Daniel Turner: Yes, the war on coal is real. But hurting our energy industry now does not help the future
Supporting coal is not popular. But only someone as bold as President Trump could do what is right, popularity be damned.
The Trump administration’s recent unveiling of the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule which grants each state autonomy to craft their own environmental requirements for coal-powered plants, has enraged the environmental left.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that ACE will “put our children and communities’ health at risk." Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington and 2020 presidential candidate who has made combatting climate change the center of his campaign, called the proposal “morally reprehensible.” Green groups have vowed to fight the plan in court.
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The plan is welcome news for the coal industry which has suffered years of political targeting. Green groups like The Sierra Club have demonized coal. Former New York City mayor and green warrior Michael Bloomberg recently pledged $500 million to close every coal plant in America. President Barack Obama made bankrupting the coal industry a goal of his administration and used the Environmental Protection Agency to issue almost 4,000 new regulations all for the express purpose of driving coal into bankruptcy. And people wonder why the coal industry is suffering? These aren’t free market forces. This is politics.
This is no secret: he said this was his plan as a presidential candidate in 2008. He just followed through.
Yes, the war on coal is real. Over the past decade, more than 80,000 coal miners lost their jobs and entire communities from Pennsylvania to New Mexico to have suffered the fallout. Whole towns have died. Opioid overdoses in those towns have skyrocketed. With such a barrage of attacks from organizations, billionaires, and even our own federal government, it’s a surprise that coal has survived at all.
Critics say the ACE rule will do everything from increase climate change, hasten extreme weather, or increase the number of asthma and other respiratory ailments. Is it true?
These same critics lauding the closure of coal plants and blocking Trump’s EPA in the courts point out that air quality has gotten worse in the past two years because of President Trump. Yes, despite coal’s demise and Trump’s legal injunctions and EPA ineffectiveness, he is still to blame for air quality. Is it true?
The best answer is this: if you have a political agenda, you can find a study and a scientist to get evidence for it. This reminds us of Shakespeare: the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
But what is true is this: we need coal. Not just for the 27 percent of the electric grid it powers but for the production of steel, concrete, silicone, carbon fiber. Coal is used in the filtration of water and air. Coal is in thousands of products we use every day. Taking away the policies which artificially raised the production cost of coal will make these products less expensive. That’s good for everybody.
Advocates say we need to move away from electricity generated from coal into cleaner forms of energy. That’s easier said than done. Obama spent eight years and $110 billion on a green agenda of electric vehicles and smart roads with a promise to save 14,000 lives a year. The program did virtually nothing. Taxpayers have subsidized renewable energy heavily: in 2016 alone over $14 billion went to help the renewables compete in the energy markets. In that same year, oil and gas contributed $6 billion in tax revenue.
Obama made wind and solar competitive by trying to eliminate their competition. It’s the Tonya Harding theory of winning. It has not worked.
Trump is a businessman and looking for an all-of-the-above policy when it comes to domestic energy production. That includes renewables and nuclear, natural gas, hydropower and biofuels, and coal.
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There is great promise in energy technology. I called my organization, a group that advocates for energy workers by taking on the radical green movement, “Power The Future” for a reason: I believe in a better tomorrow. A cleaner tomorrow. I’m an optimist and trust in American ingenuity and entrepreneurialism. But the men and women genius scientists who will make that advancement in technology and discover a better way are currently, right now, using conventional energy in their labs and research facilities. Hurting our energy industry now does not help the future, clean the future, or power the future.
Any effort the president makes to ensure reliable and inexpensive energy is worth praise.