Over the last several years, President Obama has been waging a not-so-secret war on coal. Beginning with his 2008 campaign promise to "bankrupt" anyone who tried to open a coal-fired utility, he's steadily maintained his anti-coal agenda through an onslaught of new regulations and strict compliance scrutiny.
Unfortunately, Arkansas--and America--is paying the price for this war on coal. Literally.
Last month, I visited Turk Power Plant in Hempstead County. Turk is newest coal-powered plant in the country, a model of clean, efficient coal-powered energy. Moreover, the plant has over a 100 jobs to South Arkansas. Imagine the job creation and economic growth that would come with building more of these plants in Arkansas and around the country.
But the Obama administration isn't just discouraging the development of new coal-powered plants. Now the Administration has begun an assault on existing power plants. Last year, a record number of coal-fired power plants across the country closed their doors, unable to grapple with the ever growing list of federal regulations. These closures not only threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly supported by the coal industry, but also mean higher electricity bills for families and businesses, which must look for alternative energy sources.
The potential for the coal industry remains great and we must take advantage of it. Arkansas serves as a perfect example. Studies indicate there could be multiple opportunities across the state to continue mining coal, creating jobs, and lowering electricity costs statewide.
It's actually quite simple: natural resources like coal are very valuable, and we should take advantage of them to create good jobs and a higher standard of living for all Arkansans. While we certainly should be responsible stewards of the physical environment, we also need to create an economic environment that promotes economic growth and development. Providing the private sector with long-term regulatory certainty will give them the confidence necessary to invest in long-term projects.
President Obama speaks of his support for an "all-of-the-above" strategy to decrease cost and encourage American energy independence, but clearly that's not the case.