I dispute the assertion of my blogospheric counterweight Mr. Powers that President Obama and the EPA are waging a “war on coal.” However, even if we ascribed some truth to that oversimplifying slogan, remember that Catholics gave us the just war theory. “War on coal” assumes that coal is somehow a fuel source without sin that we should burn freely without consideration of the impacts or other competitive alternatives:
The US shale gas price fell 80% since 2008. Meanwhile, renewable energy has become increasingly competitive. From 2005 to 2013 the amount of US electricity generated by burning coal dropped by 10.5%. This was picked up by gas (8.7%) and renewables (4.1%).
…Andrew Grant, report co-author said the report issued a warning that even without an international agreement on carbon emission, the most carbon intensive sectors of the economy were risky investments.
“The roof has fallen in on US coal, and alarm bells should be ringing for investors in related sectors around the world. These first tremors are amongst the clearest signs yet of a seismic shift in energy markets, as high carbon fuels are set to be increasingly outperformed by lower carbon alternatives,” he said [Karl Mathiesen, “US Coal Sector in ‘Structural Decline,’ Financial Analysts Say,” UK Guardian, 2015.03.24].
There is no war on coal. There are market forces driving better, cleaner energy production, and there regulatory forces trying to help.
Related: China is closing 2,000 smaller coal mines. Beijing is shutting down the last of four major coal-fired power plants. The EPA didn’t make the do that. A simple desire to breath did.
Related Related: Oil has collapsed because the oil industry based its maximize-output strategy on demand projections that turned out to be 10 million barrels a day too high.