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Environmentalists Propose $50 Billion Buyout of Coal Industry - To Shut It Down

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the could-but-won't-because-reality dept.

Power 712

cartechboy writes "What's $50 billion among friends, right? At least Felix Kramer and Gil Friend are thinking big, so there is that. The pair have published an somewhat audacious proposal to spend $50 billion dollars to buy up and then shut down every single private and public coal company operating in the United States. The scientific benefits: eliminating acid rain, airborne emissions, etc). The shutdown proposal includes the costs of retraining for the approximately 87,000 coal-industry workers who would lose their jobs over the proposed 10-year phaseout of coal. Since Kramer and Friend don't have $50 billion, they suggest the concept could be funded as a public service and if governments can't do it maybe some rich guys can — and the names Gates, Buffett and Bloomberg come up. Any takers?"

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This is what Thatcher was good at (0, Troll)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46465767)

Margaret Thatcher may have been a truly horrific Prime Minister, but she wrote the book on how to shut down a mining industry.

Smear them in the press. Sequestrate the assets of the unions. Send in a few thousand thugs to beat them up and secretly burn down a few cottages while blaming Welsh nationalists.

It worked a treat.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (5, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 months ago | (#46465845)

Are you still dancing on that woman's grave? Jeez, conservatives didn't celebrate this much when Joseph Freaking Stalin died.

Didn't Hate Week sate your hatred? You know, the week after she died when you had hate parades to show just how much you hated her. No, seriously, this really happened. Hate parades.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (0, Troll)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46466001)

Yes, it's okay to hate thatcher, if you're British. She did terrible fucking things to her own country in pursuit of an unworkable ideology. It'd be okay to hate Stalin this much if you lived under him.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466159)

Yes, it's okay to hate thatcher, if you're British. She did terrible fucking things to her own country in pursuit of an unworkable ideology. It'd be okay to hate Stalin this much if you lived under him.

You have no idea just how stupid you sound. If you can compare Thatcher to Stalin... you have to be an idiot or totally ignorant. Not liking her policies or ideology is one thing, comparing her to one of the greatest mass murderers in history is another. Grow up. It may be the internet but it has enough ignorance without this.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466207)

Except he didn't compare them. The GP did. He only said it would be acceptable to hate "one of the greatest mass murderers in history" as you so put it yourself. By your choice of wording, I'm assuming you, too, hate him. And yet for some reason, you use this as an excuse to act like a child while telling him to grow up?

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46466003)

You betcha.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (0, Troll)

Garridan (597129) | about 5 months ago | (#46466193)

Maybe that's because Stalin was a totalitarian, which totally jives with the conservative mindset. Want to know who else conservatives didn't celebrate the demise of? Hitler. Is that because conservatives are evil? No. It's because they're too blind with greed to recognize any evil other than "taxes" (which they desperately depend upon to keep their businesses solvent).

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (0, Troll)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46466253)

Didn't Hate Week sate your hatred? You know, the week after she died when you had hate parades to show just how much you hated her.

FWIW, so did the Munchkins, after Dorothy landed her house on the wicked witch.

Sometimes a "hate parade" is appropriate, when the person being hated was a royal fuckwad.

Re: This is what Thatcher was good at (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465885)

Sounds complicated. Just burn them and their customers with excessive taxes.

Re: This is what Thatcher was good at (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 5 months ago | (#46466145)

Sounds complicated. Just burn them and their customers with excessive taxes.

And use those taxes to put the miners on welfare.

Yuh.

Re:This is what Thatcher was good at (4, Informative)

AGMW (594303) | about 5 months ago | (#46466063)

Obviously carefully stepping over the fact that the previous labour government (Callaghan was it?) shut more mines than Thatcher because, and here's the kicker, they were uneconomic! It cost more to dig up the coal than the coal was worth, and we could get coal cheaper from elsewhere, including the damn shipping costs! ... no really!

Had Scargill not tried to bring down the elected government by flexing the miner's muscle maybe the scenes of violence could have been avoided, but I'll grant you that anywhere the Met (London Police) got brought in it turned nasty, but that's more a reflection of the Met than Thatcher - the Met are _still_ a little too handy with their fists (see Ian Tomlinson [wikipedia.org] )

This is more than a little bit naive. (4, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | about 5 months ago | (#46465787)

For one, more plants would just spring up. Even if part of the buyout was "you may never go into coal again," someone else may. The economic structure of energy is why coal is still king, and buying out the current players won't change that.

For two, the cost of shutting that industry down does not cover the cost of starting new energy industries to replace it. Or were we just going to go without 37% of our electricity?

For three, coal works efficiently and predictably at far smaller scale than most energy technologies. Many of the locations coal services today cannot be practically services by other generation methods.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (3, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 months ago | (#46465871)

If you buy up all of the coal mines while you're at it, you'll not only drive up the price since it's all have to be imported, but the time taken to rebuild all of those plants would take quite a few years, during which time other competition would have moved in, making it much less lucrative to start a new coal power plant.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (4, Insightful)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 5 months ago | (#46466043)

There are many things that won't move on. Metallurgical coal for example. You'll drive up the price of other goods associated with the products made with it. That is ignoring that the power companies own many of the coal mines. You not only have to pay for the coal mine, but the loss of power generation directly.

TL;DR: Article is ignorant of how the coal industry works.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466265)

The article is ignorant of how basic economics work.

Contracts (2)

sycodon (149926) | about 5 months ago | (#46465889)

No mention either of contractual obligations to municipalities or business like large manufacturing plants, etc. Lawyers are salivating over this idea.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465907)

Common sense will not be tolerated, move along. We are trying to save the world here.
  On a sidenote: Can I be the middle man on this sale? I'll just shave a few percent. Honest.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 5 months ago | (#46466019)

Crowdsource it. At $300/stupid environmentalist, or $8 for every person on earth. The slush alone above the $50 billion you'll raise ought to be plenty.

Oh wait- $8 is more than *half the population of the planet makes in a week*.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1, Interesting)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46466259)

Here's an idea: eliminate ALL subsidies, across the board. Let fossil fuels and renewables duke it out on a truly level playing field. Speaking as a "green energy" advocate, I would welcome this challenge. So would Amory Lovins, [wikipedia.org] one of the "gurus" of the green movement.

Funny thing though, when it comes to talk about cutting these subsidies, the "big oil" boyz are all against it. Sure, they're against green energy subsidies, but if you want to cut their subsidies, all of a sudden you're threatening the "lifeblood" of the American Way[tm].

For a splash of cold water on the "fracking revolution" check out this interview with Chris Martenson and Richard Heinberg. [youtube.com] We are already in a much more precarious position than most people realize.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46465943)

Or were we just going to go without 37% of our electricity?

For certain values of people living in the Midwest, you can bump that figure up to at least 80%, if not 100.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466281)

You betcha. My electricity bills have a generation breakout graph every month. Shutting down coal mines would force a major portion of my electric network to simply brown- or black-out.

I'm amazed at the depths of stupidity that Liberals and other such freaks drop to when they are given the opportunity to type out their nonsensical ideology on a computer. When I was young, I had only suspected that most people were pretty dumb... now the Internet has confirmed that suspicion. The average intelligence is sadly quite dumb when it comes to understanding our own socio-economic systems.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (4, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 5 months ago | (#46465947)

Well if the $50B includes buying up the lands/rights where coal is, no one else could go into coal.

But I think $50B towards wind/solar would help replace coal more than trying to block it out.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about 5 months ago | (#46466123)

Yes, but that's not War On Coal thinking. The WOC folks are attempting to use force to ensure that we funnel all our money into their pet technologies Right Quick (tm), and that this will quickly get us back up and running. And if it doesn't, then we'll just have to Conserve (tm).

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (2)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#46466149)

But I think $50B towards wind/solar would help replace coal more than trying to block it out.

Exactly.

Put a quarter of that money (money that none of these groups have, they were planning to use YOURS), into research on wind and solar, and storage, and you will be doing the world far more good.

Besides, the net ripple effect would require far more than 50 Billion.

Re: This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466243)

Putting tons of money in research doesn't magically make the research turn succesful or get results faster. The best example is what has happened with research in hot fusion after pouring billions of dollars.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466021)

On the other hand, if they bought up all the coal mines then they might be able to stop coal power plants. For about a week until someone spots yet another vein of coal in Pennsylvania, and the coal plants have fuel again.

Almost mildly related: If these idiots really want to do something to reduce coal-related emissions, they should try to extinguish that big fire under Centralia [wikipedia.org] .

Retraining (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466055)

The whole "retrain" workers gets me.

Retrain them for what?

Let's assume that all of those workers have the talent to be retrained in any field. What would that be?

Are the billionaires also going to pay those folks to move to areas of the country that have other industries besides coal? Would the billionaires start other industries in coal country to absorb the workers?

Retraining is just a fantasy for policy makers. Folks get retrained and find that they still can't get a job. Part of the reason is that the labor market is still really tight and employers are not willing to hire entry level people because they don't have to. There are plenty of experienced people looking.

Anyway this "article" is nothing but a "what if" by the author; so it's not to be taken seriously.-+

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46466081)

For two, the cost of shutting that industry down does not cover the cost of starting new energy industries to replace it. Or were we just going to go without 37% of our electricity?

Yep. Any plan which doesn't include this is a non-starter.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46466091)

I'm amazed that the entire coal industry is only worth 50 billion.

if the market goes away, they shut, too (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 5 months ago | (#46466103)

so since the squillionnaire coal owners claim to be market-based fans, we can attain the same attrition by sticking to our guns in enforcing the upcoming regulations on cutting back emissions. the cost moves to the users, which will probably find natural gas cheaper anyway.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (3, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 5 months ago | (#46466121)

These people are just like PETA, they want everything to be the land of unicorns but they dont think about what doing the change will do to the rest of the world.

they dont think about the unintended consequences Sure lets just close down the major energy supply for most of the world, without a plan in the short term to replace it. We can all go 10-20 years without reliable electric right??

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46466169)

I'll kick in $1. Now all they need is 49,999,999,999 other people to do the same thing and they're all set! Maybe they could do a Kickstarter.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (5, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | about 5 months ago | (#46466211)

For two, the cost of shutting that industry down does not cover the cost of starting new energy industries to replace it. Or were we just going to go without 37% of our electricity?

I picture vast fields of hipsters pedaling bolted-down fixies with generators attached.

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466233)

For two, the cost of shutting that industry down does not cover the cost of starting new energy industries to replace it. Or were we just going to go without 37% of our electricity?

environmentalists won't be happy until we're using no labor saving devices to "rape mother Gaia".

Re:This is more than a little bit naive. (1)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#46466267)

You forgot to mention that the huge costs over the initial $50 billion-- the "write offs" they hand-wave away in the article-- will be put on the backs of middle-class taxpayers.

Errr, no. (4, Insightful)

blackicye (760472) | about 5 months ago | (#46465789)

This would never fly. The last 10% of the coal mines would just be laughing their way to the bank with this unexpected windfall.

Re: Errr, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465989)

That's what I was thinking. It's just like when the railroads tried to buy up land. You're going to get holdouts

Re:Errr, no. (0)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 5 months ago | (#46466013)

But the point is, the remaining 90% of the coal would be left in the ground, where it is not going to hurt anybody. This isn't about punishing coal miners or even mining companies. This is supposed to be about protecting the Earth's atmosphere and climate.

Re:Errr, no. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466277)

Right - because no one could possibly think of going back to get that coal once the companies were shut down. And of course we burn coal "just because" - its not like we *did* anything with coal that was useful. I'm sure that all the rest of our industry/economy that benefited from the coal use would just ...um .... uh ...

Oh, right. We could collapse without something to replace coal - which we currently do not have - I don't think their $50 billion covers that little problem...

Wanting to solve environmental problems is great and I encourage people to do so. However, any "solution" which refuses to acknowledge and address the reasons why the practice/industry/whatever was started is not a "solution" at all because it will never work.

How do we fill the energy gap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465795)

It's the main reason we mine coal, it's cheap energy. Without it energy prices would skyrocket.

Re:How do we fill the energy gap? (1, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 months ago | (#46465927)

Once you take in all of the external costs of coal, it is much more expensive. After a generation of no coal, we would probably see a quality of life improvement along with increased productivity and less healthcare costs, making prices drop or slow down.

Re:How do we fill the energy gap? (1)

JWW (79176) | about 5 months ago | (#46466071)

That would only happen if we were to replace coal with Nuclear. If we replace it with things that won't meet the demand or worse, with nothing, there will be rioting in the streets. Americans have come to put a huge value on a reliable power grid. If you give them a third world grid with daily blackouts, expect massive riots to happen.

Re:How do we fill the energy gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466093)

And in the mean time, I'll send you my electric bill

Re:How do we fill the energy gap? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 5 months ago | (#46466113)

Just explain how they are going to replace over one third of the electrical generation capacity of the United States.

Re:How do we fill the energy gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466155)

How expensive is it? Numbers?

I suspect the U.N. is behind this power grab (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465797)

Just google U.N. Agenda 21. It is a blatant attempt by the liberal left to install a global socialistic government and destroy the freedom's our country has fought so hard to protect. It must be stopped.

Re:I suspect the U.N. is behind this power grab (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466015)

Freedom to breathe polluted air!
Freedom to drink polluted water!

YEAH FREEDOM!

'Murica! Fuck yeah!

opposite of brilliant (4, Insightful)

brainspank (515274) | about 5 months ago | (#46465801)

imagine their sad faces when they realize that's what charges their electric cars.

Re:opposite of brilliant (-1, Troll)

thejuggler (610249) | about 5 months ago | (#46465931)

That would require Liberals to think about the consequences of their actions. They can't think that far ahead. All they can see if their fantasy land visions in their little heads. Bless their little hearts.

Re:opposite of brilliant (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 months ago | (#46465961)

Consequences? Those are for poor people.

Re:opposite of brilliant (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46466083)

Derp. "Liberals have never considered [obvious point that is a step along the way to goal]" because I say so.

Re:opposite of brilliant (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46466057)

You understand the point of electric cars is to enable the changeover from fossil fuels at a systemic level, right? The car doesn't care where the energy is coming from, allowing a regulatory framework to change as pragmatic options become available.

(My area's electricity is about 50% nuclear, 15% renewable)

Dual Fuel: Green != Liberal (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466231)

I have an uncle that is an ex-GE now consulting engineer in the coal power plant industry.

Many power plants are dual fuel: coal or NG. They run whatever is cheaper. And the thing is, at least with modern equipment coal burns as clean as Natural Gas. It even scrubs the metals out of the emissions: no mercury being emitted - or at least 99% of it.

Coal gets a bad rap because of its history and China - they're using 19th Century technology.

You know, General Electric is doing some great things with fossil fuels AND "Green" energy. It royally pisses me off when I hear "Green" energy (solar, wind, geothermal, hydro) labeled as "Liberal" when in fact it's the MOST capitalistic industry out there.

If anyone calls "Green" energy a "liberal" cause, they are just expressing their ignorance.

Replaced by what? (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#46465821)

This plan doesn't fund replacing the power from those plants with anything, just some hand waving about "renewable energy" being expanded in parallel. Cheap energy matters. The cost of everything we buy, everything we use, comes down to labor and energy costs. If you make energy more expensive everyone pays, and pays in a "regressive" way like a sales tax.

It might still makes sense, maybe, but it will take more than hand waving.

Re:Replaced by what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465937)

We already have the solution: build more nuclear plants or buy them from france.

Re:Replaced by what? (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about 5 months ago | (#46466153)

This plan doesn't fund replacing the power from those plants with anything, just some hand waving about "renewable energy" being expanded in parallel.

Indeed - this money would be better invested in these "renewable energy" alternatives.
As soon as something renewable and cheaper is invented, coal industry will be phased out naturally

Re:Replaced by what? (1)

ficuscr (1585141) | about 5 months ago | (#46466173)

I assumed this was tied to low natural gas costs in the US...Buy out coal power plants, convert them to natural gas, frac, frac, frac, profit.

Re:Replaced by what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466215)

The cost of everything we buy, everything we use, comes down to labor and energy costs.

I'm more worried about the price than the cost. Oil prices are vastly different than oil costs for most oil producers. We need to worry, then, only of beating oil prices and enough so over a long period that people can and will transition away from ICEs and the like to another energy source.

PS - Let's not forget just how much profit markup goes into the "cost" of things, especially when it comes to organizations that will do just about anything to show consistent profit increases. That alone can make a mess of trying to do any sort of apples to apples comparison across industries or of material usage between industries. It makes the whole "labor and energy costs" argument seem very hollow when in plenty of industries the profit margin has been the biggest factor in cost for ages. I mean, look no further than manufacturing to consider that where the labor pool per part produced keeps shrinking.

umm no (1)

luther349 (645380) | about 5 months ago | (#46465833)

another 85,000 out of work and retraining does not mean shit when they have no paycheck anymore and no new jobs to replace what was lost.

Re:umm no (2)

jandrese (485) | about 5 months ago | (#46466181)

Especially when you live in an area where everybody just lost their job. Southern West Virginia is depressed enough already without all of the coal mines shutting down at basically the same time.

That's nice, however: (3, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | about 5 months ago | (#46465835)

The U.S. is just one country. Many other countries (China, for instance) are still using coal, and I think will more or less say the same thing: That's nice. We'll keep using coal. Want to be real heroes of the environment? Raise enough money to buy out the coal industry all over the world.

Why not massively subsidize the Solar Industry? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465843)

Cost of solar panels are below $1 a Watt making them an ideal replacement of Coal.

Think of how many panels could be purchased with this money.

The coal industry would shrink to almost nothing.

Re:Why not massively subsidize the Solar Industry? (3, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 5 months ago | (#46466077)

Panels, panels are useless. Batteries and power storage is the question. Not very many is the answer.

Fixed cost to replace recurring expense? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46465849)

To me $50 billion does not seem a reasonable figure, when you factor in something else has to be built to provide the energy the plants are currently reliably producing.

That something would take a long time to build, if in fact it could be built at all (as many locations now want nothing to do with new power plants). Any viable replacement would not meet any definition they had of being "green", unless they are OK with nuclear power which seems unlikely (and again, how many replacement nuclear plants will be built for just $50 billion)?

Clueless people (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 5 months ago | (#46465865)

What happens to all the people who live and work in mining towns? Murder the coal mines and what have you done to all the families and small businesses that, directly and indirectly, depend on them? This is a headline straight out of Atlas Shrugged... has the whole world gone bonkers?

umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465867)

Let me know when solar power or wind power can heat the homes of the elderly and the single mom trying ot make ends meet in the midwest.

Re:umm (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 5 months ago | (#46466167)

Isn't there a city in your "midwest" (which is actually pretty far east, no?) that's called the windy city? Seems like wind power might be a reasonable thing in that region.

You know you can use electricity to produce heat, right?

Better uses for $50 billion (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 5 months ago | (#46465883)

You have $50 billion to spend on green energy. Make your choice:
1) Give the $50 billion to coal executives and shareholders who will then use that money to create new coal companies and open new mines, since you have done nothing to eliminate with the demand.
2) Build $50 billion worth of green energy to put the coal companies out of business for good.

The entire article is illogical. You can't just eliminate the laws of supply and demand.

Re:Better uses for $50 billion (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 months ago | (#46465953)

All true. These kinds of people simply don't care. They will actively chase off anyone that stands as a voice of reason. They will just accuse you of being an industry shill.

They don't want reality getting in the way of their politics.

Same goes for the EPA BTW.

Re:Better uses for $50 billion (4, Insightful)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 5 months ago | (#46466183)

I would assume that this idea falls under the category of 'thought experiment'. The point being to highlight that the coal industry accounts for 'only' 50 billion dollars worth of assets, which is a smaller portion of our economy and total assets than the hysteria of 'anything you do to attempt to phase out coal will destroy America' would suggest.

Now if the country could shift to renewables for a mere 50 billion it might well be worth it. Of course, as others have pointed out, buying up all the coal plants won't accomplish that.

What to replace coal with? (3, Informative)

SYSS Mouse (694626) | about 5 months ago | (#46465901)

I assume the proposal just assume coal industry to produce electricity, but there is more than that, The iron industry and steelmaking industry also uses coal.

Economically Feasible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465905)

As we all know, when you try to buy up all of something, the price doesn't change and it all goes away.

What about buying out the Chinese polluters? (4, Insightful)

PseudoCoder (1642383) | about 5 months ago | (#46465911)

Because they make US look like amateurs.

I'm in. (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 5 months ago | (#46465921)

Where's the damn kickstarter?

Supply and demand. (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#46465923)

As the supply of cheap power is decreased the value of the remaining generation will increase. The value of a power plant if the present value of future profits. Remove coal from the supply and power prices go up. That makes the remaining coal plants worth much more.

25 billion might get you the first half. 50 billion will never get it all.

The coal would still be there (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 months ago | (#46465925)

It's a valuable energy source. What's to stop anyone (eve the current coal company people from founding a "competing" "coal" company that actually digs coal and sells it?

Where does the rest come from? (4, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 5 months ago | (#46465935)

According to the US Energy Administration...

  In 2012, the United States generated about 4,054 billion kilowatthours of electricity. About 68% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuel (coal, natural gas, and petroleum), with 37% attributed from coal.

Energy sources and percent share of total electricity generation in 2012 were:

        Coal 37%
        Natural Gas 30%
        Nuclear 19%
        Hydropower 7%
        Other Renewable 5%
                Biomass 1.42%
                Geothermal 0.41%
                Solar 0.11%
                Wind 3.46%
        Petroleum 1%
        Other Gases 1%

Insurers, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46465939)

I'd imagine insurance agencies would be interested in investing in this, since their bottom line is directly linked to the payouts caused by weather events that will become more frequent as climate changes. They also have access to plenty of money, and (being full of actuaries) are able to see beyond politics and act in their objective best interest, as defined by risk-benefit and ROI calculations.

$50 billion seems quite cheap (1)

Zocalo (252965) | about 5 months ago | (#46465949)

Ahh, yes! That low, low, price doesn't include the price of building renewable-power plants to replace those coal fired ones that are to be shutdown, nor does it even include any budget for sending out lots of blankets to prevent millions from freezing to death during the next cold spell. Nope, that part is entirely left down to others, and specifically to the government and thus taxpayers money. So, yeah, $50b to buy and shutdown the plants, and then what, maybe $500b of pork on a good day to replace them with renewables? Sure, sounds like a good deal to me...

I think I'll just chalk this up as another ill thought out scheme that'll never work.

The law of Unintended consequences (1)

slapout (93640) | about 5 months ago | (#46465951)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_consequences

How is such an unfeasible proposition news? (1)

urbanriot (924981) | about 5 months ago | (#46465969)

"When I grow up, I want to cure world hunger!" The coal will still exist, people will still find coal, people will still want coal, etc., etc.

Not nearly enough money (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#46466007)

In addition you have to replace a whole bunch of brand new highly efficient and scrubbed power stations, and totally shut down steel production.
Metallurgic coal (coke) is essential for steel production. That pushes steel production to other countries, causing a world wide shortage, and we end up paying more and they end up polluting more.

Coal gasification [energy.gov] projects, current and planned, would all be wiped out exactly when they are needed.

You can't simply look at the market cap of coal industry companies on Yahoo and sum them all up.
Like most plans, this is a simplistic and simple minded approach. It would never work

Also unworkable (1)

rk (6314) | about 5 months ago | (#46466009)

Because if this ever started to get traction, the price of those coal mining companies would start to go up, just like virtually every other company that gets targeted by a hostile takeover. Even if they get enough to cover that, the boards of these companies could conceivably use a poison pill and issue discount options to everyone else to dilute the bidder's interest.

That old joke ... (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 months ago | (#46466011)

You know that old joke ... Will the last one out turn off the lights.

How do these bozos plan to power the lives 300+ million Americans who like to read at night, watch TV and have electric appliances do their laundry and wash their dishes.

And don't just say, "solar" or "wind" without including the cost (in $Gazillions) and time (in decades) to build out an entirely new infrastructure while inventing some way to store power for calm nights.

Nuclear? Great. Better start changing regulations and lining up money. Lots and lots of money.

What about the other 6/7ths? (-1, Flamebait)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 5 months ago | (#46466027)

The US uses about 1/7 of the world's production of coal. http://www.worldcoal.org/resou... [worldcoal.org] What about the 6/7th of the world production with China burning more than 3 times the US?

Thanks but I'll pass on destroying the US economy so environmentalist wackos can get over their self-loathing and white guilt...

As if that wouldn't just make Coal MORE valuable (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | about 5 months ago | (#46466031)

Which would encourage us to find NEW coal supplies anywhere.

That is undervalued (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466053)

I bet China would pay many more times than $50 billion, to acquire the tens of billions of tons of coal reserves in the United States. Coal is still not priced as much as it could be worth. I don't think super billionares would be able to afford it, and stop the masses when coal becomes expensive....

Just tax coal, its much simpler. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466069)

The goal, to lower coal usage is reasonable. Why not just increase the tax on coal? As soon as you start buying companies and land to "stop" coal production you massivly increase the value of the remaining companies and land that can produce coal. So you will just shift production from current land, to other land that is probably less efficient for coal production. Where as a tax on the product will lower the value of coal producion

Then the country falls apart. (1)

harl (84412) | about 5 months ago | (#46466073)

Then the country falls apart because so much electricity comes from coal. Without a replacement it there would be vast blackout crippling large portions of the country. Let's get on it!

Kickstarer FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466099)

This would be perfect for kickstarter really...

Hey where's our hero and hearthrob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466135)

Elon Musk on this list? Oh wait, he relies on coal to charge up his Teslas... Ummm, oops. What's that sound? It's the collective popping sound as thousands of geeks take Musk's cock out of their mouths....

The future (1, Funny)

slapout (93640) | about 5 months ago | (#46466137)

Felix: Gil I'm afraid I've fallen and injured myself. Can you call 911?

Gil: Of course. I'll just use my cell phone. Oh, wait. That's right. Without coal, the cell towers don't have power.

Felix: We'll take my Telsa then. Can you drive it?

Gil: Of course. Oh dear. The batteries are dead. And without coal there's no power to charge it.

Felix: Hmmm...I'm not feeling well. Can we try your solar powered car?

Gil: Sorry, too cloudy, it won't even start.

Felix: Smoke signals?

Gil: I'll just carry you to the hospital.

Felix: I guess that will have to do.

Gil: Of course, once we get there the hospital won't have power because there's no coal.

Felix: I'm beginning to re-think my life choices...

Re:The future (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46466279)

Not nearly as nightmarish as a WORLD WITHOUT ZINC.

50 billion (3, Funny)

thoth (7907) | about 5 months ago | (#46466139)

They should try Kickstarter!

Get real (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466199)

What are you going to do with the ~37% loss in energy production?

This would take decades to phase out and far more than 50 billion dollars.

Click bait

I believe China and Russia have more coal than us (1)

CQDX (2720013) | about 5 months ago | (#46466217)

And there is no way they are going to shutdown their production and usage of coal. This plan would essentially put them in the driver's seat of the world economy.

And what of the miners? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466229)

So. They'll use that money to nail the coffin shut on any mining community. Not that it isn't bad there already. What difference will one more unemployed Oxy-addicted miner make in towns already filled with them?

No worry for them. Obamacare will take care of it. Let's assume they had the money and *right now* they could just do it. In theory the clear air helps us, but that's literally a diffuse effect that's hard to measure. The local economic impacts are much more tangible.

Unless their plan also involves a way to shore up the individual lives and tax bases of the communities, it's really just carpet-bagging. I mean, wow, the land-spec alone is something to consider:

1. Depress community.
2. Scoop up land at bargain-basement prices
3. Develop "eco tourism", replace union mining jobs with minumum-wage service jobs.
4. Profit!

Uhm....yeah.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466255)

Let's solve the acid rain problem by shutting down the worlds cleanest coal plants.

Reality check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46466263)

I think the coal industry buying out the environmentalist industry would seem to be more realistic. Plus, what they propose isn't realistic anyway, seems more like childish playground behavior. A more reasonable solution is the give the coal industry, and similar ones, the proper technology (robotics, instrumentation, SI units, etc) so they can buy these technologies cheap and make a profit in their business model (or similar) while still being more "evironmentally-friendly." Coal provides several uses so much that it won't be weeded out anytime soon.

1st medicare for all so we don't have to deal with (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#46466273)

Finding jobs with Health Care for the workers who may be out of work / in retraining / working at mcd's that does not really offer it.

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