MIT Technology Review: Here’s Why Trump’s Plan to Save the Coal Industry Is Doomed

Donald Trump’s policy efforts to rejuvenate the coal industry are unlikely to succeed.

We’ve argued that for some time, of course. But a new report from Columbia University, which shows that regulations have played only a small part in the decline of the coal industry to date, lends extra weight to the thesis.

If you’ve not been paying attention, coal has been taking a tumble recently. In America, its use fell by 30 percent between 2011 and 2016. The new analysis of what accounts for that slump makes for interesting reading: The Columbia team attributes around half of coal’s decline to the affordability of natural gas, 26 percent to reduced electricity demand, and 18 percent to surging renewables.

The Trump administration has strenuously argued that President Obama introduced rules that placed unnecessary burdens on the burning of coal. The study does indeed identify 10 regulations introduced under the Obama administration -- from the notorious Clean Power Plan to more obscure Effluent Guidelines -- that will have dampened the sector. But it also finds that they would account for just a 3.5 percent decline in coal. 

The Post & Courier: S.C. Congressional Delegation Loses Fight to Get Nuclear Tax Credit in Government Spending Bill

The budget agreement worked out in Congress has disappointed every member of the South Carolina delegation after a highly desired nuclear power plant tax credit was left out.

Excluded from the plan that's supposed to keep the government running through September is a provision extending the deadline for nuclear power plants to take advantage of the tax bonus, threatening to undermine a major economic driver in the state.

At issue is a credit Congress created in 2005 to incentivize nuclear power production. But it gave plants a 2020 deadline to complete their work in order to qualify.

The Star: Technology Guru Bill Joy Is Betting on a Bulletproof Battery

Bill Joy, the Silicon Valley guru and Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder, sees the future of energy in a battery that can take a bullet.

The venture capitalist formerly with Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers LLC is now dedicating most of his time to Ionic Materials Inc, a Woburn, Massachusetts-based startup developing lithium batteries that won’t burst into flames. They’re strong enough to withstand being pierced by nails and even getting shot, as the company demonstrates in a promotional video.

The effort is part of a global race to devise better storage systems for handheld devices, cars, trucks and electrical grids. The problem is that conventional lithium-ion batteries contain liquid electrolytes that wear out quickly and have a nasty habit of spontaneously combusting, sometimes aboard jetliners. Ionic Materials says it’s solved those problems by crafting batteries from a solid plastic-like material.

“If you can make the battery out of a solid, these problems essentially disappear,” Joy said in a phone interview, speaking from a boat in the South Pacific. “It’s really a breakthrough in cost, safety and performance.”

Morning Consult: Environmentalists Sue Over Trump’s Attempt to Undo Offshore Drilling Ban

Environmentalists sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over an executive order aimed at increasing access to offshore oil and gas production that could include areas where former President Barack Obama banned drilling.

Ten environmental organizations filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, arguing President Donald Trump does not have the legal authority to undo Obama’s indefinite ban on offshore drilling in much of the Arctic Ocean and portions of the Atlantic Ocean.

Trump signed an executive order on April 28 calling on the Department of the Interior to review the Obama administration’s plan for offshore drilling leases from 2017 to 2022, which the groups anticipate will lead to leases in areas restricted by Obama’s ban.

HuffPost: Only 2 Countries Aren’t Part of the Paris Agreement. Will the U.S. Be the Third?

Just two countries refused to partake in the Paris Agreement, the historic climate deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions that was signed by nearly every nation. One of them, Syria, is in ruins after six years of ongoing civil war. The other, Nicaragua, boycotted the accord to protest its unambitious initial goals and its failure to legally bind countries to their emissions targets.

The one other holdout, Uzbekistan, finally signed onto the agreement last month.

But now President Donald Trump is poised to withdraw the United States -- which was largely responsible, under the Obama administration, for orchestrating the deal -- from the Paris Agreement.

In 2016, Trump campaigned on a promise to “cancel” the deal, which he said put an unfair burden on the U.S. and gave poorer countries a pass. The U.S., second only to China in its amount of carbon pollution, committed to slashing emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.