King Coal’s big come­back

Trump is re­viv­ing the en­ergy in­dus­try Obama tried to kill

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Stephen Moore

Buried in an other­wise hum­drum jobs re­port for March was the jaw-drop­ping pro­nounce­ment by the Labor Depart­ment that min­ing jobs in Amer­ica were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in Oc­to­ber 2016 and fol­low­ing years of painful lay­offs in the min­ing in­dus­try, the min­ing sec­tor has added 35,000 jobs.

What a turn­around. It comes at a time when lib­er­als have been say­ing that Don­ald Trump has been ly­ing to the Amer­i­can peo­ple when he has said that he can bring coal jobs back. Well, so far he has.

There’s more good news for the coal in­dus­try. Ear­lier this month Pe­abody Coal — Amer­ica’s largest coal pro­ducer — moved out of bank­ruptcy and its stock is ac­tively

trad­ing again. Its mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion had sunk by al­most 90 per­cent dur­ing the Obama years. Arch Coal is also out of bank­ruptcy.

It turns out that elec­tions do have con­se­quences af­ter all. Regime change in Wash­ing­ton has brought King Coal back to life since late 2016 when coal pro­duc­tion had fallen by al­most half from its peak. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and its al­lies like the Sierra Club tried to kill coal be­cause of its hy­per-ob­ses­sion with global warm­ing. Pres­i­dent Trump pledged to coal min­ers in small towns across Amer­ica — in Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia, West Vir­ginia and Wy­oming — that he would be a friend to Amer­i­can coal and fos­sil fu­els.

As promised, Mr. Trump has lifted the so-called Clean Power Plant reg­u­la­tions and sev­eral other En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency rules that were in­ten­tion­ally de­signed to kill coal jobs (and thou­sands more in re­lated in­dus­tries like truck­ing and steel) and shut­ter coal plants, which it ac­com­plished with ruth­less pre­ci­sion. Hil­lary Clin­tonb had promised her green al­lies that she would fin­ish off ev­ery last coal-min­ing job in Amer­ica.

The coal min­ers weren’t too happy about this, and her ar­ro­gant dis­re­gard for a lead­ing Amer­i­can in­dus­try that hires tens of thou­sands of union work­ers contributed to her losses in al­most all the coal states — many of which were once re­li­ably Demo­cratic.

Amer­ica was built on cheap and abun­dant coal. Fos­sil fu­els pow­ered the United States into the in­dus­trial age and re­placed in­ef­fi­cient wind­mills and wood­burn­ing as the pri­mary sources of elec­tric­ity. Amer­ica cur­rently has ac­cess to 500 years worth of coal — far more than any other na­tion. Even de­spite the last decade’s war on coal dur­ing the Obama years, the U.S. still de­rives about one-third of our power from coal — sec­ond only to nat­u­ral gas.

Coal is in­dis­pens­able to­day even if re­new­able “green” en­ergy starts to catch on, be­cause wind and so­lar power are only vi­able with coal­burn­ing power plants as a backup for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. With­out coal green en­ergy means rolling black­outs across Amer­ica.

Lib­er­als have ar­gued that coal could never make a come­back be­cause of cheap nat­u­ral gas. Clearly, the shale gas rev­o­lu­tion with prices fall­ing from $10 to $3 per mil­lion cu­bic feet has hurt coal pro­duc­ers.

But economic ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion, and coal com­pa­nies like Pe­abody have fig­ured out how to be­come far more ef­fi­cient in their pro­duc­tion. What’s more, clean coal is here. Emis­sions from coal plants of lead, sul­phur, carbon monox­ide and other air pol­lu­tants have fallen by more than half, and in some cases, by 90 per­cent in re­cent decades.

The cli­mate change in­dus­trial com­plex pon­tif­i­cates that the United States must stop us­ing coal to save the planet. But even if the U.S. cut our own coal pro­duc­tion to zero, China and In­dia are build­ing hun­dreds of coal plants. By sus­pend­ing Amer­i­can coal pro­duc­tion, we merely trans­fer jobs out of the U.S. Do lib­er­als care more about jobs in In­dia and China than in Amer­ica?

Re­new­able en­ergy is at best one or two decades away from be­ing a ma­jor en­ergy source for the world, so un­til that hap­pens, coal and nat­u­ral gas will com­pete as low-priced, su­per-abun­dant and do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced en­ergy sources for 21st cen­tury Amer­ica.

Nu­clear power will hope­fully con­tinue to play an im­por­tant role, too. For all the talk about the in­crease in wind and so­lar in­dus­tries, they still ac­count for less than 5 per­cent of our en­ergy. Al­most 70 per­cent comes from nat­u­ral gas and coal.

Coal isn’t dead in Amer­ica. It is un­leashed. As a Wash­ing­ton Times ed­i­to­rial put it very well re­cently, “The left gave up on the 100,000 coal work­ers in Amer­ica more than a decade ago. Don­ald Trump has not.” Re­mem­ber this the next time El­iz­a­beth War­ren or Nancy Pelosi lec­ture us about how much they care about the work­ing class in Amer­ica.

For all the talk about the in­crease in wind and so­lar in­dus­tries, they still ac­count for less than 5 per­cent of our en­ergy. Al­most 70 per­cent comes from nat­u­ral gas and coal.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH

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