Every lost job is a tragedy. And so there is pain in each of the 1,200 jobs being cut by Alpha Natural Resources, the company that bought the beleaguered Massey Energy.Ask the guys in Virginia where the coal mines are shutting down because of regulations. ask the truck driving company's. These things he promises to do now why were they not done when the dem had the majority. our country is on the wrong path in every aspect in my opinion. that's why I feel he should be fired from his job. you never know from one politician to another if it will get better but I'm willing to take the chance.
The jobs aren't disappearing because of Massey's myriad of safety shortcomings or its labor strife. Alpha Natural Resources will close eight Appalachian mines immediately because coal is increasingly uncompetitive in a power generation world that is turning to cleaner, cheaper natural gas.
In all, Alpha will lose 1,200 jobs, including 400 at mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Critics of the Obama administration will inevitably blame the president and his policies for the layoffs. They will point fingers at the Environmental Protection Agency. They will rail about a global warming "conspiracy" changing the course of American industry.
They will be wrong.
American mines are closing because coal right now is too expensive to use to generate electricity. Natural gas is so abundant, and so cheap, that electricity companies are using it in new ways.
Just a few years ago, coal was the cheapest way to make electricity. Despite years of efforts, coal pollutes horribly. It contributes to algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay, helps make smog and ozone in Hampton Roads, spews mercury and other toxics that contaminate our waterways. It contributes enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, helping warm the planet.
Ten years ago, natural gas - far cleaner than coal - was used to generate power to use only in emergencies. Gas was so fast to come on line but so expensive that it made sense to use it to compensate for times of peak demand.
Now, though, natural gas has fallen to prices unseen in a decade. Prices are so low, in fact, that electricity companies have begun building new natural gas power stations, with some replacing their coal facilities.
The abundance of natural gas is thanks to new drilling techniques that have been more effective in extracting natural gas that had heretofore been unreachable. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing together promise to provide America with vast new reserves of energy from domestic wells. Not only is America producing more gas (and oil), it's also finding more.