Electricity for 90 per cent of the Texas grid is controlled from a high security room in Taylor, Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, acts as a traffic director to avoid congestion on transmission lines. ERCOT also effectively sets the market price for the wholesale cost of electricity by accepting or rejecting offers from electricity providers. (photo: Lorne Matalon)
AUSTIN, Texas–A closely watched energy survey at the University of Texas at Austin says Americans still like coal, a contributor to global climate change. At the same time, however, a majority says that climate change is real.
The poll’s findings reflect what the survey’s authors suggest is “a disconnect between energy market conditions—which show a steady decline in the use of coal—and statements made by President Trump.
He has pledged to revitalize coal. Most experts agree that current market conditions—-an abundance of inexpensive natural gas and increasingly competitive forms of renewable energy—will prevail against coal. Yet 43 per cent of Americans want Mr Trump to revive the embattled U.S. coal industry.
• 64 percent of Republicans want Trump to take action on coal. That’s double the 32 percent of Democrats who don’t want coal to be further developed.
• The percentage of Americans who say rising global temperatures are “mostly due to natural forces has increased from 5 percent to 20 percent in the last year.
Other recent polls have found strong bipartisan support for renewable energy and weaker support for coal itself. A North Carolina Republican poll found that 83 percent of voters there would support a candidate who seeks to expand renewables; that position drew heavy support from Republicans and Trump voters specifically.
A different Republican firm a few months ago found that 75 percent of Trump voters support “action to accelerate the deployment and use of clean energy.” Green Tech Media’s Julian Spector writes that the seeming contradiction might indicate that support for both kinds of energy, coal & renewables, means supports for jobs rather than what Green Tech Media’s Julian Spector calls “an intricate evaluation of the nation’s energy mix.”
Spector also reports that the Trump administration has moved to scrap President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, which were designed to shift electricity production away from coal and toward cleaner alternatives. The administration has prioritized coal extraction, while proposing budget cuts to Department of Energy programs that foster renewable energy innovation.