For years, Washington and the globalist climate zealots have targeted the coal industry through various mechanisms, whether it is imposing new environmental regulations or subsidizing competing and well-connected green companies with tax dollars. Yet, despite these concentrated efforts to dismantle Coal Country, the fossil fuel source is not only surviving but also thriving in the post-pandemic economic marketplace. It might be temporarily enduring the onslaught of attacks, but one Democratic senator is breaking away from the progressive wing of his party and calling for the energy sector “to be saved” permanently.
Manchin: Coal ‘Has to Be Saved’
Speaking in an interview with The Epoch Times, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) proposed the federal government coming to coal’s rescue, arguing how it is a critical power source, including in his home state. The moderate senator, who has been criticized repeatedly for regularly distancing himself from the more radical proposals endorsed and approved by the Democratic Party, noted that West Virginia and the United States could not abandon coal anytime soon.
On the subject of coal’s impact on climate change, the senator rejected this assertion, arguing that America’s coal sector “has no effect whatsoever compared to the impact of China.” And, when it comes to solving global warming, Manchin alluded to free-market solutions, explaining that “you’re gonna have to find the technology through innovation to capture the carbon [released from burning coal] and utilize it.”
He does agree that the United States will eventually transition to other energy sources, such as atomic fusion and hydrogen gas. But doing so in a brief period, Manchin averred, is unattainable. Until then, however, the coal industry “will be saved, has to be saved, because the country can’t survive without it.” But, considering coal’s revival, is the senator correct in his suppositions?
The Birth of Coal Country
From Hillary Clinton’s 2016 promise to put the coal industry “out of business” to President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that discourages conventional energy sources, Coal Country has come under constant threat on multiple fronts. Perhaps the laws of supply and demand – and real-life – could save the combustible black sedimentary rubble from the abyss of obscurity.
The renaissance in the global coal market spotlights the mobility in the international economy. All the experts had written obituaries, anticipating to deliver the energy commodity’s final rites and attend coal’s funeral. But the black rock has been resurrected as the world comes back from the brink of extinction. Suffice it to say, the rumors of coal’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
As Liberty Nation recently reported, coal consumption has ballooned throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. Soaring electricity demand, infrastructure problems, geopolitical woes, and the failure of energy alternatives have increased futures to all-time highs. The surging cost of natural gas (around $4 per million British thermal units) has also been an important factor. Overall, these trends have fueled the industry’s bullish production plans, with miners in Australia, China, India, Russia, and even the United States taking advantage of higher prices.
Many industry observers are skeptical that this is a sustainable boom, and the nudge to renewables would have everyone agree with this assessment. America’s coal consumption plunged to a 60-year low, although many states still depend on the fossil fuel component. In West Virginia, coal provided about five million MWh of electricity, compared to the 106,000 MWh in solar and wind. Still, coal firms are trying to expand capacity by 30% over the next decade, which, according to market analysts, could backfire amid the planet’s push to zero emissions and trillions of dollars worth of investments in substitutes, primarily wind and solar.
Saving Coal One Rock at a Time?
In this day and age, when the United States is trillions in debt, and the world is looking to technologies of tomorrow to fuel the planet, is saving coal a positive investment? Before the once-in-a-century global health crisis, natural gas had displaced yesterday’s commodity through elements of the free-market and free-enterprise systems. Conservatives and libertarians would contend that no sector should be supported with taxpayer dollars. Progressives are adamantly opposed to corporate subsidies to multi-billion-dollar businesses only when it contradicts the leftist orthodoxy. As usual, the moderate Democrat is stuck between a rock and a windmill.