News Business & Policy Tough Times Ahead for the Coal Industry By Karl Burkart Writer Swarthmore College University of Oregon Karl Burkart is a writer, architect, digital strategist, and nonprofit executive focused on issues including climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture. our editorial process Karl Burkart Updated December 30, 2019 Coal is coming under closer federal scrutiny. (Photo: Rasta777/Shutterstock) Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Well Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, did its best to look cool by donning some sunglasses in its hip new advertising campaign, but no one seems to be buying it. After what will probably go down as the worst years for the coal industry — not one, but three devastating coal spills (the Tennessee spill is one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, totaling over 1 billion gallons of toxic sludge) — the coal industry is not looking pretty. And yesterday the EPA, now finally under new management thanks to Obama, has removed its hands from underneath its big, ineffectual carcass and handed down an extremely important ruling blocking the construction of the new Big Stone II coal plant in North Dakota, which was set to be built without the pollution controls required by federal law. This will set an important precedent — the rule of law which serves to protect the well being of the people — will not be ignored, despite the anti-environmental stance taken by EPA head Johnson demonstrated most recently by the December ruling that officials reviewing new coal plant projects are not allowed to consider greenhouse gas emissions in their assessment. I have jokingly been referring to the EPA under the Bush administration as the Environmental Prevention Agency, because somehow in the course of the last few years it has turned from an agency intended to protect the people, to an agency designed to protect massive energy corporations — not quite its original intention — and has failed repeatedly to enforce regulations that would prevent disasters like the Tennessee spill from happening. But it's now clear that the party is over, and that the interest of corporations will no longer have free reign now that they are under the scrutiny of Obama's environmental team. And today Al Gore turned up the heat by waging some full-frontal coal warfare: Gore will soon be testifying before Congress about his 2020 plan — to repower America with 100 percent clean energy in the next 10 years. In the video he states his concern over the powerful influence that the coal lobby has in Washington and urges people to send a petition to your elected official. You can do so by going to the online petition (which will automatically send your petition to your state representative) by visiting the Repower America petition page.