Coal Age

MAR 2017

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8 March 2017 news continued d a t e l i n e w a s h i n g t o n By the time you read this, the Sierra Club will have twice been reminded of former President Barack Obama's boast that "elections have con- sequences." The Senate will have confirmed Scott Pruitt's nomination as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator follow- ing the committee's endorsement. To the cli- mate lobby that owned the EPA for the last eight years, Caligula is about to capture the convent. The many more who have been punished by the EPA's regulations welcomed Pruitt as their savior. Also, President Donald Trump signed the resolution of disap- proval Congress passed last month, voiding the so-called Stream Protection Rule. An oxymoron right up there with airline cuisine and military music, the stream rule will soon be extinguished, un- der the arcane Congressional Review Act. The Sierra Club loved this rule; the National Mining Association (NMA) hated it. It was the first rule overturned by the Trump presidency. How did all this happen? The Sierra Club itself provided one answer. It recently announced a new goal to destroy 65,000 jobs. Of course, that's not how the club announced it, but that was what some of us heard when the club boasted of its goal to shut down another 28 gigawatts (GW ) of coal-based power. To the red-carpet supporters, billionaire philanthropists and trust fund intellectuals who cheer the club's Beyond Coal cam- paign, the impact on jobs will be lost in translation. Cost is no con- sideration for this crowd because they never pay it. But the impact of closing so much plant capacity will not be lost on voters, espe- cially not on the hundreds of thousands of men and women whose jobs are in the coal supply chain. Here's what they will hear. The club's 28-GW target roughly equates to 90 million tons of lost coal production, the volume of coal required to supply these plants with power. That lost volume translates into job losses of 10,000 direct coal mine workers (U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data) and 9,000 direct coal plant workers (Department of Energy's "Energy and Employment Report"). Add to this toll the standard 3.6 multiplier for indirect job loss- es derived from MSHA data — conservative as it omits some cat- egories — and the club's goal will kill another 46,000 jobs found in power plants, railroads, barge transport, ports and equipment vendors. This brings the Sierra Club's total tribute to America workers to 65,000 lost jobs. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show fossil energy jobs of the kind lost here paid an annual average of $111,300 in 2015. Many voters across the country often ask one another: Where have all the good jobs gone? Why can't we create the kinds of jobs that once supported a family? Here is one answer. It isn't necessarily Chi- na or mechanization or lack of qualified applicants that is slowly eroding living standards for the once great American middle class. It's the rising influence of well-funded advocacy groups that are indifferent to the jobs they destroy while in pursuit of trivial envi- ronmental improvements. The stream rule that Congress overturned for example would have delivered zero improvements because it merely duplicated oversight responsibilities of other state and federal regulators. The Clean Power Plan, Obama's contribution to the Paris climate accords now hamstrung in litigation, would destroy tens of thousands of jobs in the fossil energy sector just to deliver a global warming reduction so trivial that the EPA didn't bother to measure it. This may explain why the Obama administration's single-mind- ed devotion to the environmental left was costly for the president's supporters in November. Reducing carbon emissions and coal production reduced economic prospects for tens of thousands of men and women. Small wonder they turned on their tormentors and the candidates who had turned against them. To woo them back, the governing class must end its romance with the green lobby. Their evangelical zeal for punitive energy regulations — from stopping pipelines to shuttering power plants — and their indifference to the welfare of working Americans, are incompatible with the economic growth and high-wage jobs vot- ers want. The Sierra Club can't read election results, but here's betting that Congress can. Luke Popovich is a spokesman for the National Mining Associa- tion, the industry's trade group based in Washington, D.C. The Club on the Head of American Workers by luke popovich "Cost is no consideration for this crowd because they never pay it."

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