Energy & Environment

The war on coal

The war on coal
Coal miners listen to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Beallsville, Ohio.

Allen Black is a casualty in the Obama administration’s war on coal.

He worked in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky for two decades earning upwards of $70,000 a year and was financially secure enough to help support his son’s pre-medical studies at a private university.

After losing his job on April 29, Black had no choice but to clear out his retirement savings to supplement his only income of $350 a week in unemployment and is now struggling to take care of his family at home, in addition to his son’s textbooks, food and other college expenses.

“You do what you’ve got to do for your kids,” Black told Human Events last week. “He’s worked hard, he’s earned it, and I’m proud of him. We’ll find a way.”

Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania—the heart of Appalachia—have been hardest hit by nine regulations proposed or finalized by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that critics say will cripple this region’s coal industry.

“There was a massive migration out of Appalachia going north to build cars in the 1960’s because there were no jobs here. Coal is the only industry and when it fails, we all fail. We have another migration but this time we have nowhere to migrate to,” Black said.

“It’s really sad that government policies could make you leave a home where your family has been for generations. I’m not so sure it’s a war on coal so much as it’s a war on Appalachia,” Black said.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has enacted three significant regulations for new air emission standards with an annual cost expected to total more than $13 billion. Several more, including two proposed rules dealing with air and coal ash, could cost an additional $20 billion to $90 billion annually, according to a recent energy report by the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

The coal industry estimates its labor force at 135,000—Black is one of 2,000 who lost their jobs this year. Another 10,000 layoffs in direct and related jobs are expected in the coming months, and job loss estimates leaked from the Obama administration on the effects of just one water rule predicted another 7,000 coal jobs would be eliminated.

New coal-fired plants banned

The regulatory barrage is expected to close 175 coal-fired electric generating units, and effectively bans the opening of any new coal-fired power plants, diminishing the reliability of electricity and increasing the cost across half the nation, the Senate report said.

“I think the EPA is doing real harm to the United States with their heavy-handed activities,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), policy committee chairman and the report’s author. “It’s not just the coal plants that are suffering, it’s the entire communities because of the jobs related to it.”

“Energy security is part of our economic security and our national security, and coal is the most available, affordable reliable and secure source of energy that we have in America,” Barrasso said. “We have hundreds of years of supply, we cannot as a nation allow this to become a stranded asset.”

The Senate report expressed concerns from power companies they would be forced out of business because the upgrades are too expensive. Southern Company, a utility that covers states from Mississippi to Georgia, said electricity rationing is almost inevitable if the EPA’s timelines cannot be met.

“The cost of those regulations are real, but the benefits are unknown,” Barrasso said. “The EPA seems to be held hostage by environmental extremists, who seem to not want us to use fossil fuels of any sort.”

The U.S. has more than 1,400 coal-fired electric generating units at more than 600 power plants that produce nearly half of the country’s electricity to 60 million homes and 3.4 million businesses.

By regulating coal into oblivion, President Obama hopes that preferred alternative energy sources like wind and sun can be more competitive, Barrasso said.

“The president wants 80 percent of U.S. electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2035 and has already invested billions of taxpayer dollars, created more than 700 government programs, and populated his administration with environmental radicals and Wall Street bankers to ensure success,” the Senate report said.

400 more targeted for closure

The Sierra Club brags that its actions have forced the “retirement” of 124 coal burning power plants already and it has targeted nearly 400 more for closure.

“As old coal plants retire, we’re working to make sure that clean energy like wind and solar will step in to replace them, providing many new jobs for American workers,” the Sierra Club said.

What environmentalists and the administration don’t talk about, is that solar power alone would triple household electrical bills from $200 a month to $700 a month, according to a Heritage Foundation study.

The Obama administration has been fairly transparent when it comes to its animosity towards the coal industry, which it blames as a substantial cause of climate change.

“If somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can—it’s just that it will bankrupt them,” Obama famously declared during his 2008 campaign.

Vice President Joe Biden was equally blunt on the campaign trail. “We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what, China is building two every week. Two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States, it’s causing people to die.”

The EPA has even gone so far as to impose a climate change litmus test on American coal exports to China, Barrasso said.

Health impacts cited

According to an April 5th letter from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers, coal exports have “the potential to significantly impact human health and the environment … Consider, the example, the cumulative impacts to human health and the environment from increases in greenhouse gas emissions, rail traffic, mining activity on public lands, and the transport of ozone, particulate matter, and mercury from Asia to the United States.”

The U.S. produces one billion tons of coal annually and exports to China this year are expected to top 12 million tons.

“This is an American product that the president is attacking both at home, and its use abroad,” Barrasso said.

Biden was asked in 2008 which posed the most immediate threat to Americans— coal, terrorists, or high-fructose corn syrup. In order, he responded: “Air that has too much coal in it, corn syrup next, then a terrorist attack.”

“But that is not in any way to diminish the fact that a terrorist attack is real. It is not an existential threat to bringing down the country, but it does have the capacity, still, to kill thousands of people. But hundreds of thousands of people die and their lives are shortened because of coal plants, coal-fired plants and because of corn syrup,” Biden said.

United Mine Workers object

Obama administration policies have also annoyed leaders of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), a powerful force behind the Democratic Party that in a rare show of disloyalty skipped the party’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this month and has so far refused to endorse Obama for a second term.

“The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” said Cecil Roberts, UMWA president during an April 3 radio show in West Virginia. “I noticed this past week the vice president was talking about the campaign and he mentioned that Osama Bin Laden was dead and General Motors was alive. He should have gone on to say that the coal industry is not far behind with respect to what happened with Osama Bin Laden.”

Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, launched his own war against the Obama administration in a campaign ad last week titled “Coal Town.”

“Since the day I became governor, I fought the Obama administration’s war on coal. I took them to court and we won. I won’t let anyone push us around,” Tomblin says in the ad.

The Democratic mountain stronghold showed Obama what it thought of the anti-coal policies when voters threw 42 percent of their support to the president’s challenger in the May party primary—an inmate doing time in a Texas federal prison for extortion.

“People think we are crying wolf but these anti-coal polices are going to cripple this nation,” Black said. “I’m all for taking care of the environment—I don’t think there is anyone who loves being in the hills more than coal miners and we respect it.”

“I want to see us come up with clean energy without doing any damage, but the facts are not there yet. For it to be economically feasible is 20 years away. Until then, instead of throwing our money away on various government projects, why don’t we spend some money trying to figure out how to burn coal more cleanly?” Black said.

However, coal’s future in Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy looks bleak.

“Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. moved forward with an all-of-the-above energy strategy: Oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, biofuels, wind, geothermal, solar—all of it. All of it,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

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  • redwolf6911

    Why in the heck is a political appointee allowed to destroy not only jobs but an entire industry, homes and lives of people. This idiot woman must go. If Obama wins a second term, then the EPA needs to be defunded. She can not do some of these idiotic things without money and that goes for Obama.

  • Julia A. Hufford

    Right you are! And Lisa Jackson is not the problem; There are systemic problems that will have to bee changed, such as not allowing the Supreme Court to have the final say; THEY TOO must have a check and balance on them, because it was a Supreme Court order, giving power to any administration to declare Carbon a pollutant which gave the Bush Administration, and then then the Obama Administration, permission to do so. Constitutionally, WE THE PEOPLE must insist that Congress take it’s position of being accountabililty toward the Supreme Court seriously. They can override a Presidential Veto, the Constitution HAS TO CONTAIN a way to override the Supreme Court, IF THEY HAVE THE STONES TO USE IT!!!! If they don’t, then THEY NEED TO BE OVERRIDDEN, in ensuing elections! The Declaration begins with, “We the People”, for a REASON!!!

  • richardcancemi

    I believe that the Obama Administration wants to tear down America and install Socialism. The environmentalists and the bullying EPA care more about a snail or fish or tree than they do about a human being. These are the ones who say they care about “people” but are so full of it that it makes me sick. The Progressives have dumbed down this Country and indoctrinated so many people into hard core America-haters, that 50% of the Country fawn over and slobber for Obama, who is not only the first ‘Black’ President, but also the first ‘Red’ President. His hope of continuing his goal to take down (“fundamentally change”) America rests on these misguided fools. He has bought them and made them dependent on government. The Constitution must not be thrown away for a Communist Manifesto. Obama must be voted out in the next election or else he will finalize his intentions. Vote for America not Obama! Vote for a proven Free Enterprise system, which is a proven success, not Socialism which has failed wherever it has been installed. Individual freedom is superior to collective slavery.

  • DocFreeman

    Interior Secretary Ken Salazarlef left out coal on purpose. We have so much coal that could be exported, save jobs, even create more jobs, that would help the economy and that is not what Obama and his administration want.

  • Al

    Now is not the time to invoke new regulations that would close a source of energy. The people should get behind the coal miner’s unions and push for a delay in implementing those regulations.
    You make a good point about exporting coal. Seems like there would be a market for it somewhere.

  • Dugan Jennings

    back off…these people need work…get your head out of your ass Mr O

  • Jr Branscomb

    Who will have the money to pay the electric bills for solar and wind? Coalminers are what keeps the lights burning in the White House. The EPA needs to be shut down or fire ALL of them and put in someone who knows something about fueling power plants. We’ve burned coal for hundreds of years and it provides jobs,jobs and more jobs as well as the wattage(power) to run industry!!!!

  • wearyconservative1946

    Delay, hell! These regulations need to be trash canned once and for all, along with 99.9% of the rest of the average 80,000 pages a year of new regulations added since this swine bellied twerp took office.

  • MichMike

    Why is this such a big deal. If electric bills go from 200 / month to 700 / month obama will just send us money to pay the difference. obama has a never ending pot of money he keeps filled by borrowing from the Chinese and printing trillions more. No problem. You guys must be racist.

  • globalcrap

    Now America knows the meaning of the words O Bogus used when O Bogus said,”I will transform America”He believes Into a third world country without hope or jobs.

  • loshombre

    There you have it. President Obama’s plan is working. “Death to America!”

  • Erc Seitz

    Elections have consequences.

    Obama made it clear in 08″ that he did not like coal and the result from his administration would make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket”.

  • ferryman

    If it were up to me, everyone working at the EPA would be out of a job instead.

  • Borghesius

    Breaking Update: Alpha Natural Resources, Morgantown WV, 9-18-2012 announces the closing of 8 coal mines, 1200 direct job losses. Indirect job losses not calculated.

    Please note that in classic Chicago patronage style, Obama only cares about jobs of his supporters. Once a State is determined to be against him such as WV, it gets PUNISHED. Barack Obama was in my home state, Ohio, yesterday, and the news played endless loop of Obama supporters saying “Yeah, I’m better off than I was 4 years ago.” Because he is a pay off supporters kinda guy. Stimulus (much of which went to aid to state and local governments to preserve and extend pay and benefits to teachers and gov’t employee unions), Solyndra, GM Bailout, is all vote buying with future and printed money.

    Guys and gals: once you kill the Goose, THERE ARE NO MORE GOLDEN EGGS.

  • Borghesius

    Sounds drastic, illegal, and dangerous. People on medical devices would die. Instead, install a save the planet fee. Everyone who believes in the need to limit CO2 (otherwise known as plant food/ vital photosynthesis component) and votes for democrats should pay a 100% electricity surcharge to retrain out of work coal miners and hire welfare recipients to WORK planting trees along highway medians (just don’t breath too hard). Obama should have to go to campaign stops in a caravan of Chinese or Indian manufactured bicycles, since we have driven bicycle manufacturing out of Dayton Ohio.

    I don’t have all the details worked out yet…

  • Borghesius

    Not out of work, Maybe picking up trash along the highway and cleaning up streams/rivers in orange jumpsuits after watching PSA reruns of Iron Eyes Cody “the crying Indian”.

  • pappap42

    And yet the coal miners union (leaders?) will still not say anything bad about oBUMo, talk about stupid. And this is going to happen to the other unions also, but they just can’t or won’t see it.

  • mkat68

    “Individual freedom is superior to collective slavery.”
    Absolutely brilliant!!

  • Dale Spencer

    A coal mining company in W. VA just announced the closing of 8 mines and layoffs of 1,200

  • Dale Spencer

    Ladies and Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, we are in dire straits of the WORST president ever in our country’s worst times.

  • KentCrawford

    More effective would be for the miner’s to give Obama and the Dems a “vot of no confidence” in November. Vote against every democrat on the ballot. And demand that the union stop supporting democrats and start supporting republicans. We need economic growth, not Obama’s war on coal, war on success, war on workers and war on the truth.

  • KentCrawford

    The problem is not so much the agencies themselves, though most should be defunded and cancelled, but that in the enabling legislation they were given the power to regulate. So the abuse of power follows naturally, like night follows day. One simple answer would be for Congress to remove their power to regulate. Let them submit proposals to Congress instead of just irresponsibly writing a regulation…

  • KentCrawford

    We have seen the Obama agenda before. “New Economic Policy (NEP) was an economic plan proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who called it ‘state capitalism.’ Allowing some private ventures, the NEP allowed small animal businesses or smoke shops, for instance, to reopen for private profit while the State continued to control banks, foreign trade and large industries.”

    Let’s see now, ObamaCare grabs control of the health care sector, we have Government Motors, DoAgriculture has de facto control over farming, … Give him four more years and he will give us the first iteration of the Soviet Union!

  • Schrecken

    Obama wants people to think that he stands up for the middle class – but there will be a lot less middle class left once he kills off coal! If my power bill doubled guaranteed I’d be burning only one or two light bulbs at night and using little else that runs on electricity! Just like people do in third world countries!

    There’s an old saying “it rains on the just and the unjust” – that can be extrapolated to also mean that both people who do and don’t support and vote for Obama will be forced to suffer under these draconian regulations. Of course, in the most twisted liberal mind these massive increases in electric rates will somehow be the fault of George W Bush, the Repubs in congress, or simply greedy CEOs of power companies – anything but the real cause.

  • podunk1

    agreed! Romney needs to light a fuse under the obaminites by putting a number to the money that would be recirculated in the USA if we opened up land drilling across the USA NOW & also fire up every coal electricity plant ASAP to shut off all foreign oil & energy ASAP with with the urgency of saving AMERICA!

  • littledon

    Hey! Everybody We all know Obama stands for “Nobody” except for the following: Obama!, Obama!, and Obama! I forgot also the “Muslim Brotherhood”! My prayers are with the Coal Miners and there Family’s! This is sad what the EPA is doing to us American’s!
    God Bless America!!!!!

  • Mad Mmaxxx

    Seems like OWEBAMA ‘s Environmental NAZI’s succeeded on turning the unions against him. With out their support there will be no second term for him. Could’nt have happened at a better time. This is just the tip of the iceberg cause he forgets about uion solidarity. This may turn some of the other unions out of fear his Enviro NAZI’s will turn on them also.
    Wonder how he is going to weezle out of that one????

  • a. palmer jr.

    Coal mining is about the only jobs that can be found where I live, it figures that the government would try to shut them down.

  • Wxcynic

    PPL Montana anounced today(21 Sept) they will close the Billings, MT coal plant due to the new EPA regs that go into effect Jan of 2015, because it cost too much to upgrade the old plant.