Join the Fight for Energy Freedom
Radical environmental groups, greedy investor-owned utilities, and liberal billionaires are working together to shut down perfectly good coal-powered electricity generation across America. This “premature retirement” of the nation’s coal fleet is causing electricity prices to rise and will lead to rolling blackouts in many parts of the country. It must be stopped before America’s best-in-the-world energy system is permanently crippled.
The War on Coal Was Very Real.
Coal has been a mainstay of economic growth and human well-being in the United States and advanced countries around the world for more than a century. Coal powered the Industrial Revolution and enabled the United States to electrify in the twentieth century, creating the most prosperous and free nation in human history.
More than 260 coal-fired power plants have closed since 2010 due to onerous regulations imposed by the Obama administration, state renewable energy mandates, federal renewable energy subsidies, and competition from natural gas power plants. Science, economics, and new political realities say these closures need to stop before America’s electricity supply is dangerously compromised.
The war on coal was led from the White House and backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from left-wing foundations including the Rockefeller Brothers, Energy Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation to environmental activist groups including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council. Just one donor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has given more than $168 million to the Sierra Club to support the effort.
While running for president in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that under his cap-and-trade proposal, anyone who wanted to build a coal-fired power plant could do so, but it would bankrupt them. Obama said “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under his plan.
As president, Obama was never able to enact cap-and-trade legislation, so he sought other ways of “skinning the cat.” He directed EPA to draft a series of regulations that would adversely and dramatically affect coal-fired power plants as a means of fulfilling his campaign promise to fundamentally transform the energy makeup of the United States.
Obama’s war on coal had its intended effect. More than 250 coal-fired power plants were retired between 2010 and 2017, taking offline more than 34,000 megawatts (34 gigawatts) of power generation capacity. Coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation fell from 50 percent of total generation in 2008 to 31 percent in 2017. Reduced demand resulted in significant job losses in the coal industry, a matter discussed in the third Policy Study in this series.
Retiring the nation’s coal-fired power plants increases electricity prices because on average, existing coal plants generate electricity more affordably than the new plants that replace them. Additionally, retiring the coal-fired power fleet puts the reliability of the grid at greater risk. Low-priced natural gas is an attractive option for generating electricity, but prices and availability can fluctuate, which is why prudent public utilities usually want electricity from a mix of sources, including coal.
Trump is Ending the War on Coal.
As part of his America First Energy Plan, Trump has vowed to end the war on coal and work instead to protect and expand energy freedom. His administration has made good steps in that direction, including revoking or reconsidering unnecessary environmental regulations, withdrawing from the Paris Accord, and retracting the deeply flawed “social cost of carbon” estimates used to justify regulations.
Importantly, the Trump administration also dissolved the inter-agency group that has produced the highly biased and alarmist National Climate Assessments, and is placing independent scholars on EPA’s scientific review boards, replacing some members who have financial conflicts of interest.
See our Energy Freedom Score Card to see how the Trump administration is doing, and what remains to be done.
Ultimately, the administration will need to rescind the “endangerment finding,” the underlying foundation of regulations built up during the Obama years if Trump is to succeed with his energy plan and prevent activist groups or future administrations from undoing his work.
We Need Your Help!
Here are five ways you can help end the war on coal and other fossil fuels:
1. Get informed. Use the links in the navigation bar at the top of this page to find news articles, research, commentary, and videos about why the war on coal and other fossil fuels is a war on freedom and must be stopped. Watch videos from Heartland’s America First Energy Conference to see who is leading the fight for energy freedom.
2. Educate your friends, relatives, and colleagues by sharing links to the research and commentary to you find on this site. Ask them to join you in ending the war on coal.
3. Write or call your elected officials, at the local and state and federal levels, and tell them you oppose the premature retirement of coal-fired electrical plants. Tell them you support President Trump’s America First Energy Plan.
4. Use the sign-up widget at the upper right of this page to join our Energy Freedom Action Team, a group of concerned citizens willing to help us communicate with civic and business leaders, elected officials, and journalists about why we must protect our energy resources.
5. Make a special tax-deductible contribution to The Heartland Institute so we can continue our educational efforts on this vitally important issue. Go here to make a donation today.
Heartland's Work on Coal
News and Op-eds
High Coal Demand Expected Through at Least 2024, Study Finds
Kevin Stone, The Heartland Institute, January 27, 2020
Federal Science Panel Rejects Stricter Air Particulate Standards
Duggan Flanakin, The Heartland Institute, January 8, 2020
Report Assesses Economic Damage of ‘Carbon Taxes’
Hayley Sledge, The Heartland Institute, December 18, 2019
Oregon Ballot Initiatives Target Fossil Fuels
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, December 12, 2019
University of California System Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment
Kenneth Artz, The Heartland Institute, December 3, 2019
Trump Administration Makes Paris Climate Agreement Pullout Official
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, November 25, 2019
EPA to Rescind East Texas Air-Quality Nonattainment Designation
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, October 10, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, October 7, 2019
Duggan Flanakin, The Heartland Institute, September 26, 2019
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, September 18, 2019
Duggan Flanakin, The Heartland Institute, August 29, 2019
Carley Good, The Heartland Institute, August 26, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, October 15, 2019
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, August 2, 2019
Vivian Jones, The Heartland Institute, August 1, 2019
Kenneth Artz, The Heartland Institute, July 22, 2019
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, July 3, 2019
Kenneth Artz, The Heartland Institute, July 2, 2019
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, June 26, 2019
Ronald Stein, The Heartland Institute, May 13, 2019
Arianna Wilkerson, The Heartland Institute, April 26, 2019
Bud Weinstein, The Heartland Institute, April 25, 2019
Tim Benson, The Heartland Institute, April 24, 2019
Kenneth Artz, The Heartland Institute, April 4, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, March 15, 2019
Christopher Talgo, The Heartland Institute, March 7, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, March 5, 2019
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, February 19, 2019
Edward Hudgins, The Heartland Institute, January 30, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, January 3, 2019
Bonner Cohen, The Heartland Institute, December 24, 2018
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute, December 21, 2018
Tim Benson, The Heartland Institute, December 19, 2018
Tim Benson, June 26, 2018
EPA Streamlines Industrial Facility Upgrade Process
Bonner Cohen, Environment & Climate News, April 25, 2018
Tax Reform Delivers Cheaper Electricity
H. Sterling Burnett, Detroit News, April 19, 2018
U.S. Energy Markets: The Real Russian Meddling the Media Ignores
H. Sterling Burnett, American Spectator, April 18, 2018
Russia Uses Activists, Web to Slow U.S. Energy Production, Congress Reports
H. Sterling Burnett, Environment & Climate News, April 17, 2018
Arizona Senate Puts Coal Tax Relief Bill on Hold
Tim Benson, Environment & Climate News, April 16, 2018
The Double Standards Industry
Paul Driessen, The Heartland Institute, April 16, 2018
Colorado Must Keep The Comanche Power Plant Running At Full Steam
Isaac Orr, RedState, April 9, 2018
Fossil Fuels Under Fire
H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly, April 3, 2018
EPA Rejects Connecticut’s Request for Limits on Pennsylvania Coal Plant
Bonner Cohen, Environment & Cliamte News, April 2, 2018
WE Energies Values Corporate Profits More than Its Ratepayers
Isaac Orr, The Heartland Institute, March 7, 2018
Making Electricity Markets Competitive Again
Isaac Orr, Investor’s Business Daily, February 27, 2018
Real Needs Are Being Ignored in the Pursuit of Green Fantasies
H. Sterling Burnett, Inside Sources, February 27, 2018
Time for the Clean Power Plan to Go, Endangerment Finding Should Be Next
H. Sterling Burnett, Cornwall Alliance, January 31, 2018
President Trump on Energy and the Environment, an Assessment of His First Year
H. Sterling Burnett, Breitbart, January 22, 2018
Closing Coal Plant in Pleasant Prairie Will Increase Electricity Prices
Isaac Orr, Wisconsin State Journal, December 28, 2017
Blame Government, Not the Market, For Dwindling Coal Industry
Isaac Orr, The Hill, December 15, 2017
Trump EPA Puts Clean Power Plan on Trial in Coal Country
Isaac Orr, RealClearEnergy, December 12, 2017
We Must Eliminate Renewable Energy Subsidies to Ensure Reliable, Affordable Electricity
Isaac Orr, Orange County Register, November 23, 2017
Trump and the End of Obama's Bitter 'War on Coal'
H. Sterling Burnett, The Hill, September 30, 2017
Before Closing the Waukegan Coal Plant, Lawmakers Should Consider California’s Failures
Isaac Orr and Fred Palmer, Lake County Gazette, September 11, 2017
Germany Should Say Danke for U.S. Oil
Isaac Orr, Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2017
Coal, the Nation's Power Grid and the Broken Window Fallacy
Isaac Orr and Fred Palmer, Cleveland Sun, July 16, 2017
Real Energy Expert Destroys John Oliver’s Ignorant, Profanity-Laced Rant About Coal
Rich Trzupek, Breitbart, July 7, 2017
Paris Climate Agreement and the ‘America First’ Energy Plan
Fred Palmer, Breitbart, May 31, 2017
When It Comes to a Carbon Tax, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Tom Walton, RealClearEnergy, April 27, 2017
Renewable Energy Myths Abound
Isaac Orr, Detroit News, April 12, 2017
Dayton Power And Light Should Keep The Lights On By Saving Coal Plants
Isaac Orr, Investor’s Business Daily, April 4, 2017
Trump's order improved the fortunes of coal and American economy
H. Sterling Burnett, The Hill, March 29, 2017
Climate-Driven Coal Closures Harm Investors, Workers And Ratepayers
H. Sterling Burnett, Forbes, March 20, 2017
Trump’s Energy, Climate Plans Will Put America First Again
H. Sterling Burnett, American Spectator, November 25, 2016
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY: US Transition to 100 Percent Renewable Energy Would Lead to Catastrophe
Tim Benson, April 24, 2019
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY: Illinois Should Abolish not Expand Renewable Portfolio Standard
Tim Benson, March 19, 2019
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY: Renewables Energy Standard Expansion Would Cost Minnesotans Billions
Tim Benson, March 15, 2019
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY: Renewables Portfolio Standard Expansion Would Disproportionally Harm Low Income New Mexicans
Tim Benson, February 15, 2019
Heartland's Four-Part Series of Coal Papers
HEARTLAND POLICY STUDY: How the Premature Retirement of Coal-Fired Power Plants Affects Energy Reliability, Affordability
Isaac Orr, Frederick D. Palmer, February 1, 2018
Other Research and Commentary
Federal Judge Overturns Oakland’s Ban on Coal Export Terminal
Bonner Cohen, June 29, 2018
Congress, Think Tanks State Opposition to Carbon Taxes
H. Sterling Burnett, June 22, 2018
House Votes to Modify Emissions Limits for Some Coal-Fired Power Plants
Bonner Cohen, May 3, 2018
Energy Department Calls for Smaller, Modular Coal Power Plants
Joe Barrett, April 30, 2018
Study Shows How ‘Zombie Regulations’ Are Closing Perfectly Good Coal Plants
Tim Benson, April 25, 2018
Arizona Senate Puts Coal Tax Relief Bill on Hold
Tim Benson, April 16, 2018
Trump Administration Eases Coal-Ash Disposal Regulations
Bonner Cohen, April 9, 2018
Connecticut Governor’s Climate Bills Costly and Unnecessary
Tim Benson, March 23, 2018
Reliability, Resilience and the Oncoming Wave fo Retiring Baseload Units
Peter Balash et.al., National Energy Technology Laboratory, March 13, 2018
Carbon Tax Proposal Still a Bad Deal for Connecticut Residents
Tim Benson, March 12, 2018
Tim Benson, March 8, 2018
Tim Benson, March 6, 2018
Tim Benson, March 5, 2018
Tim Benson, March 1, 2018
The World is Getting Better Thanks to Fossil Fuels! (Guest: Merril Matthews)
H. Sterling Burnett, January 9, 2002
Explaining Energy Reality to the General Public (Guest: Ronald Stein)
H. Sterling Burnett, October 17, 2019
The Incalculable Societal Benefits of Fossil Fuels (Guest: Roger Bezdek)
H. Sterling Burnett, August 15, 2019
Fossil Fuels: Feeding The World and Restoring Wildlife Habitat (Guest: Dennis Avery)
H. Sterling Burnett, February 27, 2019
Russia Meddled in U.S. Energy Markets Through Environmental Groups (Guest: John Droz)
H. Sterling Burnett, March 28, 2018
Climate Science Special Report: All Politics, No Science (Guest: Jay Lehr)
H. Sterling Burnett, March 14, 2018
In The Tank (ep129) – Trump-ing Reagan? Fresh Prince, Obamacare Waivers, and Coal Power
Donny Kendal, John Nothdurft, March 2. 2018
Why Did the Obama Administration Wage a War on Coal?
Isaac Orr, Jim Lakely. February 9, 2018
California Invests Public Employee Retirement Funds in Sustainable Energy… To Pitiful Results
Isaac Orr, Tim Doyle, January 25, 2018
Is The Environmental Movement Just For Show?
Isaac Orr, Todd Myers, January 10, 2018
Australia, From Coal Power to Blackouts
Isaac Orr, Dr. Alan Moran, December 19, 2017
Australia, a Cautionary Tale
Jim Lakely, Fred Palmer, November 6, 2017
Mary Hutzler: If Natural Gas and Coal Are So Cheap Right Now, Why Do My Power Bills Keep Going Up?
Isaac Orr, August 15, 2017
Fred Palmer: America and Coal's Brighter Future under President Trump
H. Sterling Burnett, June 5, 2017
Flashes of Freedom: Coal is Green
March 2, 2018