September 24 2012
Killing Coal – One Promise Obama Is Working to Keep
Carrie L. Lukas
The media is still reeling from witnessing an interview of the President during which he was actually asked to defend his record. Univision dared to ask the President to acknowledge having broken his promise on immigration reform, among other hard-hitting questions. The President and his supporters had to be squirming, a novelty given that they are accustomed to a swooning press corp.
Yet if the President wants to come back to emphasize all the promises he has kept, here is one place to start: He is making good on his promise to run the coal industry out of business.
To be fair, the President didn’t exactly promise to bankrupt coal. Instead, in 2008, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, candidate Obama explained that his energy policies would make it so someone who sought to build a coal-fired energy plant would be bankrupt because of the fines they'd have to pay for greenhouse gas emissions.
He got that right. The Wall Street Journal reports today on the raft of job loss in the industry:
Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources announced last week it is cutting 1,200 positions, as it closes eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The coal industry has been hit by competition from cheap natural gas, but Alpha made clear in its announcement that an equal problem is a Washington "regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal." That's a direct reference to the deluge of Obama Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to force the closure of coal-fired power plants.
Arch Coal announced in June that it would idle operations in Appalachia, cutting 750 full-time jobs—10% of its work force—blaming the "challenging regulatory environment." PBS Coal and its affiliate, RoxCoal, in July laid off 225 workers in Pennsylvania, citing "uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations." Consol Energy at about that time cut 318 jobs in West Virginia.
When Ohio Valley Coal in July announced its own cuts, General Manager Ronald Koontz slammed the Obama Administration for seeking to "destroy" the "jobs of our own employees and the livelihoods of their families." Mr. Koontz's pointed comments didn't get elevation, what with the media deep into the frenzy over ancient and alleged sins of Bain Capital.
This report focuses on the job loss that’s directly hit the coal industry because of regulations. Of course, it’s also worth noting that rising energy costs are doing damage to the economy across the board, making it more expensive for factories, stores, hospitals, schools, and just about every place else to operate, as well as for American families to fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes.
Let’s hope that the President grants another interview to Univision so that we might get an answer as to how exactly these burdensome regulations square with his other promises of a middleclass jobs revival.