MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — Professor James Van Nostrand, director of WVU Law's Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, has issued the following statement about the Trump administration's repeal of the EPA's Clean Power Plan:
The rollback of the Clean Power Plan will have little, if any, effect in bringing coal jobs back. The adoption of the Clean Power Plan had virtually no effect on the coal industry — it was years away before the regulations would have been implemented, in any event — and thus revoking the rule will have no positive impact on coal jobs.
While it is predictable that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would make the announcement in the heart of coal country — eastern Kentucky — and to continue to use the tired rhetoric of the “war on coal” being over, it is cruel to continue to raise the hopes of coal miners that their jobs will be coming back. Coal lost the “war” a long time ago, and it wasn’t waged by EPA regulations; the foe was, and continues to be, cheaper and cleaner natural gas and the steep declines in the cost of renewable sources, such as wind and solar.
In short, market forces are killing coal, and nothing the EPA does can overcome those forces. Scott Pruitt knows better — it is demagoguery at its worst (or best, depending upon your point of view) — but it is playing on the hopes and fortunes of a lot of people in coal-dependent states like West Virginia who are really hurting from the fundamental transition currently underway in the energy industry, and who deserve better from their political leaders.