Jim Justice, the Republican governor of West Virginia, is floating a federal proposal to bail out the struggling Appalachian coal industry at a cost to taxpayers of up to $4.5 billion a year.
As Justice described it to the Wall Street Journal, under the proposal, the federal government would pay out $15 to eastern power companies for each ton of Appalachian coal they purchase.
Justice is attempting to sell the proposal as a “homeland security initiative” for protecting the eastern energy grid. He told a West Virginia newspaper that “if you’re all on gas or you’re all on gas and western coal and somebody puts a bomb at a gas junction point or somebody puts a bomb on a bridge coming from the west, you could very well lose the entire eastern power grid.”
Right, and if we switch to distributed generation (roof-top solar and neighborhood/city-wide solar farms) then someone blowing up a pipeline (pipelines do explode with worrying frequency, but because of incompetence, poor maintenance, and accidents, not because of “terrorism”) has a negligible effect on the grid. Centralized power distribution (like we have now) is HIGHLY vulnerable to mishap, neglect, natural disaster, and attack.
$4.5 billion would be better spent on modernizing the grid, moving from coal to renewable power and re-training coal miners for green energy jobs. Seems to me that it is better to work outside in the fresh air and sunshine, than in a hole in the ground.