Coal: Trump puts industry on life support
Who cares about climate change? said Umair Irfan in Vox.com. Amid one of the hottest summers on record, the Trump administration is reversing a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to give “some of the oldest, dirtiest coal-fired power plants a few more wheezing gasps of life.” The Environmental Protection Agency wants to replace President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which imposed strict regulations on coal as part of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Trump’s plan would essentially wipe out those reductions, and put 12 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the Obama plan over the next decade. The EPA admits its new proposal will also result in about 1,400 additional deaths and 48,000 new cases of asthma from air pollution each year—all to buy a few more years for a dying industry.
Protecting the environment is important, said Tom Rogan in WashingtonExaminer.com, but Obama’s solution was “undemocratic, expensive, and damaging.” Without Congress’ support, he imposed new standards that raised energy bills—a nonissue for “wealthy liberals” but a serious imposition on poor families. The Obama administration also wrote off “suffering coal towns” while using “vast sums of money” to subsidize green energy. Obama took for granted that coal is “dying,” said Jude Clemente in Forbes.com. That’s premature, partly because the industry has spent well over $120 billion since 1990 on technologies to lower emissions, with “undeniable success.” While coal gets cleaner, the growth in wind and solar is due for a “flattening out in the 2020s,” as those industries use up their optimal real estate in sunny and windy states.
You and the president are both out of touch with reality, said Jon Talton in SeattleTimes.com. Trump brags about “putting coal miners back to work,” but in July, “the entire country had fewer than 53,000 people working in coal mining.” At most, that minuscule workforce has grown by 2,000 people since Trump took office. Automation and open-pit mining “have dramatically reduced the need” for large crews of miners, and many states were turning to cleaner, cheaper natural gas and renewable energy even before Obama’s regulations took effect. For both economic and environmental reasons, the coal industry is beyond salvation—and if we keep burning coal anyway, the planet may be, too. ■