Are Coal Jobs Worth Saving?
I feel for anyone who experiences a devastating job loss. But, given the fact that so many types of jobs, from blacksmiths to elevator operators, have been rendered obsolete by technological changes, should we really spend so much time and effort trying to save the few coal jobs that still exist? More so than regulations, simple economics, such as cheaper sources of energy are driving the move away from coal and to cleaner sources of energy. Should we really focus on saving coal jobs or retrain coal workers to do other things?
Coal is still the primary source of generating electricity. And will be for decades. Many (most) regulated utilities have long term coal contracts that will not just evaporate. Yes, renewables will grow, but not overnight. The only reliable clean source of energy is nuclear - and not everyone is on board with that.
I wouldn't worry so much about the tens of thousands of coal related jobs. They are not going away suddenly either.
The energy landscape will evolve over time, but certainly not as long as the renewables require significant governmental incentives to be cost effective.
Thanks for your input. From what I've read recently, more electricity is being produced with natural gas than coal as of recently. This is a recent development just this year and a growing trend.
Natural gas is typically used as peak support and is expensive compared to coal. Coal is, far and away, the primary source for electricity generation. Economics is, very often, the main driver in paradigm shifts.
From EIA: Natural gas expected to surpass coal in mix of fuel used for U.S. power generation in 2016. EIA is now forecasting that 2016 will be the first year that natural gas-fired generation exceeds coal generation.
John, you are correct that the industry will eventually diminish. However, those miners and other related workers will not be able to find work that pays comparable salaries. What jobs are you going to retrain them to do? You also have truckers, railroad workers, technicians, construction workers and other small businesses reliant on the industry. Let's have a plan in place for these folks.
Why do to them what was done to the steel workers in the late 70s and 80s? There are only so many windmill technician and solar panel install jobs. West Virginia and Western PA have been hit hard already. Other mining areas will follow suit.
Coal is a dirty business, but I don't want to see the problem compounded by excessive unemployment.
I don't want to see anyone suffer due to losing a job. My grandfather came to the US determined to make it as a blacksmith. The automobile ended those dreams and he found other work. I am just saying that coal is going the way of the horse.
John, you are sizing up the situation reasonably. I had a relative who was a Linotype operator. He went to college, graduated at age 60 with a degree in computers, and continued doing the same kind of work, just computerized.
Thanks MizBejabbers. Better to be forewarned and find something else to do. At this point the coal industry is just a shell of what it once was. Like many professions, it will just become outdated and workers will need to move on to new jobs.
Energy poverty hurts quality of life, and since coal is a fraction of the cost of solar and wind (which are also very unreliable), we have a moral obligation to use coal along with clean air technology so that people have affordable power for air conditoning, refrigeration, heating and so forth.
The coal jobs are only a side benefit.
Natural gas is coal's biggest competitor. Renewables will become much more reliable when home storage units like Tesla's Powerball are available to store renewable energy for use when needed. Not far off.
Tesla's power wall is not the answer. It can only store a short amount of power backup.
I don't understand that to be the case with Tesla's Powerwall / ball. I believe it is designed to store enough electricity to provide backup for many days. That would change renewables a lot. Power on demand, when needed.
Coal as other energy resources should compete in a fair market, without government subsidies, or intervention or tax credits...
If the price is competitive, it will survive on its own merit. If it stops being competitive, it will be phased out. The EPA and the Energy department should not be picking winners and losers.
In China, coal is still a very large role of energy consumption because it is readily available and cheap. It is also a very efficient storage of energy and can be transported safely.
I agree. I have researched the coal issue and it appears the biggest problem coal has is fracking has caused nat gas to become so cheap and plentiful that it makes economic sense to switch power generation to nat gas.
Except the EPA helped with the demise of coal -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business … story.html
The government also helped the demise of the horse and buggy and railroads, due to massive investment in roads and a modern highway system. The primary reason for coal's demise is that nat gas is cheaper. Govt influence on the margins.
Except in this case the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA for over reach -
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/us/po … .html?_r=0
Won't matter in the long run. Economics rule the roost. Coal is just losing it, even in places like China, coal is losing its demand to a wide range of alternatives. Coal is from another era. The future is elsewhere.
Yes, but I rather have it happen naturally than forced like what happened with Peabody Energy.
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