The one promise that President Joe Biden has faithfully kept is his pledge to “close down” fossil fuels. We get two-thirds of our energy in America from fossil fuels, and almost one-third of our power comes from coal. That’s quadruple the amount of energy we get from wind and solar, which are niche forms of energy.
But Biden doesn’t see it that way. He recently reiterated his pledge to end coal production altogether.
“No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it,” Biden said on Nov. 4 while in California. “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”
I hope the people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming are listening because thousands of mostly union jobs are associated with the coal plants he wants to shutter.
Biden says we need to “shut down” these plants and the jobs that come with them because we need to combat climate change. One problem: Most of the rest of the world is using more coal even as we use less. Even the sanctimonious Europeans are turning to coal because their natural gas supplies from Russia are no longer reliable.
Germany is even burning wood now for home heating, which is about the most environmentally damaging way to get energy.
But the biggest polluting villain by far is China. Beijing is now powering its rapid industrial expansion with fossil fuels. The Chinese have more than doubled their coal production and consumption over the last decade, even as we in America have cut our domestic coal by almost half. Beijing recently announced it is building dozens of massive new coal plants.
Does it sound like this nation of more than 1 billion people is concerned about climate change?
White House climate envoy John Kerry has to explain how we are reducing global warming if every time we shut down a coal plant, China builds a new one or two or three.
Coal was the critical fuel source that powered the industrial revolution in America, which made our economy the strongest in the world. Back then, coal was dirty, and the constant gurgling of emissions from massive coal plants turned cities like Pittsburgh into 50 shades of gray smog.
That was then. Now, American coal plants are cleaner all the time. In 2020, the Department of Energy issued a report that found: “Coal-fired electricity generation is cleaner than ever. Research shows that a new coal plant with pollution controls reduces nitrogen oxides by 83%, sulfur dioxide by 98%, and particulate matter by 99.8% compared to plants without controls.”
That’s a giant reduction. It’s one of the major reasons why the air that we breathe today in America has been getting cleaner for 50 years. We’ve reduced levels of lead, carbon monoxide, sulfur and other pollutants by more than 50% — not bad, given that our economy is four times bigger.
The same DOE report found that “over the next 30 years, new coal production of 145-345 million tons could result in 47,500 coal mining jobs. The carbon products could also result in product value of near $139 billion and 480,000 manufacturing jobs tied directly to carbon products.” That’s a lot of jobs, but the operative word here is “could.”
Will we? Not if Biden has his way.
That would be a damn shame. Under the Biden plan, we would move technologically in reverse in our energy sources. America got rich by replacing windmills with coal plants, and now, 150 years later, Biden wants to replace coal with windmills.
That’s a strategy for energy poverty and cold, dark nights. If you don’t believe me, ask the Europeans who are back to using candles to light their homes during rolling power blackouts.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks. His latest book is “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government is Devouring our Economy.”