Eastern Kentucky has been hit hardest in recent years and, true, the disproportionate job losses in Appalachia are largely due to market factors. On the demand side, the falling price of natural gas has turned the attention of power plant operators away from coal in general. On the supply side, Eastern Kentucky has taken a particularly damaging hit as decades of coal mining has rendered the remaining supply of the black rock in Appalachia harder and harder – and more costly – to get to. That’s not even to mention the fact that Western Kentucky coal, formerly less desirable due to its higher sulfur content, is now more in vogue due to power plant emission controls.
The new EPA mandates finalized over the past two years, as well as President Obama’s newest executive orders taking advantage of climate change hysteria, could be the final nail in the coffin for Appalachia’s energy sector. Though Eastern Kentucky got to this point largely due to economic factors, these new regulations are designed to crystallize its dismal economic outlook. In the very likely case that market supply and demand factors do change – and they constantly are doing just that – Eastern Kentucky, and the nation’s entire coal industry for that matter, will not have a chance to rebound.
And that’s because the current administration’s draconian rules are designed to keep Kentucky coal precisely where it currently stands – at its lowest point in recorded history.