Coal gets the shaft
By John Pippy
Published: Monday, April 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
As the chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance and a former Pennsylvania state senator, I have witnessed firsthand the unintended consequences of shortsighted government policies. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the area of energy policy.
The Obama administration, through the efforts of the EPA, has mercilessly attacked the coal industry by imposing regulations that are forcing the electric generating industry to shut down coal-fired capacity.
In turn, by reducing the domestic demand for coal, coal mines have been forced to shut down or reduce production. This has had a devastating impact on our communities that have been dependent on the coal industry.
Now we see the further impact of this misguided federal policy in Erie, where General Electric has proposed to reduce its workforce by 950 jobs. The facility builds locomotives and mining equipment, and it is not difficult to see how federal energy policy is forcing the downsizing of this coal-related workforce.
Joining the Obama administration in its campaign against the coal industry have been its special interest environmentalist friends.
Consider the case of the Homer City electric generating station in Indiana County, an important part of the economic infrastructure of that region.
Last year, the Sierra Club announced it would sue the plant's owners and operators — among them, GE — as part of a campaign to close the plant. The owners responded with detailed plans for a $725 million pollution-control upgrade that would significantly reduce emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants.
The Sierra Club's answer? No. It wanted the plant closed.
In fact, the Sierra Club's “Beyond Coal” campaign all but brags about plants it has shut down, making no mention that, with them, it ended thousands of jobs.
Evidently the Obama administration and its environmental allies do not care about how much you pay for electricity, just as they don't care about how many good-paying jobs they destroy. Make no mistake about it: Remove coal from energy production and your electric bills will rise and many of your neighbors will be laid off when the companies they work for can no longer afford their utility bills.
While reporters and analysts are quick to say that the decline in coal is linked to a rise in electric companies switching over to natural gas, be assured that when they're through with coal jobs, the opponents will come after the natural gas jobs. Obama's allied environmental groups are hard at work to halt Pennsylvania's natural gas boom.
Sometimes not all politics are local. State energy, environmental and tax policies are not to blame for the devastating cuts to the General Electric workforce. Gov. Corbett, in fact, is unambiguously on record as believing in an “all of the above” menu for energy independence: gas, wind, solar and — yes indeed — coal.
In the past decade, science and industry have made huge strides in turning coal into a clean-burning, efficient and economical source of energy for an expanding economy. It is sad that some leaders from the Potomac to the Susquehanna don't make the connection between that plant in Homer City, the mines in Pennsylvania's mountains and 950 lost jobs along the banks of Lake Erie.
If leaders are serious about saving the latter, they need to show more respect for the first two.
John Pippy is CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance (pacoalalliance.com).
Show commenting policy
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.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Aerobic fundraiser challenges attendees
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
- Pirates reserve outfielder Dickerson is also at home on soccer pitch
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- SHOOTING FOR THE STARS IN UNIONTOWN
- Geibel’s Zimcosky siblings, Mt. Pleasant’s Nelson ready for state swimming championships
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’