The Obama administration’s record in affairs of war is mixed, but one battle has been won – the War on Coal. International Banker magazine quotes Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray as estimating it would take the industry about $45 million to get out of hock. He says only three leading U.S. coal producers even show a positive cash flow, with the worldwide market declining daily.
Part of the decline can be attributed to the economic slowdown in China and the availability of low-cost shale oil. The good mountain folk of Appalachia know this in their hearts, but they also carry a grudge against the federal government, so much so that Kentucky now has a Republican governor as well as two GOP senators.
From The Daily Independent of Ashland: “Coal production in Kentucky dipped last year to its lowest point since the Great Depression, according to the state Energy and Environmental Cabinet. The state’s coal industry lost 27.7% of its workforce in 2015. Less than 6,000 eastern Kentuckians are now employed by the coal industry, down from 14,381 in 2008, per the cabinet.”
This is reminiscent of the way central North Carolina was hollowed out when textile companies fled overseas. That state seized tech, biotech in particular, as its lifeline, and now eastern Kentucky wants in. Optimism was expressed at the recent Shaping Our Appalachian Region summit, which drew 1,000 attendees. More from The Daily Independent: “SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett said the group is determined to connect the region more closely with the global economy. ‘But we also want communities, county judges and mayors to be better connected to one another. We want K through 12 (primary education) connected to workforce development and secondary education,’ said Arnett.
Translation: It all starts with government. These judges and mayors have important stuff to talk about. Be patient and your appointed and elected betters will lead you hillbillies out of poverty.
Sorry, that is a load of crap. The rest of the story talks about telework and how laid-off miners might be taught to write computer code. My heart wants to buy in, but my brain says good luck with that. Regardless of how many summits are put on to pump sunshine up everybody’s ass, Appalachia’s poverty seems destined to grow bleaker — to the delight of the climate change crowd, which bleats “coal … baaaad,” unwilling to acknowledge technology that allows for cleaner burning, forever ungracious in victory.