Commentary: The ‘War on Coal’
A favored tactic by the anti-coal crowd is calling out industry supporters for their “war on coal” campaign, dismissing it as hyperbole designed to whip up frenzied opposition among those of us who are supposedly in denial about climate change and coal’s future.
For example, a Charleston Gazette editorial last year sniffed, “The ‘War on Coal’ campaign has been a smashing success, convincing the most vulnerable working people and retirees that if only they could get the nasty federal government off their backs, all would right itself to some vague and misty perfection, circa 1955.”
Of course, that’s not at all what the campaign is about, and coal opponents know it. Forget the overused military metaphor for a moment and consider what is actually happening.
The Obama administration and the EPA have taken a series of unilateral steps to make it increasingly difficult to mine and burn coal; the Clean Power Plan, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule (which the U.S. Supreme Court rejected), the Stream Buffer Rule. And last Friday the Obama administration halted new coal mining leases on federal lands.
Coal opponents choose to deny the impact of these executive actions and instead attribute coal’s decline entirely to market conditions, but as the New York Times reported, “The move represents a significant setback for the coal industry, effectively freezing new coal production on federal lands sending a signal to energy markets that could turn investors away from an already reeling industry.”
In his State of the Union address last week, the President renewed his straw man argument that the country’s energy future was a choice between “old, dirtier energy sources” and a green, clean future. That’s a false narrative that oversimplifies the energy economy.
As the Wall Street Journal opined recently, “Even after recent declines in market share, coal-fired power plants still provide roughly a third or more of American electricity. So utility customers will notice the coal carnage when they see their monthly bills—or perhaps when the lights don’t go on.”
Gov. Tomblin sounded a realistic tone about the future of coal in hisState of the State address last week when he said, “Even the most optimistic among us realize it is unlikely coal will ever reach production levels of the past.”
That’s a given even coal’s most diehard supporters understand. Hydraulic fracturing technology now provides access to mammoth supplies of natural gas and oil that were previously unretrievable.
Additionally, gigantic western coal seams make it increasingly difficult for eastern coal producers to compete. However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recentestimates West Virginia still has 1.7 billion tons of recoverable coal.
One of the definitions of “war” is a struggle to achieve a goal—think “war on drugs.” By that standard, there is indeed a war on coal, since the Obama administration, this EPA and its acolytes in the environmental community are using all available means to eliminate a cheap and reliable energy source.
See the article here.
- On January 18, 2016