President Obama’s War on Coal is Backfiring
President Obama’s anti-coal policies are well documented, and while he boasts of his desire for the U.S. to become energy independent, he has worked tirelessly to prevent the coal industry from operating successfully. Yet, coal “has literally been the rock that has powered America with cheap, reliable energy” for decades. Try squaring that circle.
We have anecdotal evidence from coal miners themselves that the regulations imposed by the Obama administration are crushing them. The Roanoke Times reports:
“Rick Axthelm, Alpha’s director of government and external affairs, said the company has given both to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Senate candidate George Allen.
“There have been such a slew of regulations promulgated simultaneously by the administration, many of which seem directly targeted at the coal industry,” Axthelm said. “We try not to feel paranoid, but when there are rules being issued that highlight specific regions of the country such as Appalachia and specifically target coal within that region, then it’s hard not to feel targeted by the Obama administration and particularly the EPA.” (emphasis added)
The EPA’s “penchant for heavy handedness” has adverse effects not only on those in the coal industry but on every American. Moreover, many EPA rules and regulations “provide little to no benefit, or are based on weak scientific and empirical evidence.” In short, they fail a simple and straightforward cost-benefit analysis.
Some suggest that one market factor that has contributed to the decline of the coal industry is that natural gas prices have “gone through the floor,” due to hydraulic fracturing. While it is true we have a glut of natural gas, the same is true for coal. One senator who represents six coal counties said that there is plenty of coal on top of the ground for purchase; there’s just not the demand. And make no mistake, that lack of demand stems, in part, from the Obama administration and the EPA discouraging the purchase and use of coal through onerous environmental regulations.
Moreover, as Heritage’s Nick Loris has noted, the increase in demand for natural gas is a good thing for Americans because “Fuel-switching for economic reasons is sensible.” He continues:
“There’s certainly no reason the U.S. should continue to mine coal or build coal-fired power plants just for the sake of using coal. But there’s also no reason why the federal government should artificially reduce coal’s role in energy production.”
The time for coal’s natural demise may or may not be here, but there is little doubt radical environmentalists and the Obama administration are pushing it to a premature end; and those in the coal industry sense that most of all. Political leaders and lawmakers would do well to take their fingers off the scale and let the market determine which sources of energy will be in demand by the American people.