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Editorial: Better late than never

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register editorial

It is unfortunate for the nation as a whole, not just for energy-producing states, that former President Barack Obama’s war on coal and affordable electricity is being ended after years in which it was pursued with attack-dog tenacity and yes, viciousness. Better late than never, however.

“The war on coal is over,” announced Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday. He explained he plans to sign an order overriding the Clean Power Plan, which the Obama administration had viewed as the killing blow in its offensive against coal mining and use of the fuel at power plants.

Throughout his eight years in the Oval Office, Obama and the EPA used dozens of tactics in their overall strategy. They ranged from irrational limits on mining itself to new restrictions on power plant emissions. Meanwhile, they pumped billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to so-called “alternatives” including solar and wind power.

Millions of Americans, many of whom do not live in coal states, are paying higher electric bills because of Obama’s vendetta. Entire counties in coal states such as West Virginia and Ohio have had their economies devastated.

Many utilities began shutting down coal-fired generating stations in anticipation of new EPA rules. As some in the coal industry have pointed out, mines that once supplied those power plants will never reopen.

In addition, families and businesses that once benefited from low-cost electricity generated at those stations are stuck with higher-priced power generated from other fuels.

Still, Pruitt’s order, backed by several other pro-coal actions by President Donald Trump, is important. It may save a few coal-fired power plants and a few miners’ jobs.

It also allows the nation to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy policy instead of wiping one of our most abundant resources out of the strategy.

Our nation has made enormous strides in cleaning up the air, water and soil during the past couple of decades. There may be more we have to do.

But it was clear early in Obama’s presidency that the rationale behind his war on coal was personal preference and special interest politics, not scientific necessity. Obama had decided to wipe out what he felt was a “dirty” industry, and he was determined to make that happen.

He very nearly did, in terms of using coal to supply electricity. It is never too late to correct a mistake, and that is precisely what Pruitt is doing.

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