Chuck McConnell: Purposeful job destruction |

Chuck McConnell: Purposeful job destruction

This past March 13, the front-running Democrat Party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, made the following statement: "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." This statement was the final, outright admission of what she and President Obama have been trying to achieve for years. On April 13, 2016, her promise came true. Peabody Energy, owner of Routt County's Twentymile coal mine, declared bankruptcy.

Sadly, Ms. Clinton's war on coal endangers hundreds of high-paying jobs in Northwest Colorado. It is devastating the economic lives of thousands of miners and their families. Clinton's war on coal is her policy. It is not just a hollow campaign promise or a statement of political ideology.

The number of coal workers in America declined every month last year to about 58,000 — a record low. In the 1980s, employment peaked at 175,000. In Routt and Moffat counties, coal employment has declined by double-digit percentages recently. Coal's decline in West Virginia has produced the highest unemployment rate in America.

It's ironic that while politicians and presidential candidates decry the decline of the American middle class, the campaign against coal is costing tens of thousands of high-paying, middle-class jobs. The average pay and benefits for a coal miner is more than $115,000 per year, according to the Colorado Mining Association. The anti-coal crowd justifies these losses in coal jobs with the promise of a transition into work opportunity in green energy. The problem is that solar and wind energy jobs are not materializing at near the rate of losses of coal jobs.

Another irony is the general misunderstanding about perceived pollution from burning coal for electricity generation. Actual pollutants include sulfur, mercury, fly-ash and nitrogen oxides. Coal-fired power plants, for the last several decades, have been equipped to eliminate nearly all of these contaminants. Projects are underway now in Routt and Moffat Counties, costing more than $360 million, to further reduce nitrogen oxides. Modern technology and billions of dollars have nearly eliminated pollution from coal effluent.

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Carbon dioxide is another issue. Carbon dioxide is the product of burning any fossil fuel, including coal, natural gas and the gasoline from your car's fuel tank. The proportion of CO2 produced from burning coal is higher than from other fuels. That makes coal the first target of the politicians who want to control our nation's energy supply.

The Obama Administration, with the strong backing of presidential candidate Clinton, wants to eliminate man-made CO2 and thereby all fossil fuels. They deem CO2 a hazardous chemical due to its perceived contribution to "global warming." The administration's recently imposed Clean Power Plan regulations demand reductions in CO2 that are now impossible to attain economically with coal as a fuel.

The bottom line is clear: The Obama/Clinton policy through the CPP will eliminate coal as a low-cost electricity source. (A fuel, by the way, of which America has more than a 200 year supply.) Clinton is not concerned about "… putting a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business," no matter the human cost. And no matter the destruction of the livelihoods of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans.

As low-priced electricity generated by coal is destroyed, your electric bill will rise dramatically. Some say your bills will double through the next few years. All this because CO2, the same substance we all exhale every day with every breath, has been falsely designated as an evil pollutant by uncaring politicians.

Chuck McConnell

Steamboat Springs