No one wants coal miners in West Virginia, Kentucky and southwestern Pennsylvania to be out of work, but the lumpy black stuff is in trouble. Part of the “coal problem” is the cheapness of natural gas (up some in price recently, due the bitter national cold weather; if you participate in natural gas programs, you gotta pray for cold winters, right?
Even so, aside from the temporary uptick, natural gas is cheap and the low price is in part is due to the crazy U.S. oil boom, where domestic production for both oil and gas is up, up, up).
And, of course, the right blames the demise of coal on the administration. I seem to remember, though, that the conservatives took the president to task in the beginning of his first term because he had too many White House visitors from the coal industry. It is hard to have it both ways: (1) He is a friend of coal and they helped elect him and visit him too much, or (2) Obama hates coal).
Coal got hit by the freight train of the new oil and natural gas boom. If natural gas burns clean and the price is right, no one wants coal. It’s as if the bituminous and anthracite black stuff is tied to the train tracks, like Pauline in the silent films, waiting to be rescued by a hero.