Make no mistake about it, billionaire Michael Bloomberg is a technology whiz. But his energy ideas are bankrupt. His $50 million gift to support the Sierra Club's anti-coal agenda and to stop coal-fired power plants will undoubtedly help move American jobs to China.
As the Mayor of America's largest city, Bloomberg should understand the overwhelming demand for affordable energy. While everyone supports alternative energy initiatives and green technology research, current energy demand cannot be met with the combination of sources we now have in place -- let alone for the hyper growth predicted worldwide. Conserving energy and increasing our reliance on hydro, wind, and other forms of green energy is beneficial, but the reality is billions of people around the world have no or partial access to electricity now. Letting uber-environmentalists and billionaire elites further limit the supply of energy will only drive up costs for everyone. And limiting or stopping coal production in the United States will move jobs to China and India and give them a significant economic advantage to deliver a cheap energy source to consumers worldwide without American competition.
But perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Sierra Club's assault on American coal producers is that it's based on political calculations not current science. Environmentalist Jane Hamsher, the founder of the highly popular green website FireDogLake said it best, "The Sierra Club is a marquee name that has indeed gone for the green: cash. Environmental activists should carefully examine the way in which the organization is operating, and whether its agenda is worthy of continued support." As Hamsher and others have suggested, the Sierra Club's political maneuvers seem to be based on whether or not contributions are included. For example, their acceptance of $1.1 million from Clorox while endorsing certain chemical industry practices wasn't based on science or grassroots activism but money. Bloomberg's multi-million dollar gift seems perfectly timed for his possible presidential run. The coal industry, on the other hand, must make their case to the American people without special interest buyouts.
American coal producers are confident that an honest assessment of the facts will show that the old environmental argument that coal is a dirty source of energy no longer applies. Total Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions have been reduced 49% since 1970 and total Sulfur Dioxide emissions have been reduced 63% since 1970 despite coal use almost tripling. Many coal plants have replaced older production lines with critical new technology that make production faster, cheaper and the coal produced cleaner. For example, new scrubbing technology removes 90% to 98% of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and next generation clean coal plants can drastically reduce carbon dioxide. Replacing older coal-fired power plants throughout the U.S. with the latest technology would give the added benefit of creating a real economic revolution through 150,000 thousand new construction jobs and an expanded permanent workforce. It could also achieve near zero emissions with the incremental electricity generated resulting from more efficient plants that would replace older technology.
So why wouldn't Bloomberg and the Sierra Club use their $50 million and considerable resources to support coal production plant changes that also create more jobs? The answer, of course, is more politics. The coal industry is spending too much time defending the assault on its very existence rather than on implementing the very technologies that the opposition says it supports.
The assault on coal also ignores one of America's best natural resources. Its production provides high paying jobs and fuels economic growth by providing 150,000 direct jobs and 400,000 indirect jobs in the U.S. alone. The average wage for an American coal miner is $73,476 -- 62% higher than the average wage of all U.S. workers. Despite unemployment rising to 9.1% and budget deficits at their highest level ever, the Obama administration continues to limit oil production, question the safety of natural gas fracking and institute new rollbacks on nuclear energy. We can't afford to also decrease the cheapest energy source America has -- coal. The simple fact is that in the states where there has been a government assault on coal production, consumers pay higher electricity rates.
We must do better. Rather than work with the business community to make effective change, the Sierra Club leadership has decided to veer left and right looking for more corporate and political donors and access. And Michael Bloomberg, a successful businessman, should understand that assaulting a growing and popular industry will wreck further havoc on our struggling economy. The growing international demand for coal demands that America's business and political leaders come together to work to grow the coal industry instead of shrink or eliminate it. The facts show that technology is available today to significantly reduce harmful emissions from utilizing coal. Environmentalists should be celebrating the progress the industry has made, not holding it hostage for political payoffs.