Hillary Clinton and coal

Supposing — by some act of political magic — all of the EPA regulations related to coal would suddenly disappear.  Would all coal jobs, especially those in mining and coal-fired power plants, come back? Probably not. There are two major reasons why: first is automation and second — and more importantly — is the relative low price of natural gas. These two factors alone, through the forces of free-market capitalism, have relegated coal to the bottom of the list of options for energy in the 21st Century. Any political candidate who claims that he/she will bring back coal jobs is selling snake oil.

Coal workers must be recognized and honored for the difficult and dangerous work they have performed in the past, but coal now represents only one-third of power generation in the U.S., and that figure is dropping. In the short term this is bad news for communities whose economy is based on coal, but there is reason for optimism about the future.

Hillary Clinton has proposed a $30 billion revitalization program for coal communities, such as those in West Virginia and southeastern Ohio. This program includes economic diversification and job creation, ensuring health and retirement security for coal workers, reforming black-lung benefits,  rebuilding infrastructure, repurposing mining lands, expanding broad-band access (for delivery of educational and training opportunities), building renewable energy resources, supporting research on issues such as carbon sequestration, establishing a Coal Communities Challenge Fund (to provide grants for innovation and small businesses in these communities), education and training, health and wellness. Men and women in the coal business need to retool and acquire new skills for the job market of the 21st Century. It will not be easy, but Hillary Clinton will do her share. Vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

George Banziger