plan regulations that would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions, from 2005 levels, by 32 percent by 2030.

Advocates say the reduction would help ease global warming, along with cutting emissions that create soot and smog. But the regulatory effort has alarmed the coal industry and its allies in Congress.

"This administration's regulatory assault on coal has had the intention — and increasingly the practical effect — of taking coal out of the market," said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association. (The plan continues to be challenged in court.)

Several factors — tighter government regulations, yes, but also lower natural gas prices, and changing consumer and industry preferences — have combined to reduce the amount of coal used for electricity generation by about one-sixth since 2008.

But contrary to what Trump asserted, Popovich said, "coal is not going away."

The U.S. electric power sector consumed 858.3 million tons of coal in 2013, the most recent full year for which Energy Information Administration data is available. It was a little over 1 billion tons in 2008, the last year before the most recent recession.

Despite the decline, coal remains the single most common source for electricity generation in the United States.

In 2014, coal accounted for 39 percent of electricity generation, followed by natural gas at 27 percent, nuclear at 19 percent, hydropower at 6 percent and other renewable sources at 7 percent.

In its most recent future projection, the Energy Information Administration predicted that coal would maintain its top spot for electricity generation. Under the most basic economic parameters, coal would decline in future years due in large part to the retirement of aging coal-fired plants but would still account for 34 percent of energy generation in 2040. The enactment of policies that put coal at a disadvantage could drop that percentage further by 2040.

Beyond electricity generation, 43.3 million tons of coal were used for other industrial purposes in the United States in 2013, and 2 million tons were allocated to commercial and institutional uses.

In other words, coal usage may be slipping, but it's still in wide use around the country and will continue to be a major source of energy for the next quarter-century.

Trump also said, "We ship (coal) to China and they spew it in the air."

China is a major world user of coal, and scientists say its emissions are a major factor in climate change.

But very little of the coal produced in the United States goes to China, so any change in U.S. trade policy would have little effect on China's coal usage.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. exported 1.8 million tons of coal to China in 2014. That's less than 2 percent of all U.S. coal exports last year, which totaled 97.3 million tons to all countries combined. By comparison, the United Kingdom imports more than five times as much U.S. coal as China does, Germany imports more than twice as much U.S. coal as China does, and the Netherlands imports about seven times as much.

U.S. coal exports don't account for much of what China uses, either.

We rate this Mostly False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Trump gets it wrong on U.S., China coal connection, usage 12/23/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data

    Business

    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  2. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Legal

    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  3. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  4. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent

    Business

    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  5. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower

    Corporate

    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]