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Expand chart
Data: The Brattle Group; Note: Figures are for production and mining jobs for coal-fired power generation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

An analysis by an energy-focused consultancy circulated Tuesday concludes that President Trump's sweeping push to bolster fossil fuels across the board by cutting regulations and production constraints means natural gas will likely keep and even expand its advantage over coal in electricity markets.

Why it matters: The Brattle Group's analysis, which was presented to the Energy Bar Association Tuesday, highlights a major tension running through Trump's pro-fossil fuel initiatives: Helping coal is tougher when you're supporting natural gas too.

What they examined: Brattle forecast the production and employment effect of pro-coal policies, like killing EPA's big power industry climate rule and rolling back mining regulations, in concert with the Trump administration's wider support of fossil fuels.

The bottom line: Their analysis predicts that the pro-coal efforts in isolation would indeed likely boost production of coal used for power generation and mining jobs, compared with what's expected under the baseline of Obama-era rules in the near-term (2020) and medium term (2030).

  • However, combined with policies that affect oil-and-gas producers, like making more areas available for drilling and cutting royalties, Trump's overall approach (the "pro-fossil" case in the chart above) is actually forecast to be worse for coal than the Obama policy baseline.

The gritty details: The report shows that the across-the-board support for fossil fuels will cut coal production by 220 million tons in 2020 and 210 million tons in 2030 compared with the Obama baseline, leading to net mining employment losses of 13,000-16,000 jobs.

  • Yes, but: Like any effort to predict the future, a few dollops of caution are warranted here, and the presentation notes that the findings are "preliminary results" based on "what if" scenarios.

Wild card: Those potential outcomes do not include the effect of the new Energy Department proposal to bolster revenues for coal and nuclear plants in some markets based on their "resilience and reliability" contribution to the grid.

  • Whether and how much the proposal would bolster coal-fired power generation depends on variables including gas prices and how exactly the policy would be structured under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Monday announced a new COVID vaccine mandate for all private companies.

Why it matters: De Blasio, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said the "first-in-the-nation measure" will go into effect starting Dec. 27. It will apply to approximately 184,000 businesses.

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

5 hours ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.