US Coal on the March… In Europe

coal-plantA recent article in the Washington Post points out that Europe’s use of coal as a fuel source has dramatically increased in the last several years. Driven largely by the dramatic rise of natural gas as a primary fuel in the US, US coal companies have been looking abroad for buyers. European utilities, pinched by the post-Fukushima backlash against nuclear, have shown themselves happy to step into that role.

The upshot of all this is that, even as US emissions have declined dramatically in recent years, European emissions appear to be on the rise again.

How big of a problem is this? Is the rise of natural gas in the US being offset by the coal renaissance in Europe? If so, what, if anything should be done? Based on last night’s State of the Union, US President Barack Obama clearly thinks so – but how much, and how?