Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coal, Environmental Regulation, and Infrastructure Spending

I'm quite swamped at work today so I can provide only the most meager elucidation of our times at the moment.  However, here's a few links I encourage you to read if you're not swamped at work (or too busy making America great again, of course).

This is an op-ed about coal.  Unlike a lot of op-eds, it is substantive, not emotional.  I'll try to dig up a contrarian, pro-coal industry POV as soon as I get a free minute.  In short, the author argues that the coal industry is going the way of the dodo, Trump or no Trump.  Emphases added mine:

For Mr. Trump to improve coal’s fate would require enormous market intervention like direct mandates to consume coal or significant tax breaks to coal’s benefit. These are the exact types of interventions that conflict with decades of Republican orthodoxy supporting competitive markets. Another approach, which appears to be gaining popularity, is to open up more federal lands and waters to oil, gas and coal production.

Doing so would only exacerbate coal’s challenges, as it would add to the oversupply of energy, lowering the price of coal, which makes it even harder for coal companies to stay profitable. Those same policy actions would also lead to more gas production, depressing natural gas prices further, which would outcompete coal. Instead of being a virtuous cycle for coal, it looks more like a death spiral. And this is all without environmental regulations related to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which aren’t even scheduled to kick in for several years.

Also, concerning a trade war with China:

The saving grace for coal production in the United States may be exports to Europe or China. But Europe’s demand for coal is waning. And Mr. Trump seems to be marching us toward a trade war with China. Doing so means the Chinese could retaliate by not buying our coal. And even if a trade war is avoided, cheap coal is readily available from nearby Australia.

Here's a little breakdown of the state of American infrastructure.  It's just one report and one point of view so, of course, digest it with salt added.  That said, it's a good place to start and not an overwhelming amount of information.  Sick of those high tolls, E-ZPass system commuters?  Raise the gas tax!

Here's the Governator speaking on pollution regulation in what is essentially an ad, but he makes some good points, especially about the alleged burden of regulation on California, the nation's leader in economic growth.

And just for fun (if you enjoy high-level shade-throwing), here's Dean Baker ripping the Washington Post a new you-know-what and telling it like it is regarding the "stagflation" of the 1970s.

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