Today’s Mike Myer column, "Picking Winners and Losers," is mostly an attack upon the Obama administration’s supposed “war on coal.” Of course, Myer totally ignores the obvious – that market forces, especially cheap natural gas, is the primary cause for coal’s decline. As Joshua Rhodes wrote in Forbes earlier this week:
Quite simply, coal is not coming back, slogans and political rhetoric be damned. The market has spoken loud and clear that natural gas and renewables are the future. For any other technology to compete, it must beat out these sources of energy.
Myer then carries out an evidence-free attack upon the energy policies of former president Obama, his favorite scapegoat. (Myer apparently believes that the use of sources is unnecessary for those who believe coal still has a future -- one only needs to reference "Obama" instead.) And now Myer wants President Trump to pick a winner in energy regardless of the financial, human, or environmental cost -- and obviously, it's coal.
As with past columns on this subject, it consists of assertions. For example, on the price of electricity:
Meanwhile, electricity prices have gone up. Here in West Virginia, they have skyrocketed by 62 percent since 2008, when Obama took office.
Myer provides no clue as to where this number came from and I could not find that statistic anywhere. In my search, I did found this, by James Taylor in Forbes earlier this year:
Ten years after coal began losing substantial electricity market share – primarily to natural gas – electricity prices have not risen at all, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports. In inflation-adjusted dollars, electricity prices are lower now than they were a decade ago. Inflation averaged 1.6% per year during the past decade, yet electricity prices rose at an average pace of less than 1%. Just as importantly, energy costs now comprise a smaller portion of consumer budgets than has ever been recorded.
(Unlike Myer, Taylor provides links for every statement that he makes.)
And of course, Myer says nothing about the costs to our health and our environment that coal has and will cost us.
I’ll finish with Basav Sen writing in Fortune last week:
The coal-fired power plants the government wants to subsidize are major sources of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. They also emit other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which have harmful health effects such as asthma. Mining coal and the disposal of coal ash have their share of harmful impacts too. . . .
With these bailouts, the Trump administration is willing to place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk in our country and worldwide, and to trigger planetary changes that may well destroy human civilization as we know it. Worse, it’s all being done in the name of “national security”—and all to assist politically favored businesses and wealthy individuals.
It’s worse than crony capitalism. It’s self-annihilation.
Note – There are many sources out there that are making these same points. I purposely chose Forbes and Fortune because they are conservative business magazines and certainly not the liberals or “radical environmentalists” that Myer likes to portray as being coal's primary opponents.