MTR economics: Limits won’t be the end of the world
by Ken Ward Jr. - wvgazette.com
As the Obama administration works out the kinks of its proposal to take “unprecedented steps” to reduce the environmental impacts of mounta...
, coal industry supporters are pulling out all of their old arguments: Limits on mining will turn off the lights and send the regional — some even argue national — economy plummeting even further into recession.
But now, a newly released report commissioned by the Sierra Club
has some important things to say about what ending mountaintop removal would do to the nation’s energy supply and the region’s economy.
In short, the report dispels most of the myths: The nation can end mountaintop removal without sacrificing energy and jobs, and — in the long run — doing so might actually improve economies in the Appalachian coalfields.
As the report concludes:
There is no evidence that eliminating surface-mining of Central Appalachian coal will cause the lights to go out or electricity prices to significantly increase in the east. In fact:
– the demand for coal for electricity generation is likely to decrease in the
short and long run, and
– there are economically attractive alternatives to burning Appalachian
mountain top/valley fill mined coal for electricity supply.
Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said:
This new report highlights the benefits for Appalachia that would result from ending mountaintop removal mining and transitioning to clean energy jobs. We can have affordable electricity without mountaintop removal, and we can protect our communities, streams, forests and mountains at the same time.
The new report was prepared for the Sierra Club by the consulting firm Synapse Energy Economics Inc.
It’s dated Aug. 25, 2009, but was only made public today, perhaps to coincide with the start of public hearings on one of the Obama administration proposals to more closely scrutinize mountaintop removal permits. I’ve posted a copy of the report here
These findings are important, but alone they are not yet a slam-dunk for opponents of mountaintop removal … check out this conclusion, for example:
The net effect of restrictions on mountaintop removal on the Central Appalachian economy is uncertain, but a growing body of evidence suggests that the region’s dependence on coal for jobs has not proved a boon. Economic diversification in Central Appalachia would promote a healthier, more stable economy. Research continues to shed more light on the economic and health costs of coal mining.
But the message from this report for political, business and community leaders in the coalfields couldn’t be more clear: Coal demand is going to continue to decline as the world moves to deal with global warming, and folks in the coalfields need to get more serious about a post-coal economy.
Read the rest of Ken's blog "Coal Tattoo" here:http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2009/10/13/mtr-economics-limi...