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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

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.