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View Diary: More Coal Woes: Always a Fun Diary to Write (42 comments)

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  •  The question is easily answered (0+ / 0-)
    But why is it that those workers who were strongly progressive a generation ago are now in the pockets of the corporations?
    The answer is Fear.  Their way of life is crumbling around them.  Who can blame them?

    But I have no inclination to lie to them any more then I do to slow down crucial progress to our energy solution in a half-measured attempt to mollify them.

    They are very right to be afraid.  They aren't stupid people; they can see whats going on around them.  Industries and towns that were thriving in their parent's generation are now barely above a sustenance level of existence.

    Should we go the GOP/Every Politician's way and lie?  Promise to "Restore these jobs"?  Let's "Bring back the Heartland"?

    No.  They aren't coming back.  I say that not with glee or mean-spirit.  They just aren't.  Those coal plants that are shuttered and disassembled will never operate again.  Coal, without massive subsidies, will crater in this country and struggle to find a logistically feasible market as an export to the other side of the globe.

    And I am speficially talking coal here.  The other stuff you mention like food and livestock and other minerals all have a path forward, usually tripped up and snubbed by political games and heavy-handed regulations but they are easily viable in a forward-looking technologically-sound and sustainable way.  ..and yes, I even include cattle raising and copper mining in that.

    But coal?  No.  Coal as an industry in the United States is a walking corpse and the people whose lives are so inextricably tied to it knows this better then you and I do.  And they don't need me or anyone else pointing out business bankruptcies, investor pull-outs, price drop offs, supply gluts and regulations to them. They see it all around them every day.

    And they are afraid.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 11:03:27 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Glee? (0+ / 0-)

      Your diary is filled with glee.
      And not a word about those impacted.

      As for your last paragraph - -
      Coal still provides 40% of electric generation capacity -
      Down from 50% a decade ago.
      It's not as if wind and solar are expanding rapidly.
      The reason for coal's loss of share was cheap natural gas.
      The glut of gas from fracking made gas cheaper than coal.
      For a while.

      But natural gas prices are rising -
      And newer generation plants are multimodal.
      I wouldn't be surprised to see an increase in coal's share over the next decade -
      Unless further fracking and limited LNG keeps gas prices super low.

      FYI - Most recent EIA data -
      Electric Generation
      Coal - 39.1%
      Gas - 27.4%
      Nuclear - 19.4%
      Hydro - 6.6%
      Wind - 4.1%
      Solar - 0.2%

      The percentages don't seem to indicate coal is a walking corpse.

      •  Odd that the industry agrees wth me then. (0+ / 0-)

        I could not be MORE gleeful about the demise of coal.  But I am not celebrating the impact is has on people in coal-producing areas.

        I had the same sentiments when the US Cigarette market took a major sudden hit... a lot of those farmers that had been working land that produced tobacco for generations got thrown into a very rough transition.  Some came out the other side okay, many didn't.  ...doesn't mean I'm not happy to see tobacco sales in the US are 55% off their peak levels.

        There is plenty of coal infrastructure that will keep burning for while but the trend could not be more clear.  But I think you are being a bit glib in pointing out that coal went from 52% in 2000 to 37% in 2012.  For an industry that operates in such long term projections, that kind of change in that amount of time is a major deal.

        Look at everyone inside the business.  Investors are getting out.  Companies are consolidating.  People are divesting.  Regulations aren't being watered down.  Utilities are phasing away.  Mines are being cutback.  Its rippling out to the point that Caterpillar is closing their Virginian plant that makes coal haulers because those things have such a long operating lifespan they don't see enough demand to justify building more of them.

        There is NOTHING inside the United States is remotely positive for coal.  China and India are their only hope.  Even the EU market is barely above break-even and that assumes you can ship out of the East coast and East coast (Appalachian) coal is in exponentially worse shape then West coast (Wyoming) coal.

        Yes... everyone that understands supply and demand will agree that a rise in LNG (particularly if we start aggressively exporting) would create an opportunity for other fuels, but with Wind and Solar being politically popular, more future proof, less regulated and now become more and more frequently CHEAPER then coal, why would they rush back to coal?

        And if we even manage to put a dent in some of those production subsidies.... then coal becomes a part of US History.

        We got a ways to go.  Im not trying to be pollyannish but the progress is all our way.  Its a long game, but we're winning.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 12:01:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who Is "We"? (0+ / 0-)

          And what constitutes "winning"?

          In Australia, the Labor Party has gone from holding federal as well as all 6 state parliaments to Liberals controlling the federal and 5 out of 6 (maybe the 6th one, too) in 6 years.  Granted, federal and state politics have different components, but carbon legislation was part of the picture. (Plus horrific Labor Party infighting)

          The split between Labor and Greens in Tasmania has been nasty. Both were thumped by the Liberals last week. Not only do environmental issues suffer, but reproductive rights, labor rights, immigration rights and a whole host of other issues when the Liberals hold power across Australia.

          Same goes for the U.S. Democratic turnout is notoriously shallow - great for presidential races, but less so for congressional races in pres years, poor in off-year elections, and horrible in state elections. You have noticed, perhaps, the state legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, etc. etc.

          Polls show 2-to-1 to 3-to-1 support for Keystone.  Also, either an unwillingness or, more importantly, inability to pay more for electricity, heat, and cooling - whenever cost is added to such polling.

          With high unemployment and skyrocketing utility costs, many working poor in Europe are turning to right-wing parties. We'll see how well Marine LePen's National Front does this weekend in France.

          I'll get back in touch.

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