Unspinning Truth Spun

10/28/2018 / Dan Schafer

Unspinning Truth Spun

We live in a day when the spin you give to information often blurs reality. The present administration has a program called “Affordable Clean Energy” which is an attempt, for one thing, to revive the use of coal for electrical power, and for another to undo the previous administration’s “Clean Power Plan”

First let’s address the “Affordable” term. One would expect that it would mean electricity will become cheaper.

1)  Well, it will, by a whopping 0.1% to 0.2% by 2035. If your electric bill was $120 and we use the average 0.15%, it will become $119.82. I hope that 18 cents helps you save. The $2.16 per year will fill the piggy bank pretty slowly unless you change it into pennies.

Or perhaps by the term affordable it was intended to imply there will be other economic benefits, like, perhaps, employment in the coal industry.

Let us have a look at the facts.

1)  According to the Wikipedia site for Coal mining in the United States, “Production in 2017 was down 33% from the peak production of 1,162.7 million tons in 2006. Employment of 50,000 coal miners is down from a peak of 883,000 in 1923, but for the year 2017 itself, there was about a 1.6% increase on 2016, due, not to policy, but to unseasonably cold weather and rising demand for coal from other countries.

2) The Energy Information Administration expects U.S. coal production in 2018 to fall 2%, and in 2019 another 2%.

It seems that, however you spin this, like the president’s claim in July 2017 that, “we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time,” there is considerably more spin than reality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported then that there were 800 coal mining jobs added, that 1.6% Wikipedia accounted for above.

Many of us may prefer the “spun” version, perhaps because there is a feel good factor.  But  we should address the “Clean” element of the so called “Affordable Clean Energy” plan also. It may surprise us how that may affect us or someone we know. And I guess we won’t be talking about feeling good. Keep watching this space.


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