Share This Page

Bid to kill coal likely just the beginning

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

It must be tougher than usual to be a coal miner these days. The future of their living grows murkier.

One would expect better than average job security in work that's dangerous, dirty and never famous for social prestige.

Good pay and benefits, yes, but how many people in this age of clean fingernails care to engage in the digging trades?

And now we've got a government at war with coal. Cheered on by environmentalists who hate it like poison. Literally, like a toxin dangerous to life on the planet, by way of its emissions of “greenhouse gases” when burned. The proliferation of these chemicals in the atmosphere warms the world, intensifies storms, droughts and floods, and in time will raise the oceans, the true believers say.

It's not enough that the Obama administration has practically declared no more coal-fired electric plants will be built in the United States. The implied threat is that it will find a way to stop them, should any utility be so bold as to defy Big Brother.

Now the doomsdayers don't even want coal exported.

Keep it locked in the earth, they plead. It's the only safe place. Shipping it overseas just removes us technically as climate killers. Foreign customers, especially in China, become our hit men.

A onetime counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency the other day called exports of coal “the single biggest flaw in U.S. climate policy.”

It's as if the fellow never heard of a balance of payments problem: how we've got to sell overseas if we expect to buy from there.

Don't cheer energy exports, says another energy consultant. They're “chopping away bit by bit” at the slender gains Americans have made cutting our spews of carbon dioxide into the air.

Particularly objectionable to the kill-coal crowd are three new terminals being built on the West Coast to ship across the Pacific. It's like a funhouse mirror of the normal reaction you'd expect to such improvements (not even to mention the construction work being created).

But environmental fear mongering seems to trump a good thing like exports all the time.

America will export natural gas, perhaps even oil, one of these days too, given economic common sense and the great discoveries being made in deep shale formations. But liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on the East Coast to serve Europe are getting the fishy eye, and you can bet will face the maximum possible bureaucratic delays.

There's no really practical form of mass-produced energy that environmentalists will cheer for. Their fears have made non-polluting nuclear energy absurdly expensive and over-regulated. They're killing coal. They accept natural gas, but it still (ugh!) burns. Only windmills and solar displays they truly embrace. Now why didn't coal miners think of going into something nice and clean like that?

Jack Markowitz is a columnist for Trib Total Media. Email jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.