America shut down enough coal power plants last year to blackout Great Britain, according a report published by pro-industry Institute For Energy Research (IER), citing data from The Sierra Club.
The total amount of electrical power generation going offline in America is equivalent to blacking out the entirety of the United Kingdom.
American coal use has fallen by 29 percent since 2007, according to the IER report, causing dire economic consequences. The world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, was forced to declare bankruptcy last month. Arch Coal filed bankruptcy, as well, in January and coal companies like Alliance Coal announced mass layoffs.
“This should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. President Obama kept his promise to bankrupt coal plants, and his administration has impeded domestic natural gas, oil, and coal production at every turn,” Dan Simmons, vice president for policy of the IER, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Research shows these plant closures will harm all of us by increasing electricity costs and making it more difficult to keep energy intensive businesses in the United States. The Obama administration has never been serious about economic growth, and that won’t change as long as the president continues to shut down affordable, reliable energy production.”
Coal’s fall is due to regulations by Obama’s EPA and cheap natural gas, which “spurred increases in natural gas-fired power generation in several states, generally at the expense of coal-fired generation,” according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The systematic deconstruction of the coal industry has created very real economic hardship for the”coal country” of Appalachia, which has been economically devastated and offers very few job options for the now unemployed workers. Coal mines lost 7,500 jobs last year alone, according to federal data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In just the last three years, mine employment has fallen by 75,000, according to IER. These were high wage jobs too, as a typical miner earns $83,700 a year—a salary that cannot be replicated in other fields without extensive education.
The situation for coal miners would likely get worse if Obama’s Clean Power Plan is fully implemented. The EIA predicts the plan would more than double the number of coal plants shutting down over the next five years. The shutdowns have a cascading effect, causing coal production to collapse by more than 30 percent over the next decade.
Despite the mass shutdown of American coal power, U.S. electricity is still far cheaper than the rest of the world’s. The average European spent 26.9 cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity, while the average American only spent 10.4 cents, according to calculations performed earlier this month by The Daily Caller News Foundation.