Honesty, specifics on coal needed in election year

An editorial from The Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Coal, especially in such states as West Virginia, has been a major issue in the 2016 presidential election year.

It’s important that the beleaguered industry be discussed seriously. It’s a national topic, as plentiful, affordable energy is critical for the United States’ future, and coal must be in the picture for decades to come.

The government can’t singlehandedly rescue the coal industry, which faces pressure from market forces as well as a push for cleaner fuels, but it can be a partner.

John Deskins, director of an economic-research bureau at West Virginia University, noted in an Associated Press story last week that the government’s ability to boost coal production is limited.

“It is very unlikely we will see a return to levels of coal production like we observed in 2008,” the most recent peak in the state, Deskins said. Easing Environmental Protection Agency restrictions — the industry is challenging the EPA in court — would help over the long run, but not enough to offset the loss of market share to natural gas, he said.

As we move toward the general election in November, we want to see honest discussion…

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