While most of the world is transitioning away from coal, Japan is embracing it.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster forced the country to rethink its nuclear power program, the New York Times reports that the country plans to build 22 new coal-burning power plants within the next five years.
Currently, Japan relies on coal for more than a third of its power, and will still rely on coal to produce about a quarter of its energy needs in 2030.
The 22 power plants are expected to emit as much carbon dioxide as all the passenger cars sold each year in the U.S.
Residents living near the proposed plants sued the Japanese government, saying the project was approved without a proper environmental assessment. The plaintiffs say the plant will degrade local air quality and endanger communities by contributing to climate change.
Electric utilities in Japan and the U.S. have found that coal is becoming more expensive than investing in new renewable resources.
Utilities in the U.S. have started retiring coal-fired plants or transitioning existing plants to natural gas.
Despite that reality, the governments of both nations have adopted policies to prop up the coal industry.
In the U.S., the Trump administration has rolled back a series of environmental regulations that directly affect emissions from coal-fired utilities.
The Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill that would seek to slow down the rate at which coal-fired power plants are retired. One of the most controversial facets of House Bill 1414 is its requirement that utility companies seek the permission of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to decide to retire or refit coal-fired power plants.
The bill now heads to the Indiana Senate for consideration.