In January 2008, Barack Obama promised that his energy and regulatory policies would “necessarily bankrupt” coal plants. Consider this the next step towards fulfilling his campaign pledge. Over 100 coal miners in Utah got pink slips late yesterday, and the mine’s operator blamed Obama’s re-election and the bleak future for coal it portends:
The layoffs at the West Ridge Mine are effective immediately, according to UtahAmerican Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corp. They were announced in a short statement made public Thursday, two days after Obama won re-election.
The layoffs are necessary because of the president’s “war on coal,” the statement said. The slogan is one used frequently during the election by Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, who was an ardent supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In its statement, UtahAmerican Energy blames the Obama administration for instituting policies that will close down “204 American coal-fired power plants by 2014” and for drastically reducing the market for coal.
“There is nowhere to sell our coal, and when we can, the market prices are far lower,” the statement said. “Without markets, there can be no coal mines and no coal jobs.”
It’s not just the regulatory policies in play here. The sudden discovery of vast amounts of natural gas and the relative ease in accessing it has made the cleaner fuel more cost-effective. That’s good news for both consumers and environmentalists … except that the latter wants to cut off access to natural gas as well. Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as it is commonly known, which has been in use for decades, has suddenly become the latest cause du jour. Obama’s EPA has tried to block fracking as much as it can, and we can expect the EPA to become bolder in this regard over the next four years.
We may well find ourselves in an energy decline within a short period of time if more coal operators choose to scale down or close altogether, while the Obama administration keeps attacking natural-gas extraction. Be prepared for energy bills to “skyrocket,” as Obama also promised during that same interview.