Trump and the end of Obama’s bitter ‘war on coal’

In Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Life, People, Politics, Science, The Big Picture by E. Calvin Beisner0 Comments

Cornwall Alliance advisory board member Dr. H. Sterling Burnett, who is also a research fellow on energy and environment at the Heartland Institute, published a great piece at The Hill a couple of days ago. Here are some excerpts:

Before he was elected president, Barack Obama promised to bankrupt coal companies, and after eight years of his administration’s anti-energy policies, that pledge turned out to be one of the few promises he kept. Obama imposed regulations limiting coal mining near streams and on mountain tops, allowed cities to block the expansion of coal export terminals and rail lines, and enacted limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, including many that were not justified by any reasonable calculation of human health benefits. His policies contributed to massive job losses in coal country, the premature shuttering of vital coal-fired power plants, and were a factor in profitable coal companies being forced to file for bankruptcy.

As a candidate for president, Donald Trump promised he would enact policies that would end the “war on coal” launched by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, halting or slowing the loss of jobs related to coal mining and coal-fired power plants, and he is doing just that.

Coal’s virtue is its reliability and abundance; America has a coal supply beneath U.S. soil that could last 200 to 400 years. While many coal-fired power plants have closed because they are unable to compete with low-cost gas-fired power plants, dozens of coal-fired power plants and mines were shuttered prematurely under Obama due to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, policies Trump has started to reverse.

For instance, in its first use of the Congressional Review Act under Trump, Congress halted a so-called “Stream Protection Rule” imposed by Obama that would have threatened over one-third of the nation’s coal-mining jobs. The Interior Department’s own reports show the rule was unnecessary, since coal mines have virtually no offsite impacts and lands are being restored successfully under existing federal and state regulations.

Trump also issued two “Energy Independence” executive orders affecting coal. One ended a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land and the second declared federal agencies should no longer consider speculative climate change impacts when implementing federal contracts, issuing permits, or formulating planned uses of federal lands.

At Trump’s direction, EPA is in the process of reviewing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and the expectation is the Trump administration will rescind or significantly reshape its limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from existing and new power plants.

Trump’s early energy actions have paid job dividends in coal country. The Department of Labor reported mining jobs in America grew by 11,000 in March and by another 7,000 in May. In June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the United States had since the beginning of 2017 added more than 50,000 jobs throughout the coal supply and use chain.

… I have no love for coal — nor for any other particular source of energy, for that matter. I don’t think coal should be subsidized, but I also don’t think it should be discriminated against by the government, which uses harmful regulations that raise electric bills but do nothing to protect human health or the environment. … [Click to read the rest.]

Featured image  courtesy of America’s Power, Flickr Creative Commons.
Dr. Beisner is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance; former Associate Professor of Historical Theology & Social Ethics, at Knox Theological Seminary, and of Interdisciplinary Studies, at Covenant College; and author of “Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate” and “Prospects for Growth: A Biblical View of Population, Resources, and the Future.”

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