Would the coal industry flourish under Romney? It’s safe to say it will not improve under four more years of Obama. The coal industry, as it stands now, hamstrung by reckless environmental policies and playing defense, will only suffer further setbacks and frustration. Power producers would continue to struggle with an incoherent energy plan, while demand declines as the economy languishes.
In late May, Romney spoke to an audience of about 1,500 coal miners and their families in Craig, Colo. He explained that he didn’t share President Obama’s anti-coal agenda. “He’s going after energy,” Romney said. “He’s made it harder to get coal out of the ground. He has made it difficult to get natural gas out of the ground and he is making it harder to get oil out of the ground.” Vowing to jump-start the economy he said he would not forget the miners. A few days later he gave a speech in front of Solyndra’s headquarters in California. The Obama administration gave the now bankrupt green energy company more than $500 million in loan guarantees. The political grandstanding was well-orchestrated.
Reviewing his energy policies might provide better insight as to what the coal industry can expect under Romney (See Mitt’s Energy Plan: www.mittromney.com/issues/energy). A PDF pamphlet titled, Believe in America—Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, sheds some light on what his team has in mind. In it, Romney acknowledges coal as an abundant fuel source, throwing out the oft-cited 200 years of reserves. He also points to the potential damages to the economy from Obama’s original cap-and-trade proposal. As governor, Romney initially backed cap-and-trade policy, but changed direction during the GOP primary. He explains how Obama found another path to implement his policies, using new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and declaring carbon dioxide (CO2) a pollutant. He offers a bar chart, titled the Green Jobs Myth, which shows graphically how two jobs were lost for every green job created.
Romney promises to lift the cloud of regulatory uncertainty that businesses face today. He says the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other laws need to be overhauled. Can he do all of that? It might be possible, if the Republicans sweep Congress, but probably not by acting alone as president. The notion that he wants to overhaul the laws and make them more practical speaks volumes as far as a more common sense approach. What readers have to remember, however, is that the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 was a pollutant. If elected, he said he will push legislation to overturn the Supreme Court ruling.
Romney has the right priorities; fixing the economy, getting the U.S. back to work, and restoring fiscal responsibility. Once the U.S. economic engine restarts, increasing power demand will frame looming environmental decisions properly. In the end, a strong economy will benefit the U.S. coal industry the most.