I bet you thought that with the end of the election, you were done hearing about the “War on Coal.” That is because you do not understand how wars work. In a war, you have a series of skirmishes and battles. The end of one battle does not mean the war is over, people. Look it up in a history book. And so the “War on Coal” continues even to this day, except not really, because it is made up.
Tuesday night saw the culmination of the non-war’s biggest battle: the battle for Washington. The winner was obvious. From Politico:
Mitt Romney’s strategy for picking up coal country was simple: paint President Barack Obama as the enemy of the region’s important industry.
But millions of dollars in advertising later, Obama still picked up Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia — states Romney needed desperately, leaving him with only West Virginia. …
Even several Democrats in down-ballot races were victorious despite Republican efforts to tie them to Obama’s EPA regulations and other mandates opposed by the coal industry.
Coal advocates insist the complete loss they saw on Tuesday won’t keep them down.
“The 2012 election will be remembered as the campaign for coal,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for ["]Clean Coal["] Electricity. “Millions of coal voters have been activated, and will be an important presence not just in this election but in the years to come.”
There are about 80,000 people employed as coal miners in the United States, so “millions” may be a tiny exaggeration. If their presence is as influential in the future as it was in this election, coal opponents don’t need to worry much.
The markets think they know where the “war” is headed: south. From Marketwatch yesterday:
Energy stocks were among the top decliners on the S&P 500, with coal miners and natural-gas producers some of the worst hit amid losses for the broad U.S. stock market.
Coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. shares were the top losers on the S&P 500, and rivals posting even steeper losses.
Peabody lost 7%. James River Coal Co. shares declined 24%, while Arch Coal Inc. shares declined 11%. …
Analysts had … predicted coal stocks would perform better under the energy policies of a Romney administration than a second Obama administration, which continues to back the development of alternatives to fossil fuels.
Prices for each of the stocks are trading near the same level they were when Obama took office, following a big spike in early 2011. One of the main problems the coal industry faces, as our David Roberts has exhaustively noted, is that coal production costs are rising as the remaining supply becomes harder and harder to access. In military terms, Mother Nature is what is known as an “ally” in the “War on Coal,” hiding the stuff deep underground where it’s harder to access and burn. (She’s probably mad about what coal has done to her air.)
We can’t provide an overview of the state of the war without checking in with our favorite general, the always-engaging Robert E. Murray. Well, not really a general. More like a bumbling superspy, except not super.
Murray’s contribution to the post-election conversation is so perfect, so Murray-y, that we present it in full, as it appears in the Wheeling News-Register. This, you see, was a prayer that Murray presented to employees at his coal company on Wednesday, given to the paper when asked if he planned to lay off any employees. Enjoy.
Mr. Robert E. Murray’s Prayer, as shared with his workers:
The American people have made their choice. They have decided that America must change its course, away from the principals of our Founders. And, away from the idea of individual freedom and individual responsibility. Away from capitalism, economic responsibility, and personal acceptance.
We are a Country in favor of redistribution, national weakness and reduced standard of living and lower and lower levels of personal freedom.
My regret, Lord, is that our young people, including those in my own family, never will know what America was like or might have been. They will pay the price in their reduced standard of living and, most especially, reduced freedom.
The takers outvoted the producers. In response to this, I have turned to my Bible and in II Peter, Chapter 1, verses 4-9 it says, “To faith we are to add goodness; to goodness, knowledge; to knowledge, self control; to self control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, kindness; to brotherly kindness, love.”
Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build. We ask for your guidance in this drastic time with the drastic decisions that will be made to have any hope of our survival as an American business enterprise.
I bet the staff was excited about that “decisions we are now forced to make” bit. Though your war may be fake, Mr. Murray, your drastic melodrama certainly is not. Fight on, brave soldier. Fight on.