Let political leaders follow coal industry over a cliff in 2020

Maybe they’ll listen to him or maybe not.
They don’t listen to us. They belittle environmentalists. They scoff at facts. They don’t even pay attention to markets.
But last week, the CEO of Longview Power, Jeff Keffler, made it clear: “The writing is on the wall” for coal-fired power plants in West Virginia.
He noted that the average age of most of those plants in West Virginia is about 45 years and seven of the top generating eight locations could be retired in the next few years.
Those coal-fired plants represented virtually all — more than 92% — of the state’s electric generation in 2018.
But the aging fleet of coal-fired plants in our state is not the only thing our political leaders have not been reading on that wall in recent days and years.
Murray Energy Corp., on Tuesday, became the fifth large coal company to throw in the towel to bankruptcy court this year. Coal once fueled about half of all U.S. electricity; now it powers less than a quarter.
Coal miners’ numbers have dropped to about 14,000 — about 12% of the 125,000 miners in West Virginia in 1950.
We applaud Longview’s CEO for being willing to not just say that our state’s coal industry is in transition. Because it’s not in transition, it’s sinking like a ship.
And he’s just not talking the talk, either. His company is actually in the process of building a new, $1.1 billion electric-generating facility based on a combination of natural gas and solar generating units.
But just for a moment, let’s suspend our disbelief again that all it was going to take is an executive order, or 10, from the president to revive the coal industry.
Let’s also take the glut of cheaper and available natural gas out of the equation along with increasingly cheaper and available renewables.
Also forget that despite coal-fired plants accounting for 92% of our state’s electricity, less than a third of state residents heat their homes with that coal-fired electricity.
Or that some West Virginia power plants import up to 50% of their coal from other states, due to the price.
Set all of that aside, because according to President Trump, with a sweep of his pen, undoing the Clean Power Plan, quitting the Paris Climate Accord and gutting environmental regulations he would revive the coal industry. Remember?
Or if you want to believe our aged congressional delegation, whose re-election always takes precedence to the truth, there’s still hope for the coal industry.
We don’t believe there is hope for the coal industry or any reason to be hopeful. We want new ideas and new leadership to ensure our past is not our legacy.
When our leaders no longer even express a political will to change, it’s time to vote for a change in 2020.
They will have to listen to that.