For the time being, the U.S. has shunned its friend King Coal in favor of ‘cleaner’ and cheaper sources of power like natural gas. And there’s no better example of this phenomenon than the recent announcement by SunCoke Energy Inc. that 90 workers at Dominion Coal’s No. 36 mine in Buchanan County will be laid off.
According to the SunCoke Energy’s vice president for coal operations, James M. Mullins, the No. 36 mine has “been hit by a “significant downturn” in the coal market.”
Included in the layoffs are 39 underground contractors and 51 miners.
While the layoffs are an unfortunate consequence of America’s shifting emphasis onto cleaner burning sources of power, the move away from coal is an unequivocally necessary step towards reducing America’s global temperature-raising emissions.
Coal, whether in its so-called ‘clean’ variety’ or not, also has a number of significant and negative health-related consequences that also make its use immoral in light of the cleaner alternatives available. By now you probably know many of the arguments related to coal’s negative health effects.
It is here, in this arena of unemployment that the federal and respective state governments have a role to play.
Individuals who are laid off in the coal sector of our economy should receive some form of government training and short-term financial assistance to reintegrate them into a more viable sector of the economy. For as much as I disdain coal, the men and women in the coal industry have powered our ways of life for generations. These individuals are akin to U.S. soldiers fighting an unpopular war that sustains our way of life but that few people know about or are willing to acknowledge.
America must continue to move away from coal and encourage other countries to do so as well. But this shift away from coal should also include programs that retrain and support those individuals who have lost their job due to America’s shifting power source demands.