Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to Solve the Coal Problem Tomorrow

Buy them out.

Buy all the coal company stock shares, and give the industry's workers their salary and benefits today for the rest of their lives. Then shut the entire industry down.

It would all pay for itself in just 1.5 years.

This isn't my idea, but now I can't remember where I first read it. So I whipped up some analysis on my own.

US coal companies are, sadly for them, worth surprisingly little right now -- I estimate it's just over a billion dollars (click to enlarge):

The value in workers is much, much higher. The average worker in the industry makes almost $84,000 per year, and there are about 80,000 workers. Their average age is 44, so they have 21 years until they can retire. Buying them out now would cost about $150 billion (click to enlarge):

So it would cost about $150 B total to save at least $100 B/yr. That's quite a deal. 

(And the $100 billion per year damage cost doesn't include the cost of climate change, which will last for at least 100,000 years and is going to be enormous.)

Workers would keep the income they've come to depend on. No one would need to be retrained -- but intensive retraining programs should be part of the package, of course. And ideally, funding for educational opportunities for younger workers and their children. Stockholders would get the market price. 

What's not to like? 

US coal production peaked in 2006. It does not seem likely to recover:


ncdave4life said...

And then freeze in the dark. Yeah, that's really "healthy."

David Appell said...

No one is suggesting anyone freeze in the dark (obviously), but that we need to generate the energy we need without emitting carbon, and as soon as possible.