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How Obama's Climate Change Fight Is Costing US Coal

12-01-2015
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The global climate change summit is entering its second day in Paris. Global leaders are strategizing on ways to reduce greenhouse gases and avert what they believe is pending environmental havoc.

In the United States, excessive federal regulations are already taking a toll on the economy and jobs in Appalachia.

Terrorism vs. Climate Change

Taking time away from the climate change summit, President Barack Obama placed a single white rose at a memorial honoring the 130 people killed in the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks.

Although the president discussed defeating ISIS with world leaders in Paris, fighting climate change topped the agenda. The president called stopping global warming a powerful way to fight terrorism.

"Nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children," he said. "What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?"

A War on Coal?

But critics say Obama's efforts to save the world from climate change may actually destroy parts of the U.S. economy, particularly the coal producing industry.

Excessive federal regulations are already causing hurt and hardship for many Americans. Tighter rules on greenhouse gas emissions have increased unemployment and poverty in coal-producing states like West Virginia.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, one expert made three points:

  • In the past three years, 27-coal mining companies in central Appalachia have filed for bankruptcy.
  • Since 2009, 332 coal mines have shut down in West Virginia, costing close to 10,000 jobs.
  • West Virginia's unemployment rate now stands at 6.9 percent -- about 2 percent higher than the national average.

Environmental Protection Agency limits on power plant carbon dioxide emissions and other federal regulations have caused electric companies to close coal-fired plants. One third of all plants nationwide are expected to shut down within the next seven years.

Calling Out China

While China has pledged to play a greater role in combating ISIS, many summit attendees want to see that country do more in efforts against climate change.

As heavy smog covered the skyline in Beijing this week, President Obama told summit attendees that China isn't alone as a top world polluter.

"The United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it," the president said.

The president wants the United States and other Western countries to give a billion dollars to developing countries to combat climate change.

But polls show Americans are more concerned about terrorism, jobs, and the U.S. economy. And with an election year fast approaching, those issues – not climate change – will likely top the agenda in Congress.

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