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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new report commissioned by the Energy Department recommends promoting coal for use in other, higher tech ways than electricity.

Why it matters: The report, authored by coal executives, is an implicit acknowledgment that despite President Trump’s so far empty promises to help economically struggling coal plants, coal’s past as America’s dominant power source is no reflection on its future.

The big picture: Coal’s share of the U.S. electricity mix has plummeted from nearly 50% to below 30% in the past decade, fueled by growth in cheap, cleaner-burning natural gas and tougher environmental regulations.

Where it stands: The report was written by the National Coal Council, a federal advisory committee to Energy Secretary Rick Perry made up of executives across the coal industry. It finds that coal can be refined into what can seem like limitless products, but the ones with the most growth potential include:

  • Carbon fiber as a lighter weight and stronger replacement for steel and aluminum in cars, wind turbines and more.
  • Rare earth minerals, which are used in a wide variety of renewable energy technologies.
  • Graphene, a material used in medical devices.

What’s next: The report, which is being sent to Perry on Thursday, recommends the Energy Department create a research and development program to help bring down the costs of these technologies and also to find ways to encourage private investment into this space.

Go deeper: Coal seeks new life in high tech

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Why Trump may still fire Barr

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning

Xi Jinping reviews troops during a military parade in Beijing last year. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.