Last night, at the San Francisco home of hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, President Obama tried to explain to the room full of wealthy Californians why creating new energy regulations was so difficult:
If you haven’t seen a raise in a decade; if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater; if you’re just happy that you’ve still got that factor job that is powered by cheap energy; if every time you go to fill up your old car because you can’t afford to buy a new one, and you certainly can’t afford to buy a Prius, you’re spending 40 bucks that you don’t have, which means that you may not be able to save for retirement — you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your number-one concern.
But wealthy coastal elites have no idea what Obama is talking about. Tickets to Steyer’s mansion cost $35,400. So the concept of higher energy costs making it harder to pay off $25,000 on an underwater mortgage has no meaning for these people. Dropping $30,000 on a Prius as a second or third car is no problem. The rich, landed elite on our nation’s coasts don’t simply don’t care how their preferred environmental policies effect inland middle-class Americans. Hence this story from McClatchy Newspapers today:
Growing environmental objections to exporting coal from Washington state and Oregon have begun to endanger the coal industry’s hope to restore its flagging fortunes by shipping much more of the embattled fossil fuel to China and India.
Port officials this week dropped plans for a terminal in Coos Bay, Ore., just days after the governors of Oregon and Washington urged the White House to scrutinize the global impact of greenhouse gas emissions in Asia before approving exports from Northwest ports.
The Coos Bay cancellation follows last year’s abandonment of a proposed coal storage and export facility in Grays Harbor, Wash. And the Sierra Club announced plans this week to sue over alleged water contamination from trains spilling coal dust and fragments. That could further complicate matters for advocates of shipping coal by rail to U.S. Northwest ports for export to the Far East.
The coal mining industry has shed more than 5,000 jobs during Obama’s presidency. The fossil fuel electric power generation has shed another 39,000 jobs. If Obama and Steyer get their way, another 84,000 coal miners will lose their jobs as will another 99,000 fossil fuel power plant workers.
But Steyer will still have his beautiful view of the Golden Gate bridge from his multi-million-dollar mansion. So it will even out in the end.