In May, the Senate Republican Policy Committee published Obama’s War on Coal, an analysis of President Obama’s campaign to ban the use of coal as an energy source. Turns out, ensuring coal-fired power plants go “bankrupt” is one promise the President is trying to keep. His Energy Information Administration reports that 8.5 percent of total 2011 coal-fired power capacity will retire by 2016. In context, that is four times greater than the capacity retired during the preceding five years. The slated closure of 175 coal-fired electric generating units (EGUs) in response to the President’s regulatory barrage means diminished electric reliability, higher electricity costs disproportionately burdening low-income families and seniors, and more jobs lost.
This year alone at least 2,000 jobs have been lost in the coal industry. Coal mining companies recently laid off more than 250 workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania and plan to layoff an additional 1,150 workers in West Virginia and Kentucky. The closure of 16 coal-fired EGUs in Ohio will result in nearly 1,000 power plant employees out of work. Combined with five more coal-fired EGUs expected to shut down in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the Ohio Valley could lose as many as 9,000 direct, indirect, and related jobs.
President Obama has presided over 41 straight months of unemployment above eight percent. He should be trying to save every single job possible. Yet he stubbornly insists on regulating coal so his preferred energy sources can be more competitive. In doing so, he is denying Americans all of the above affordable electricity and economic opportunity. The President should retreat from his war on coal and embrace this abundant, reliable energy source as the powerful tool it can be for restoring America’s economy and putting people back to work.