Texas Governor Rick Perry embarked on efforts in many states including California, Illinois, Connecticut, and New York. He's hosted business meetings, appeared on TV and radio shows, and launched ad campaigns touting low-tax Texas.
Learning from Perry, President Obama could air ads and meet with leaders in Germany encouraging them to buy American coal. Ours is cleaner burning than theirs; we have plenty of it; the price has dropped; they can get it from a friendly supplier; and most importantly, Germany needs it.
Thanks to Obama's policies, we are prematurely shutting down our coal-fueled electricity generation — with the idea that we can replace it with wind and solar. Germany is prematurely shutting down its nuclear-powered fleet. It has already tried to go with wind and solar, but it is not working out so well. Since 2011, in an effort to wean the country off of nuclear and fossil fuels, the energy revolution, or Energiewende, was launched, greenhouse gas emissions have gone up and the average price of electricity for companies has jumped 60 percent — now more than double those in the United States. As nuclear plants are closed, they are being replaced with coal.
On Aug. 27, Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency, Germany's energy regulator, told an industry conference: "Those who call for an end to coal power generation don't have much interest in a reliable energy policy." Reuters reports: "Germany will continue to need coal-fired power plants."
Instead of a Perry-esque campaign to encourage countries like Germany to buy American coal — rather than coal from a country like Colombia that has lower labor costs, lax environmental policies, and, therefore, a less expensive product — Obama, once again, has gone around Congress with his plan to seek a "non-binding international accord" at next year's United Nations climate summit in Paris — which will encourage global reductions in coal usage.
It is bad enough that U.S. policies hurt American workers, so why not encourage countries that are going to buy coal anyway to buy U.S. coal?
Worse, the United States is importing Colombian coal and killing American jobs when we have the largest coal reserves in the world.
An Aug. 13 Wall Street Journal story on surging coal imports from Colombia, cites as one of the reasons — other than labor costs and a global coal glut — that Colombian coal is cheaper for utilities in the U.S. Southeast than coal from Appalachia: "it's much more cost effective to move coal by ship ... than by train." It goes on to explain: "The problem with shipping U.S. coal by rail is supply. U.S. demand for rail transport to ship crude oil, grain and other products has soared, limiting the number of rail cars available to ship coal to power plants."
The coal industry isn't asking for import caps or tariffs as others do when cheap imports are harming producers and workers. But, it could benefit from some simple sound energy policy, for example: approve the Keystone pipeline — which would free up rail space, make shipping coal within the United States more competitive, create jobs, and boost America's energy security. Politicians could also call for a removal of the stifling regulations on our own coal industry
Despite California Gov. Jerry Brown's mockery, Perry's efforts worked. In April, Toyota shocked California officials by announcing it was pulling up stakes in California and moving 3,000 jobs to Texas.
Our chief executive, our President, has the power of the bully pulpit. He should learn from Perry's efforts. A campaign-style push in countries like Germany might just work — and save American jobs and reduce the trade deficit in the process.