“Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said that “the claim that taxpayers should subsidize Appalachian coal for national security reasons is meritless.”
“Western coal production surpassed eastern coal production two decades ago,” Bordoff added, “and eastern coal has been in decline since the 1990s, but this has not led to grid reliability problems.” He noted that “the U.S. has a well-developed and integrated energy infrastructure and rail network, as well as storage system, and in the event of temporary disruptions, supplies could be rerouted and stocks drawn.”
Appalachian coal is more expensive to extract and more of an environmental hazard than coal is out west, where coal is closer to the surface.
“At $4.5 billion, the bailout would have a hefty annual price tag. It’s more than 1 billion dollars greater than the entire budget of the National Park Service, for instance. Looked at another way, $4.5 billion works out to roughly $132,000 in federal spending for each of the roughly 34,000 employees of coal companies in northern and central Appalachia.”