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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Obama's War on Coal: "The Wrong War, at the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time, and with the Wrong Enemy"

As reported by The Washington Post (

"A Harvard University geochemist who serves as a scientific adviser to President Obama is urging the administration to wage a 'war on coal.'

'The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants,' Daniel P. Schrag, a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, told the New York Times. 'Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.'"

From the US Energy Information Administration (
What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?

In 2012, the United States generated about 4,054 billion kilowatthours of electricity.  About 68% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuel (coal, natural gas, and petroleum), with 37% attributed from coal.

Energy sources and percent share of  total electricity generation in 2012 were: 

  • Coal 37%
  • Natural Gas 30%
  • Nuclear 19%
  • Hydropower 7%
  • Other Renewable 5%
    • Biomass 1.42%
    • Geothermal 0.41%
    • Solar 0.11%
    • Wind 3.46%
  • Petroleum 1%
  • Other Gases < 1%
Hmm, coal currently provides the US with 37% of its energy.

Now consider Paul Krugman's last New York Times op-ed entitled "Et Tu, Bernanke?" (, in which the Conscience of a Liberal writes:

"The first thing you need to understand is how far we remain from full employment four years after the official end of the 2007-9 recession. It’s true that measured unemployment is down — but that mainly reflects a decline in the number of people actively seeking jobs, rather than an increase in job availability. Look, for example, at the fraction of adults in their prime working years (25 to 54) who have jobs; that ratio fell from 80 to 75 percent in the recession, and has since recovered only to 76 percent."

And as reported by The Wall Street Journal today (

"The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than previously estimated in the first quarter as consumer spending and business investment were revised sharply downward, amid signs the pace of growth is likely to have slowed in recent months.

The nation's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, grew at a 1.8% annual rate from January through March, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was less than earlier readings and below the 2.4% gain estimated by Dow Jones Newswires.

The economy has grown for 15 consecutive quarters, but the pace of those gains—about 2%—is among the weakest for recoveries since World War II. In the fourth quarter of 2012, economic output expanded only 0.4%."

Responding to General Douglas MacArthur's proposal to expand the Korean War into China, General Omar Bradley stated before Congress on May 15, 1951 that MacArthur's idea amounted to folly:

"Frankly, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this strategy would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy."

A war on coal? Isn't this also "the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy"?

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