Our Energy Hysteria

President Trump issued a long-anticipated Executive Order last week titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” which undid most of the Obama energy agenda as it pertains to the regulation of coal, carbon dioxide, and methane gas.

Unfortunately, Trump tends to justify sound policies with bad reasoning—which, in this case, led him to announce, wrongly, that his executive order will ensure that “a lot of coal miners are going back to work.” The truth is, nothing will reverse the massive shutdown of high-sulfur coal plants in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, given the rise of fracking and advances in coal-mining technology. Yet the case for or against Trump’s radical shift in policy should not hinge on the fate of coal miners, for energy policy should focus on increasing output at lower cost, including the cost of pollution. If it takes fewer jobs to produce a given amount of energy, so much the better, as that labor will then be released for use in other useful human endeavors.