There is a story in the New York Times that just came across the wires titled, “Even In Coal Country, The Fight For An Industry.”
But now, coal is in a corner. Across the United States, the industry is under siege, threatened by new regulations from Washington. So when the operator of the Big Sandy plant announced last year that it would be switching from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas, people here took it as the worst betrayal imaginable.
Channeling the animosity toward Washington and fears about their livelihoods, coal producers, union leaders, landowners and railroads came together to pressure American Electric Power to back down on its plan to close the coal furnaces at Big Sandy. They have leaned on county judges, state legislators and other politicians.
Here in Kentucky, the intervention by State Representative Rocky Adkins and other coal industry advocates has saved coal at Big Sandy, at least temporarily. American Electric Power, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, is proposing a $1 billion retrofit to allow the plant to continue burning coal and has asked Kentucky regulators to approve a 30 percent increase in electricity rates to pay for the work.
So let me see if I got this right. When the solar industry pushes for thing like feed-in tariffs or renewable portfolio standards the coal lobby accuses them of trying to raise everyone’s electricity prices and says that the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. Yet, when the coal industry needs a little help it’s all about saving jobs and preserving a way of life.