In his column in The Forum last week, David Horsey might be correct that during the 2008 presidential election he never heard candidates say they were going to save jobs in the newspaper industry. But what we did hear the eventual winner of that election say was that he fully intended to bankrupt the coal industry. During the past eight years in office, the president has systematically implemented a regulatory playbook that seeks to force utilities to stop burning coal, keep coal producers from mining, and restrict access to global coal markets. All to achieve his promise to make "electricity rates necessarily skyrocket."
Coal has its challenges. The shale revolution brought about more economical production and an abundance of cheap natural gas, currently an overabundance that the market will eventually correct. However, that's about where the free market stops competing against coal. Federally-supported wind production has turned the power markets upside-down. When the wind blows, that power must be let onto the grid - take it or leave it - increasingly at the expense of stable power generators like coal. Cap that off with regulations like the Clean Power Plan; the New Source Performance Standard that represents a de facto ban on new coal plants; the so-called Stream Protection Rule that will take half of our mining reserves off the table and the moratorium on federal coal leasing. The list goes on, but it's clear that the heavy hand of government rests squarely on the scale against coal.
And let's not fool ourselves, the administration and its allies have their sights set on the oil and gas industry as well. If that end were achieved, we'll get our energy only when the wind blows and the sun shines. Cold and dark would be the actual legacy of this policy agenda.
So when Donald Trump says he wants to save coal miners jobs, he's not saying that the government needs to save their jobs. He understands that their jobs need saving from the federal government. This distinction is in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, who has vowed to put coal miners out of work, but offers up a $30 billion taxpayer-funded mea culpa to help "retrain" them for jobs they just want to keep in the first place.
Trump gets it and millions of American voters get it. Renewable energy has its place but fossil fuels are a way of life, and we are thankful for the good-paying jobs the industry provides, and the affordable and reliable energy that powers our society. Trump simply wants to allow the industry to do its job, with government acting as a responsible regulator rather than social reformist.
Cramer is a U.S. congressman serving North Dakota