The war on coal won't cost jobs in a depressed economy, it "could be just what our economy needs":
Invest, Divest and Prosper, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: It has been a busy news week, what with voting rights, gay marriage and Paula Deen. Even so, it’s remarkable how little attention the news media gave to President Obama’s new “climate action plan.”...; this is ... a very big deal. For this time around, Mr. Obama wasn’t touting legislation we know won’t pass. The new plan is, instead, designed to rely on executive action. This means that ... it can bypass the anti-environmentalists who control the House of Representatives.
Republicans realize this, and ... right now they don’t seem eager to attack climate science, maybe because that would make them sound unreasonable (which they are). Instead, they’re ... denouncing the Obama administration for waging a “war on coal” that will destroy jobs.
And you know what? They’re half-right. The new Obama plan is, to some extent, a war on coal — because reducing our use of coal is, necessarily, going to be part of any serious effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But making war on coal won’t destroy jobs. In fact, serious new regulation of greenhouse emissions ...
It’s always important to remember that what ails the U.S. economy right now isn’t lack of productive capacity, but lack of demand. The housing bust, the overhang of household debt and ill-timed cuts in public spending have created a situation in which nobody wants to spend; and because your spending ... this leads to a depressed economy over all. ...
Suppose that electric utilities, in order to meet the new rules, decide to close some existing power plants and invest in new, lower-emission capacity. Well, that’s an increase in spending, and more spending is exactly what our economy needs.
O.K., it’s still not clear whether any of this will happen. Some of the people I talk to are cynical..., believing that the president won’t actually follow through. All I can say is, I hope they’re wrong.
Near the end of his speech, the president urged his audience to: “Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.” Normally, one would be tempted to dismiss this as the sound of someone waving away the need for hard choices. But, in this case, it was simple good sense: We really can invest in new energy sources, divest from old sources, and actually make the economy stronger. So let’s do it.