2017-10-11 / Opinions

No cause for celebration

Politicians are publicly celebrating news that coal-fired power plants in the U.S. won’t have to be serious about reducing pollution in the future.

The Environmental Protection Agency and White House have said they will toss out the Clean Power Plan -- carbon emissions goals for plants that burn coal to make power.

Carbon emissions are a big reason why our planet is heating up. Making power plants (and cars and machinery) burn cleaner is one way to keep our air and water cleaner. It could also keep our planet from becoming a scorching desert for future generations.

So from an average person’s viewpoint, that’s a strange thing to celebrate.

But if your wealth is tied to coal, then tossing out the Clean Power Plan is very good news indeed. Governor Justice, of course, is thrilled, being a coal owner. So are West Virginia officials in Washington, who have painted themselves as champions of coal miners. They claim this means the coal industry will somehow rise again to its previous glory.

That’s a dangerous myth that was almost laid to rest during the last legislative session as officials struggled to deal with a budget crisis. Over and over again, state lawmakers were told to face the fact that coal will no longer be the Mountain State’s main economy. Many factors, including the cost of mining and more diverse fuel choices, are the reasons why.

Letting power plants off the hook on carbon emissions will not change the long-range future of coal or coal jobs in West Virginia. It will change our air, water, forests and wildlife. Giving up on the goal of cleaner energy is no cause for celebration.

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