America could save $78 billion by shutting down coal power plants


Why not? NASA built/builds spacecraft components all over the country, even though it’s inefficient and objectively dangerous (Why do you think the Shuttle boosters even had rubber O rings?). Take some of that 78billion, and set up a factory in WVa, and another in PA. And a retraining school, with free tuition.

Job done.

Next “problem”?


i understand the why of your comment but it really is sad for them, sad that blue-collar jobs which pay a living wage were tied to coal, sad that blue-collar jobs which pay a living wage have disappeared, and sad that the ignoramus who won the electoral college vote in 2016 and who used their pain to push his campaign forward has done nothing to help them, can probably do nothing to help them, and probably wouldn’t do anything to help them even if he could. it’s nondenumerably sad.


The problem is that the government would be providing free college education and family-wage jobs, in government-owned factories. The wise and all-knowing invisible hand of the free market just doesn’t do that.

Evil socialists do that.


Agreed, lots of reasons coal is a bad idea. Which is why it’s so annoying when an article uses a stupid reason—it unnecessarily creates an opportunity to deny the strawman argument instead of facing the real ones.


Economics are a secondary concern at this point. Decarbonise or die; it is not a negotiable factor.


I’ve lost all empathy for those MAGA idiots too stupid to get out of the mines and into another line of work. People have tried to retrain them and they have resisted. I’d be happy to personally teach even just one of them to do something else. Weld? Paint? Carpentry? Massage Therapy?

Shut them down. Move on.


This has been done already, somewhat. Back in the government public works pork days, Robert Byrd dumped hundreds of millions on West Virginia, building highways, dams, even a goddam radio telescope. But its reliance on extraction for its entire economy remained atop it all.

Now, of course, we hide all of the pork money in the defense budget.


I agree with most of your observant comments but had to call out one important point about the above. Natural gas is largely methane. Methane is about 80 times as bad a greenhouse gas as CO2. The extraction process along with ageing and poorly maintained piping infrastructure particularly in cities, discharges TRILLIONS of cubic feet per year. So yeah, clean burning, but leakage more than offsets that quality.


Just think about what that $78 billion being poured into the coal industry could be used on instead.

Stock buy-backs?


I moved across the country just to get a job. I assume others can do so too.


Money aside, I’m one of the front-line people who is already starting to feel the deregulation rollbacks in a physical way. My asthma is at least twice as bad now as it was 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed in my late 20s. Heart is fine, lungs are fantastic, but asthma triggers like air pollution are going to be the death of me on a day I’m short on meds which I shouldn’t have to worry about because asthma is not a result of “socialist moral failure”.
This shit needs to go away, my opinion being I don’t want to sacrifice my life to keep some capitalist fat and happy.


I bet if you were to take 10% of that 78 billion and use it to hire the out of work coalmen to build energy efficient housing in their home counties, you’d see a generation of people come out for the better.


It’s an old sock-puppet account. :roll_eyes:


This is great and I sure wish (okay, kind of dreading because this would be a new level of .xls majick) I could read the full report…I think it was working mostly great on mobile, despite a ‘reveal more on this page’ thing not having shown much amazing… at but it seems like a parked thing?!

Also the comments for “all mens’ fragrances smell the same” comes up blank
So even European men smell like American forests (full of pinols, that’s a little less toxic?) In the future, we will identify suspects by which flavor of Skittles or KitKats gone off they smell like.
I’m wearing my coalface right now.


Stop it with all that sense! :wink:


Any “78 billion” would be a diffuse benefit, not a lump of cash we can carve 10% from. The notion that we could get the Fed govt to allocate funds for retraining, job corps, relocation etc has been tried before with limited to no success. I’m not against any of the ideas floated here. I just have zero expectation that they’d ever be implemented to a meaningful degree.

Have you visited coal country? I have. Energy efficient housing isn’t high on the list of needs. And there will never be NASA plants or auto factories enough to save those communities. Uprooting of entire families to look for work across the country? Doing what?

Damned easy to pop out theories and restructure things in our heads. The politics of this is the politics of everything in the US. Nothing like what’s been suggested here will ever happen.


It could be built out of solar panels! :smiley:


The coal workers could simply be paid for Make-work; moving rocks or something. Their health would improve, the planet’s health would improve, and it wouldn’t need to cost any more than the current system does.


This article seems pretty disingenuous.

I had to stop trusting them after they compared the costs of renewables and coal plants on the basis of operating costs.

Gee whiz, sir, is the main cost of solar really down to the mining and shipping of radiation from the sun?


Yes, coal is becoming less economical. But some caveats to the headline for the USA (based on reading the report and a few other sources):
The $78 billion is the cost savings is basically to the electrical industry, not the government. The savings would be passed on to consumers or shareholders, not end up in government coffers.
It appears that if you want to include subsidies, coal gets far less per MW than renewable. Switching from coal to renewable decreases the pool of money the government has.
The $78 billion is based on keeping the plants going for 17 more years and is a comparison of trends and spread out over time. Plants are already being closed, so this isn’t an additional $78 billion. This is a calculation of what the industry is predicted to save if they follow trends of closing unprofitable plants.

In short, don’t get too excited about some windfall if we act quickly.

Also, keep in mind that there are many reasons to keep an unprofitable plant running. Closing a plant is not a zero cost. Changing to another source requires immediate capital investment. Simple cash flow can limit how fast you change over. There’s also risk mitigation. Having some coal or nuclear generation capacity hedges against a spike in NG prices (if, say, every power plant were to suddenly switch).

Also, the success of renewable energy works a bit against it. Prices are dropping nicely. So should you convert over now, or take a loss for a couple years in expectation of more than saving that much from the drop in solar and wind capital costs?

Lastly, don’t confuse the electrical industry with the coal industry. Power companies don’t give a rats ass about coal. Or solar for that matter. They care about money. You can be pretty sure your power company is doing the same calculations as this report. The $78 billion isn’t even really a savings. It’s probably closer to a projection of what it would cost to subsidize coal to keep at the current level.