ACC Responds to Washington Post Article "Coal in the Trump Age"
Washington, D.C. – ACC CEO Betsy Monseu responded to a March 19 article in the Washington Post entitled "Coal in the Trump Age." The response was printed March 24.
Making Coal Competitive Again
By Betsy Monseu, CEO
American Coal Council
The Washington Post’s March 19, 2017 article "Coal in the Trump age: Industry has a pulse, but prospects for the return of jobs are weak" rushes to accentuate the negatives for an industry that is recovering from a multi-year trough. The coal sector has been devastated by lower demand and job loss in recent years due to the mounting impact of regulations pointed squarely at our industry. These regulations have significantly increased the cost of coal for electricity generation and industrial use, made it less competitive against other fuels, and resulted in the closure of a large number of coal power plants.
While the regulations were piling on for coal, energy markets went through periods of extreme weakness due to a tepid economy and slow growth in the post-recession years. Oversupplied markets increased competition between coal and natural gas for electricity sector business. Job losses, bankruptcies, and restructurings have occurred in in oil and natural gas, just as they have in coal.
Each of these energy commodities has been through business cycles before. The key difference with coal was the damage to the outlook for our industry caused by the real and perceived impacts of the extreme federal regulatory onslaught. President Trump has quickly set about the business of regulatory relief and reform, as he said he would. He was recently helped by Congress in eradicating one of the most punitive regulations for coal, the Stream Rule. This and other anticipated actions to reduce the Washington bureaucracy and the number of sweeping, excessive regulations will not instantly translate to more coal jobs, but they do begin to give back the opportunity for coal to compete and grow again. And that’s a great place to start after the years of a playing field purposely tilted away from coal.