Trump ends war on American coal

Trump ends war on American coal
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE promised when he was running for president that he would repeal regulations that kill jobs. The Clean Power Plan of the Obama administration is Exhibit A. On the campaign trail in states like Ohio and West Virginia, I saw firsthand how the Clean Power Plan regulations were decimating proud coal towns where economic activity was replaced with unemployment lines and drug use.

This week, the White House announced its plan for overturning the most onerous features of that law, which will throw a lifeline to the American coal industry. Trump is not eliminating clean air standards as the environmentalists are moaning. The new rules would continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in a way that would ensure that the regulatory steamroller does not flatten an industry that employs tens of thousands of Americans and contributes tens of billions of dollars to our economy. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that the new rule will save coal producers $400 million a year in compliance costs and thousands of jobs.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the left is apocalyptic about these new rules because they want to destroy the American coal industry, no matter how clean coal gets. The Clean Power Plan intentionally set such stringent emission rules that coal producers could not possibly meet them. So coal companies one by one would go bankrupt. Cheap natural gas has proved to be a formidable competitor to coal producers. But the main problem for coal today is not due to Schumpeterian market based “gales of creative destruction.” This is a government directed execution. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC Clinton: Hard to ignore 'racial subtext of virtually everything Trump says' MORE promised that if she were elected president, she would eliminate every coal job in America, yet she wonders why she got clobbered in Ohio, Kentucky, Wyoming and West Virginia.

The left wants coal production stopped, even though clean coal is not a fiction. It is here. Coal production and coal burning is much cleaner than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The real pollutants from burning coal including lead, soot, carbon monoxide and smog have fallen by 50, 60, 80 and even 90 percent over the last several decades. The air we breathe today is much cleaner than it has been 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Even with the new Trump administration rules, the Energy Information Agency projects carbon output to decline 28 percent by the end of the next decade.

Trump is right to stop the government massacre of coal. America was - and still is built on fossil fuels. In my book, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy,” I point out the irony that the industrial revolution, when our nation built factories, steam engines, railroads and so on, was made possible by an energy revolution that ditched the inefficiencies of windmills and sundials for powerful coal and oil. But now we have environmentalists who want to turn back the clock and force us to power our $20 trillion industrial economy with energy sources from before the industrial age. Left wing environmental groups are even admitting that once they have killed coal, they are coming after natural gas and oil.

This is an economic death march. Despite all of the talk about a green energy takeover, we still get about 70 percent of our energy from fossil fuels including coal. In 2017, a third of all our electric power came from coal, while solar power and its tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies provided less than 2 percent. The United States is also the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have a 500 year supply of coal, far more than any other nation. For America not to produce coal would be like Nebraska not growing corn. At the very least, coal plants are necessary to back up wind and solar energy, otherwise America is going to experience rolling blackouts and brownouts that will greatly jeopardize our economy and our safety.

Here is the most important point of all. Let us assume for a moment that, God forbid, America were to shut down every coal plant on the continent and every coal miner in America were issued a pink slip. What impact would this have on global carbon emissions? Almost zero. This is because China and India, with their two billion people, are massively increasing their carbon emissions every year. For every coal plant we shutdown, China and India build at least five, and their coal is much dirtier than ours. In 2017 under Trump, the United States reduced our carbon emissions by 0.5 percent (even as our economy grew by 3 percent) while China and India belched out of their factories and cars record amounts of black smoke and added to their carbon footprint.

America is already doing more than its part to clean the planet. We all want clean air and a safe environment. But that doesn’t have to come at the cost of destroying jobs and putting our entire economy at risk. Trump is proving is that economic growth, jobs and a cleaner environment are compatible, and he’s producing all three at once.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and served as an economic adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He is the author of “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.”