Obama’s War on Coal Makes for Strange Bedfellows
Time for a pop quiz: What do Gary’s Democratic mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, Indiana’s Democratic U.S. senator, Joe Donnelly, and the state’s Republican governor, Mike Pence, have in common?
The answer: Each has recently voiced strong opposition to new EPA regulations that will, in the words of Freeman-Wilson, “harm our businesses, the workers they employ and the families they represent. … This would impair economic recovery in a city that has long trailed the rest of the country.”
Wait, the liberal mayor of a key Democratic stronghold really made that statement? Yes, she did.
Well, then, what about slightly left of center Joe Donnelly? The “EPA had an opportunity to encourage Indiana to continue to innovate and diversify our energy portfolio in a way that was good for our environment and good for Indiana’s economy,” the Democrat said in a statement released by his office this week. “The final rule, however, completely missed the mark.”
Harm our businesses. Impair economic recovery. Completely missed the mark.
Fine, but surely Mike Pence’s top challengers to the Iron Throne — Democrats John Gregg and Glenda Ritz — have pledged to boldly lead Indiana off the top of Coal Mountain? Perhaps some day they will. But so far on this issue, they’ve have been as quiet as a monk in a coma.
Which tells us a lot about the too-far, too-fast reach of the Obama administration’s regulations.
To be certain, not even Mike “Ebenezer” Pence wants your children to drink coal-dust tea and breathe yellow air. Instead, what the governor and his team are striving to find is a balance between the need to continue to improve Indiana’s environment — and, for the record, we’ve actually made great progress on that in recent decades — and the ongoing struggle to retain and grow jobs in the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation.
It’s not an easy path to navigate. And I wish more people on the left would, as Donnelly and Freeman-Wilson have, acknowledge that.
Far too often, environmental critics pretend that energy production can somehow be decoupled from job creation. Although that may be somewhat true in the Silicon Valley, it’s not the case in the White River Valley, where the electricity-ravenous manufacturing sector is hypersensitive to higher energy costs.
It’s contradictory then to decry the recession-induced decline in incomes and the rise in child poverty in our state and at the same time champion aggressive federal rules that would recklessly undercut Indiana’s ability to create manufacturing jobs, the kind that tend to pay family-sustaining wages.
But are Obama’s sink-the-coal-barge orders really that tough?
According to a New York Times report this week, the EPA plan “could effectively end domestic demand for coal.” That’s because the new rules will “probably lead to the closing of hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”
And all of that “ending and closing” would happen in 15 years or less.
That’s a fast transition — the kind that could easily undercut the manufacturing sector’s growth — for a state that for now is admittedly much too-dependent on burning coal to generate electricity.
I’m not saying that you’ll get my coal shovel only by prying it from my cold, dead hands. I am saying that one-size fits-all rules handed down by Washington bureaucrats may well leave us feeling as sad as a poor boy at the prom whose date didn’t show. Give us a minute, please.
One day coal likely will be a relic from the past. And in time, wind, solar and other clean energy sources may well propel us to new heights.
But we’re not there yet, and the long transition to that new day needs to be carefully managed. Ignoring that reality by pushing too hard could cause a lot of pain for a lot of hard-working Hoosiers.
See the article here.
- On August 18, 2015