Indiana Daily Student

EDITORIAL: End federal coal subsidies

Since 1882, Great Britain has burned coal in order to provide some of its power. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution through two world wars, and until April 21, 2017, power derived from coal has been used every day.

Finally, on April 21, none of the energy used in Great Britain came from the coal industry. This is a positive step for Great Britain and should be an example for the United States.

The United States should phase out subsidies for coal production in order to allow more environmental and cost-effective forms of energies to become market standard.

While a single day without coal may seem insignificant overall, Great Britain once had so much air pollution that a great smog covered London in 1952, which many public health officials cite as leading to multiple deaths.

As of now, Great Britain has plans to move away from all coal officially in 2025 to reduce carbon 
emissions.

In terms of money, the United States Powder River Basis receives a subsidy of about $8 per ton produced, equating to an annual total subsidy of just under $3 billion. The current market price of coal generally hovers around $30 per ton.  

Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis found that, while coal is cheaper, one needs to take into account the years of extensive subsidies that have taken place in order for it to be the cheaper form of energy. The subsidies in question include tax breaks for companies, cheap leases and funding for the restoration after a mining project is completed.

While at face value coal is cheaper, it is only a result of the large subsidies placed on it as a result of the government and its 
subsides.

There are cheaper and more efficient energies that should take precedence over coal. The most obvious and available at this moment is natural gas. Natural gas has less than 50 percent of the carbon emissions that a coal plant does and burns less carbon dioxide than standard gasoline. It is readily available and is becoming one of the most common forms of energy power in the United States. However, while natural gas is a cheaper alternative, fracking and the methane emission could be harmful for the environment as well. At the moment, renewable energies such as wind and solar are becoming more 
viable by the day.

Going green has always been viewed as a luxury that only people of a certain economic class can achieve. The Editorial Board believes by ending coal subsidies, the United States can open the free market to more cost-effective and greener sources of energy.

Maybe in thirty years we can effectively say that the United States is completely coal free.

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