Another Climate Alarmist Buys Another Coal Company

Coal harvested from a strip mine sits behind a pair of coupled coal cars on the grounds of Blackhawk Mining, LLC Spurlock Prep Plant on June 3, 2014 in Printer, Kentucky. New regulations on carbon emissions proposed by the Obama administration have reportedly angered politicians on both sides of the …
Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

It’s a good thing I finally went public last week with my long-held view that Democrat investors were going to snap up coal companies driven to bankruptcy by Obama’s war on coal.

The day after I made my prediction, news came that leftist billionaire George Soros had purchased shares of the two largest U.S. coal companies, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. Now comes news that bankrupt Patriot Coal is being purchased in a $400 million deal led by Tom Clarke, a prominent Virginia-based environmentalist.

But Clarke’s purchase of Patriot brings a new — and likely fraudulent — twist to what I called “Obama’s Great Coal Train Robbery.”

My original article forecast that the new kings of coal would have try to rehabilitate coal so they could profit from it with a straight face after having for years bashed the essential commodity as a people- and planet-murderer.

So Clarke plans to do this — no kidding — by planting trees. Clarke will sell his coal at a 10 percent premium. And why would any cash-strapped utility pay 10 percent more for Clarke’s coal? The coal will come with a carbon credit certificate (also called a “carbon offset”) worth 30 percent of the coal’s emissions.

This 30 percent figure, conveniently, is about how much carbon dioxide the average utility has to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions under Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

What a scam.

First the average pine tree growing for 10 years will “sequester” only about 23 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to EPA. Clarke will have to plant not thousands of trees, but some 4.3 million trees (and keep them alive and thriving) to sequester all the carbon dioxide emitted as Patriot’s 100 million ton coal reserve is burned.

Next, it is not at all clear that planting trees will reduce any global warming that may be occurring. Past the dubious notion that carbon dioxide is a major problem for the climate, some studies say that planting trees actually increases warming by darkening the Earth’s surface and reducing the amount of solar radiation reflected back to space.

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that trees actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on net balance, there are lots of tree planting scams and deceptions.

Finally, the carbon offset business is known to be ripe with fraud. Congress, the General Accounting Office and the Federal Trade Commission have all expressed concern about the unregulated carbon offset racket.

Even the Pope slammed carbon offsets in his recent climate encyclical: “The strategy of buying and selling ‘carbon credits’ can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

Clarke claims he’s not in it for money, but for the Earth, according to the Roanoke Times. As environmentalists typically view coal mine as a ravaging of the Earth, it’s hard to square his claim with anything approaching candor.

Steve Milloy publishes (@JunkScience) and is a former coal company executive.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.