Diversification will be slowed by war on coal

It has been suggested that President Barack Obama’s war on coal represents an opportunity West Virginians should seize. The argument is that the Mountain State’s economy has depended on coal for too long. Now, a few have said, we should diversify the economy.

Of course West Virginia and its residents should not put all our economic eggs in one basket. That goes without saying.

But efforts to diversify the economy have been underway for many years. Replacing the good-paying jobs in the coal industry is not easy, however.

And Obama’s campaign will make it much more difficult. That is because his vendetta against the coal industry has ramifications outside communities where many miners reside.

Eliminating the coal-fired power plants on which about 40 percent of Americans – and about 95 percent of West Virginians – rely for electricity will be devastating to our economy. Household electric bills will go up by hundreds of dollars a year. Businesses, especially those using relatively large amounts of power, will suffer even more.

Everyone and every business will be hurt in our state. Elsewhere, the impact will not be as harsh.

That will make it even more difficult to bring good, new jobs to West Virginia. Diversification will mean turning from coal and other existing industries to unemployment and welfare benefits.

No amount of polishing can put a sheen on Obama’s war on coal. From any standpoint, it is bad for West Virginia.