Is it the Free Market that is Waging a War on Coal?
It has commonly been said that there is a War on Coal. Republicans choose to blame this on Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency, excessive regulations of mine safety, and environmentalists, among others. For those who for generations have made their living mining coal the loss of their jobs is not only a loss of income, it is a loss of years of rich tradition, a way of life, a long history of tradition, the loss of virtually everything. Miners by the thousands have risked their lives to build this nation's industries both within in the mines and upon the earth struggling with Black Lung Disease. Their sacrifices, and those of their families, cannot be diminished.
What however, might be behind this "War on Coal", perhaps it is the Free Market? The Free Market is not a corporation, not even a person, but an economic force that secretively but un-mistakenly controls most aspects of everyone's life. It exists for one thing and one thing only, and that is Profit. What makes money drives it, and nothing, not persons or even communities, will stand in the way to achieve its goals.
Today, thirty to forty percent of our domestic and commercial power comes from coal. That percentage is diminishing rapidly as are the numbers in the thousands of laborers who once made their living through the actual mining, processing, or transportation of coal. Alternative energy sources wind, solar and other have taken their toll, but coal technology strip mining, mountain top mining, have also greatly diminished the size of the workforce, as had natural gas.
The Free Market has jumped at the opportunity to convert fuel sources not merely to comply to governmental regulations, but also for increased profit margins. The cheaper the cost of natural gas, the greater the profits. Worldwide economic factors, the sudden utilization of shale oil, petroleum discoveries, have all had their impact on this War on Coal. China and India, while misrepresenting their production usage, are still in need of coal, so will the United States for the foreseeable future. Clean coal, has been promised, but has not been forthcoming.
Is there really a War on Coal, or have all the factors mentioned above also played their part in the reduction of our reliance on coal?. Coal has become as much a political as well as an economic factor, especially in those states where its production is primary. But will the change in political parties, or production regulations, processing methods, world economics, or even in the outcome of Free Market forces, ever restore coal to the place it once held in national and international markets? The answer very regrettably for those who have depended on it for survival is probably NO, and those accused of waging this war are highly unlikely to offer viable alternatives to coal families, their incomes, their health, or their future. They will only be treated as this war's co-lateral victims . jwb