March 29, 2017

Policy Shift Helps Coal, but Other Forces May Limit Effect

Clifford Krauss and Diane Cardwell - The New York Times:

Many fossil fuel executives are celebrating President Trump’s move to dismantle the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But their cheers are muted, because market forces and state initiatives continue to elevate coal’s rivals, especially natural gas and renewable energy.

In coal’s favor, there is the new promise that federal lands will be open for leasing, ending an Obama-era moratorium. Easing pollution restrictions could delay the closing of some old coal-fired power plants, slowing the switch by some utilities to other sources.

Here-in is a truth left unspoken about efforts to reinvigorate the flagging coal industry by Mr. Trump’s campaign for president, and by his current efforts. There are fewer coal jobs because of automation in the mines, mines closed for unresolvable safety violations, and declining demand for coal due to the competitive costs of other fuel sources. These offset overall demand for coal product, and they’re not going away. They cannot be regulated or legislated out of existence. You’d expect a free-market conservative to understand this basic economic fact.

Trump’s act will fail to re-employ significant numbers in the coal industry. Industry employment numbers will continue their long-trend downward slope. If what coal supporters want are window dressing and platitudes about re-employing workers in a dying industry at the expense of mine safety, clean air, and greater expansion of renewable energy sources, though, Trump is their man.

Who wouldn’t enjoy the unspoiled beauty of federal lands pockmarked by mine heads, strip mining pits, and abandoned mines slowly filling with toxic mining byproducts floating in rainwater, not to mention elevated asthma cases among children downwind of propped-up coal-fired power plants?

#Trump #GOP #fraud #coal #jobs

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