GOP Senate Leader Says Ending EPA Regs Not A Magic Wand For Coal

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Chris White Tech Reporter
Font Size:

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell believes destroying the Obama administration’s “war on coal” won’t be enough to bring success back to coal country.

“We are going to be presenting to the new president a variety of options that could end this assault,” McConnell said Friday at the University of Louisville. “Whether that immediately brings business back is hard to tell because it’s a private sector activity.”

The Senate majority leader was referencing President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to restore vitality back to states hit hardest by the coal industry’s years-long downturn.

Trump has staked his presidential mettle on restarting an industry pummeled by snarling governmental regulations and changing energy markets.

“If I win we’re going to bring those miners back,” Trump said at a West Virginia rally in May. “These ridiculous rules and regulations that make it impossible for you to compete … we’re going to take that all off the table, folks.”

Nick Carter, the interim president of the Kentucky Coal Association, sparked a slightly different position.

The low price of natural gas, for instance, has contributed to the lack of demand for coal. That rock-bottom price is only going to prompt the energy industry to build more natural gas plants.

“We don’t mind losing to natural gas because it’s the cheapest source,” Carter said. He just wants it to be more economically feasible for companies to build coal-fired power plants on an open market in the event natural gas prices tick upward.

Compounding the problem is that natural gas is widely considered an environmentally cleaner form of fuel than coal.

U.S. carbon emissions have fallen by 12 percent since their high in 2005, thanks in large part to the massive increase in hydraulic fracking, according to reports published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas emits about half the carbon emission of coal power, and is already cheaper than coal in many locations due to fracking. Roughly 70 percent of the falling carbon emissions are due to the switch from coal to natural gas.

Regulations such as those meant to dramatically curb carbon emission, as well as the threat of more all-encompassing regulations like the Clean Power Plan, have all but neutered significant parts of the coal industry.

They have cost Americans countless number of jobs.

The coal industry lost nearly 50,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012 during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Energy Policy. Employment in coal mining fell during Obama’s second term by another 33,300 jobs, nearly 11,000 of which occurred in 2015 alone, federal data show.

The coal industry currently employs 69,460 Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Much of the blame for the job losses is targeted at federal regulations aimed at preventing global warming.

Follow Chris on Facebook and Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact