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cutting back on its alternative energy subsidies in early 2009, the renewable bubble burst. Reports indicate that without subsidies propping the business up, BP closed two large solar plants and “between 25,000 to 40,000 people” were fired from the Spanish renewable energy industry.18 The report author went on to describe that the “actual loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices.”19 Higher energy costs do compound the impact of lost jobs and are virtually guaranteed, as 2008 Energy Information Administration numbers show that, “on a dollar per MWh basis, the U.S. government subsidizes wind at $23.34 – compared to … natural gas at 25¢; coal at 44¢; hydro at 67¢; and nuclear at $1.59.”20 In his presentation at the 2010 Spring Coal Forum, Kevin Book, from Clearview Energy Partners discussed how maintaining current utility jobs could help utilities avoid the unintended consequences and cumulative impacts associated with switching from coal to renewables. He argued that jobs created by coal plant retrofits and construction of more efficient plants would result in long-term, employment and substantial environmental

gains. Book argued that retrofits will provide some of “the greenest jobs I know.” Conclusion While some environmental benefits are associated with renewable energy, the reality is that all energy sources have both costs and benefits. In any policy decision to favor renewables over coal, the benefits of renewables must be weighed against the numerous negative and perverse outcomes that will arise from the push to abandon coal. No one doubts the good intention of environmental groups and regulators. However, the heavy load of regulation, litigation, and special interest pressure is impacting industry’s ability to permit

mines and build or update utility generation capacity. With every permit denial and plant closure the cumulative impacts of job losses, increased energy prices, and system instability mount. A balanced portfolio of generation assets is needed to maintain our economy, our electrical system’s stability, and the free flow of affordable and abundant electricity. There are environmentally, economically, and socially sound means of providing that electricity; coal is very simply the most obvious of those means.  u Jason Hayes is communications director for the American Coal Council (

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen. – Fredric Bastiat 1 Baratti, G. (2009, March 27). Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen in Spanish Study. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from ws?pid=newsarchive&sid=a2PHwqAs7BS0. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 12 21 Ibid. 1 18


Photo courtesy of O2N2 Site Gas Systems

american coal council


Profile for American Coal Council

American Coal Issue 1 2010  

American Coal Issue 1 2010