By Tucker Davis
November 8, 2022 - In a speech at an event in Carlsbad, CA on Friday, President Biden said out loud what America’s coal miners have known for the past 13 years – Biden, Obama, and their elitist cronies in Washington are determined to shutter our nation’s coal-fired power plants no matter the cost to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in the industry.
“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America,” Biden said.
Those words were the latest salvo in the left’s War on Coal that began even before Biden’s ideological predecessor, Barack Obama, took office in 2009.
In January 2008, then-candidate Obama said coal-fired power plants would go “bankrupt” and “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” if he were to be elected. He made good on those words.
In 2009, America’s coal industry produced 1.17 billion short tons and employed approximately 86,000 people in direct coal mining roles. Shortly after taking office in 2009, the Obama/Biden Administration began their regulatory assault on coal mining and consumption, instituting a series of actions, rules and regulations designed with the sole intent on making it impossible to mine and use coal.
By the time Obama left office in January 2017, his war on coal had closed the doors of much of the nation’s coal-fired power generation fleet and coal production had declined by 396 million short tons (34 percent), and more than 36,000 direct coal jobs had been lost (42 percent). And that doesn’t include the tens of thousands of support jobs lost that were also dependent on coal mining.
It doesn’t tell the story of those families who lost a lifetime of possessions – who had to pick up and leave their lives, their homes, and a way of life that was the only one most had ever known. It doesn’t tell the story of the communities that were left a shell of what they had been a few short years ago. It doesn’t tell the story of the despair – the pain – that was felt by those people.
Now, Biden appears to be back for round two of the War on Coal. But our industry won’t go down without a fight. Yes, Mr. President, the industry heard you loud and clear and no amount of explaining or walking back of your words is needed – they ring hollow anyway.
Biden’s press secretary issued a release on Saturday in which she claimed Biden “came to the White House to end years of big words and little action to help the coal-producing parts of our country.” Really?
Frankly, coal doesn’t need Biden’s “help” as our coal miners have had about all his “help” that they can take. His press secretary also said Biden had “delivered $23 billion to energy communities across the country.” He needs to realize that is little more than a year’s economic impact our industry has on a single state in which it operates. America’s coal miners simply want to work. They don’t want handouts.
Coal is not the boogeyman of American energy. Coal miners have saved this country time and again. As Biden’s press secretary pointed out, coal literally built this nation. It provided the steel that built America’s skyscrapers. It fueled the industrial revolution that made America the envy of the world. Without it, America would not have been able to produce the steel that made the military equipment that has kept America free.
But more than that, coal has been the backbone of America’s energy economy. Until the regulatory assault started by the Obama Administration, coal provided over half of the nation’s electricity. It provided affordable and dependable electricity to generations of Americans.
Today, Americans have to deal with blackouts, brownouts and near-energy grid collapse every winter and summer. Why?
The answer is clear, the myopic pursuit of a “green” energy grid that is neither attainable, nor reliable and, certainly not affordable. Biden and former President Obama declared a war on coal a long time ago and that war has never stopped. My message on behalf of Kentucky’s coal industry is simple: Spare us the excuses and explanations. They mean nothing.
Tucker Davis is the President of the Kentucky Coal Association and a native of the Appalachian coalfields.