Noon: The Obama administration is killing coal
Since moving into the White House, Obama has used bureaucratic weapons and administrative agencies to assault America’s coal industry. Between 2008 and 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports 50,000 coal jobs were lost — that number would certainly be much greater today. West Virginia has been hit particularly hard with unemployment rates in double digits. Addressing the job losses, the Charleston Gazette-Mail blames the “liberal environmental policies that have accelerated coal’s decline” — which it says have left “hard working men and women” jobless.
In addition to the job losses, Obama’s policies have “helped spur the closing of dozens of coal plants across the country,” according to Politico. The November 2015 report states: “More than one in five coal-related jobs have disappeared during Obama’s presidency, and several major U.S. coal mining companies have announced this year that they would or may soon seek bankruptcy protection.”
On Jan. 11, Arch Coal became the biggest domino to fall when it filed for bankruptcy. Arch follows Walter Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, and Patriot Coal Corp. — all of which filed for bankruptcy in 2015. James River Coal went bankrupt in 2014. The Journal says: “Over a quarter of U.S. coal production is now in bankruptcy, trying to reorganize to cope with prices that have fallen 50 percent since 2011.” As a result, a “record number of mines are for sale” and remaining workers are receiving lower wages. In hard-hit West Virginia, starting wages have been cut 50 percent in the past few years: from around $40 an hour to $20.
CNN Money states: “Since Obama took office in January 2009, shares of many coal companies have plummeted more than 90 percent.”
The Obama administration’s latest stab at killing coal is Friday’s, announcement of a federal-lands-leasing moratorium for coal mining. Bloomberg reports that “about 40 percent of U.S. coal now comes from federal land.” The announcement came just days after Obama’s State of the Union Address pledge “to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.” In short, the plan is to halt federal leasing while the Department of Interior completes a “Programmatic Environment Impact Statement” that the agency says it can complete in three years — though government projects are seldom completed on schedule. The years-long process will include public review and participation under the National Environmental Policy Review Act. As a result, it is expected that companies will have to pay more to mine coal on public lands.
While mining can continue under existing leases, and the pause will likely have minimal impact as interest in leasing has declined with many government lease sales only having a single bidder, it sends a clear signal regarding administrative assassination. Addressing Friday’s announcement, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, declared: “If there were any lingering questions about whether the Obama administration is intent on decimating America’s coal industry, this should answer them.”
Bloomberg points out that the Obama administration is “facing mounting calls from conservationists to thwart new fossil fuel development as part of the ‘keep it in the ground’ movement” — which Murkowski says is a “misguided” effort that “will harm local economies and threaten future energy supplies.”
The assault on the coal industry pleases affluent progressive funders and then taxes all Americans for the re-education aimed at buying the support of the workers who used to have well-paying jobs — all the while hitting the pocketbook of those same Americans as coal-fueled power plant closures and expensive renewables force electricity rates to skyrocket.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.