Mon, November 13, 2017 11:59 am

Geoff was in Houston, Texas last week at the Heartland Institute America First Energy Conference. The general feeling from the conference was enthusiastic, not only about the Astros winning the World Series, but also about the new administration and its ability to undo damaging legislation in the energy sector. The event was heavily attended by legislators and members of the House of Representatives so the panels were primarily focused on politics and policy. During the coal panel, it was expressed that while President Trump is unlikely to bring coal jobs back to historical norms (mostly due to automation and declining demand in the industry), he can provide a level playing field and remove all subsidies from the renewable energy industry would help baseload power generation sources the most. A reoccurring topic during the conference was the endangerment finding, which “requires the EPA to take action under the Clean Air Act to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and four other heat-trapping air pollutants from vehicles, power plants, and other industries that endanger public health and welfare.” An aging coal fleet was another area of concern for future grid reliability but little clarity was provided on a long-term solution, as adding more wind and solar to the grid introduces intermittent supplies to the system and its uneconomical to add new coal fired generation facilities. Nonetheless, optimism was apparent in regards to the President’s ability to reform the EPA and open more doors for domestic energy sources to compete on a level playing field.