November 2, 2015
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Future President:
There is a massive problem in America today that the entire nation, and especially the one hundred and thirty four thousand people directly employed by the U.S. coal industry, need to worry about. There is a so called “War on Coal” going on in the U.S. that calls for the immediate exclusion of coal for the means of U.S. energy consumption. This idea is flawed for three main reasons: first, it would cost way too much money to convert from coal, while not improving the economy enough to rebound from the transition; second, battery and renewable energy technology is not advanced enough to provide a direct transition from coal to other sources of energy; finally, thousands upon thousands of people will lose their job without a guarantee of getting a new job.
First, the problem of cost needs to be addressed. According to the National Mining Association, one hundred and thirty four thousand people are directly employed by the coal industry, and for each job in the coal industry about three and a half jobs are created in a supporting industry . This equates to about a half of a million jobs due to coal. These jobs are most abundant in states like Wyoming, Kentucky, and Montana that need these jobs to help build up their population and make room for a strong technology sector in more cities. This technology sector will push for a refinement in the coal burning process, resulting in a cleaner and more efficient energy source. Most importantly, coal burning provides the energy America needs until scientists have developed high quality clean energy resources and advanced batteries to eventually phase coal out. This helps to provide a transition period from coal to other career paths for coal mining families. However, if the government regulation pushes to far too fast, the coal industry could falter, further hurting the U.S. economy, many American families, and put the U.S. into a precarious position regarding energy.
Next, take a look at the current state of battery and clean energy technologies. Any scientist, engineer, or politician who knows anything about the current energy problems will admit that the technology does not currently exist to transition from coal as fast as some new policies have tried to do. If the government truly wants to help the focus should not be on pushing coal into obscurity, but instead providing incentives to switch to a cleaner energy resource that is appetizing to all Americans in all financial situations. If original ideas are too hard to think of take a look at Germany’s solar energy incentive. This worked really well for them, and a similar idea could be implemented in America to help build up this new industry while not directly pushing coal workers and supporting industries out of business. If policies continue to push for the extinction of coal as the rate that they are, without providing a well thought out and well structured plan, then all of America will be affected by the ensuing recession and power shortages nationwide.
Finally, besides the direct effect to the entire U.S. economy, there will be many more smaller shockwaves in families across the U.S. Take a tour around Colstrip, Montana or Craig, Colorado and look for yard signs. They are not hard to find because nearly every yard will have a “Save the Coal” sign. This is because nearly everyone in these towns depends on coal in some way or another. It could be that a single mom of three keeps a secretary job at the local coal plant or maybe a married father of two is a coal miner and the main breadwinner of the family. Regardless of who the coal worker is in a family, nearly every person in towns just like these all over the U.S. will be negatively affected by the the riddance of coal. These families might have to move, compete for lower paying and possibly non-union jobs, all the while dragging their kids along with them.
Future President, please be as intelligent as possible when making a decision regarding coal in future policy making. Think of the entire U.S economy, energy sector, and every individual family that will be thrust into unemployment by every destructive policy made. Instead of pushing at this blinding speed take some time and push for clean energy incentives, technological innovations, and cleaner, more efficient coal while it remains to be our main energy source. This request is not to further political agenda, but to save America from a crisis.
"Fast Facts About Coal." Quick Facts about Coal and Its Benefits. National Mining Association, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.