David Roberts has a nice quick post today about the coal industry's frenzied efforts to prevent its inevitable decline. An onslaught of various impediments have left the industry in truly bad shape: the growing glut of cheap natural gas, the EPA regulations that clamp down on dirty power, the fact that everybody hates it. Coal now accounts for 42% of electricity production nationwide now, down from over half not too long ago.
And now, belatedly alerted by one of the canaries in the industry's proverbial, eponymous mines, the coal lobby is launching a multimillion dollar campaign to, as Roberts puts it, try to "save its doomed-ass self":
Obama may not say any of this out loud, but the coal industry is all too aware of it. That’s why it’s busy mounting a frantic lobbying effort to halt its slide into obsolescence.Which reeks of desperation: Coal is American like NASCAR and beer (pssst: but not Obama)! Now, can we get a culture war blaming the president for the declining demand for our antiquated product going up in here?
“'We’re fighting for coal,' said Lisa Camooso Miller, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that has announced a $40 million campaign in defense of coal ... Last month [ACCCE] announced it would sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team. An 18-wheel, mobile classroom will also be featured at NASCAR events to showcase the benefits of the fossil fuel, said Miller, the group’s spokeswoman, in an interview."
Fox News and co. may pick this up and run with it, since they consistently need to locate new and varied reasons why Obama sucks, but I wouldn't expect this to reverberate much. Nobody is really all that amped up about coal except industry folks, and no one will care too much about the issue besides the vehement anti-Obama crew. The vast majority of Americans don't have any actual emotional attachment to coal; plus it's dirty, polluting, and causes asthma and lung disease. Most recognize we've got better, cleaner options.
So, the coal lobby can go ahead and dump tens of millions of dollars into ad campaigns, hiring celebrity spokespersons, whatever. That's its prerogative. But maybe that cash would be better serve elsewhere—I dunno, like investing in renewables?