Coal can’t compete in the free market -- Dick Smith

October 13, 2017 GMT

President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, declared “the war on coal is over.” What he neglected to tell people is that coal lost the war.

The happy talk by President Trump and Pruitt about winning the war on coal is eerily reminiscent of President Lyndon Johnson’s and then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s public statements about victory in Ken Burns’ PBS Vietnam War documentary.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., admits coal jobs “are not coming back” because there’s no longer a foreign market for U.S. coal. Sen. McConnell admits that his best hope is to stop a further decline in U.S. coal consumption.

To me, Sen. McConnell sounds a lot like President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shifting from “victory in Vietnam” to “peace with honor.”

But, why did coal lose the war? If coal’s war was with EPA regulations, why does Sen. McConnell think coal can’t win back those jobs if the regulations disappear?

It’s obvious. Regulation wasn’t the enemy.

Coal lost an economic war with natural gas in the short-term, and with wind and solar in all long-term planning. Even with no federal regulations, coal simply can’t compete in a free-market economy. And, without friendly state regulators still protecting coal, it would fade even faster.

Dick Smith, Madison