Real world consequences of Obama’s “war on coal”


Back in June, President Barack Obama’s delivered a big speech to announcing new initiatives and regulations to combat climate change. Among the policies, which be enacted through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was tighter regulations on the coal industry.

President Obama has already taken steps to ensure that new coal plants meet strict environmental regulations, though older plants were initially spared. But the new standards set by the administration will result in the closing down of those older plants, which will hinder the United States’ power grid and significant job losses.

But to put the war on coal into perspective, Ashe Schow points to a recent report from Reuters showing that 207 coal plants will shut down over the next 10 years, a loss of nearly a third of all coal plants in the country:

President Obama’s apparent “war on coal” will result in 207 coal plants shuttering their doors over the next decade or so, according to Reuters.

Whether due to environmental regulations or cheap natural gas (which the Environmental Protection Agency is also eyeing suspiciously via potential fracking regulations), these coal plants will close their doors, resulting in a loss of over 40,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s less than 1 percent of all the electricity used by the country in a year, but because multiple plants are closing in the same location, energy prices for people living within their reach will increase. Not to mention the job losses from closing those plants.

As 207 plants are slated to close, 138 have already shut down since Obama took office in 2009 and began his anti-coal onslaught. If all 207 of those facilities cease operating, it will leave the nation with 439 coal-fired plants, a loss of 32 percent of the nation’s coal plants.

Coal currently accounts for about 40 percent of the nation’s energy supply, so losing this many coal plants will be devastating. Renewable energy (including wind, solar, geothermal and others) account for only 12 percent of current consumption, and that percentage isn’t growing very quickly.

Not only will this move weaken the power grid and result in lost jobs, it’ll also raise Americans’ energy prices. That’s exactly what Obama promised during his first presidential campaign in 2008 when he said that his environmental proposals would “bankrupt” a company that wanted to build a coal plant and would cause electricity rates for consumers to “skyrocket.”

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