A few weeks after Mr. Trump was elected the New York Times informed us that “Coal Isn’t Coming Back.” The message was that the President’s promise to save the coal mining industry would never happen. The Financial Times was right in sync with the New York Times: “Coal Is Dead; Long Live the Sun.”
[Source: Coal is No. 1, by Stephen Moore]
Here are a few statistics for the New York Times editors (data from the Energy Information Administration):
- the single largest source of electric power for the first half of 2017 was coal.
- coal outpaced natural gas as a source of electricity (albeit by only 1%)
- coal is anticipated to generate 3.453 million kilowatts per day this year
- wind and solar will barely generate one seventh of this amount
- mining (not just for coal) increased 21.6 percent (compared to US industry in general which was up 2%)
The issue of jobs is somewhat different. The left states (and is correct) that these increases do not translate necessarily to lots more jobs. That is because coal mining has become highly efficient and is done with far fewer workers than previously. But let’s look at this issue from the productivity perspective. The Institute for Energy Research has completed a study documenting that it takes wind and solar at least 30 times more man-hours to produce a kilowatt of electricity than is required to produce that same energy from coal or oil. So should we move toward inefficiency to produce jobs? If that’s the plan I can create a few million jobs by banning tractors!
[From the Moore article] But coal jobs are not just tied to the actual mining of coal. Coal is tied to steel jobs, trucking jobs and manufacturing jobs. Using cheap and efficient energy makes every other American industry more productive and thus makes American employers far more competitive in global markets. Productivity creates higher-paying jobs in America; it doesn’t destroy them.
Dear New York Times editors, it appears that the coal industry will be around for a while.