Bloomberg: Coal is Dying of Natural Causes, Not Because of Obama

Michael Bloomberg: “Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan are describing it in apocalyptic terms. But much of what they believe about the plan — that it will destroy the coal industry, kill jobs and raise costs for consumers — is wrong. And it’s important to understand why.”

“The overblown political rhetoric about the plan tends to obscure the market reality that the coal industry has been in steady decline for a decade, partly as a result of the natural gas boom, but mostly because consumers are demanding cleaner air and action on climate change.”

“The primary reason for the public revolt against coal is simple: It causes death, disease and debilitating respiratory problems … At the same time, jobs in the energy industry have multiplied, led by natural gas and renewable sources such as solar and wind. Today, there are nearly two people working in the solar industry for each person employed by the coal industry.”

“What has this meant for consumers’ pocketbooks? Very little. The transition away from coal has been almost undetectable in electricity bills: Residential rates have been essentially flat since 2006.”

“In short, reducing our nation’s coal consumption has meant a healthier country with more jobs — at no extra cost to consumers. Is there anyone who thinks that’s a bad deal?”

3 Comments

  1. I mainly agree with this piece, and question whether Bloomberg wrote it all by himself, but that’s nitpicking.

    Natural gas causes environmental problems as well, as does the fracking process that we’re getting so much of it from. But the notion that there’s a war on coal coming from Obama is, of course, nonsense. But a good way to keep poor Appalachian whites from voting Democrat, by putting the blame for their problems somewhere other than where it belongs.

  2. While I agree with Bloomberg’s comment that the coal industry has been in a decline for a decade, I tend to disagree with his statement regarding the “primary reason for the public revolt against coal” for two reasons. First, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I don’t think there has been a “public revolt against coal.” Second, I think the primary reason for the decline of the coal industry has been fracking, which has made available two alternatives (natural gas and oil) at prices cheaper than coal.

    1. Fracking leveled and made the price of natural gas much more predictable, but the Sierra club, and local organizations across the country have been actively targeting coal plants, preventing utilities from building new ones, fighting them in court, and in many cases resulting in earlier than planned closures.

      Public revolt against coal, may be to strong a term(though the majority of Americans tend to agree with replacing them) but the activists have had a real effect on this issue. I’m also not sure it is the main reason because the economics have moved to the point that natural gas and/or renewables simply make more sense but it is a big reason, and probably the reason why between 2007 and 2010 the efforts of coal companies, and coal friendly utilities to build new coal plants mostly failed even when they still had a thin case for economic viability on paper

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