Barack Obama’s energy plan is likely to bankrupt the coal industry, particularly coal-fired electrical plants – in the Senator’s own words. The plan would throw at least 80,000 people out of work, boost typical American residential electrical bills by hundreds of dollars, or some combination of both.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on January 17, 2008, Senator Obama described how his energy plan to create a cap-and-trade carbon marketplace would make it impossible for coal plant operators to stay in business. In his own words:
Let me sort of describe my overall policy.
What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.
I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.
The only thing I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.
It’s just that it will bankrupt them.
Although cap and trade systems would not have a major impact directly on coal mines, it is obvious that without coal-fired electrical plants, those mines have no customers for their product, and would shut down in short order. (Pennsylvania’s coal mines employ more than 7000 workers directly, and tens of thousands more indirectly. Nationwide, there are more than 80,000 people working directly in coal mines, and hundreds of thousands more whose jobs are indirectly funded by coal dollars.) In addition, Obama’s system makes no distinction between new plants and existing plants; coal-fired plants currently produce 49% of America’s electricity. Presumably those plants would go bankrupt as well, or would have to charge an enormous premium for their electrical generation, adding hundreds of dollars to utility bills nationwide. (Most likely it would be a combination – the coal industry would shrink dramatically but not go completely out of business, and utility bills would skyrocket.)
In his famous Philadelphia speech on race, Senator Obama stated:
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
Or perhaps the corporation you work for will go out of business, driven to extinction by the energy bill that your energy plan will send through the roof, Senator. Everyone cares about the environment – but at a time of economic crisis, to declare your intention to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work is unconscionable. To add hundreds of dollars to the utility bills of every American, as people are losing their homes to foreclosure, is madness.
Senator Obama’s tax cuts will return a few hundred dollars to the pockets of typical American workers – money that will immediately be taken back, and more, by his disastrous energy policy.