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Simply buying all of the coal that is in the ground would be fantastically less expensive than almost any climate solution, and respect the property rights of companies and sectors that have invested for many decades in that sector. It would avoid the bounceback problems vis-à-vis carbon taxes and other demand limiting ideas (or the problems of carbon demand inelasticity), it would promise human health cobenefits that very likely exceed any climate benefits from carbon reduction, it involves far fewer parties and moving parts than other climate change solutions, it requires no new technologies in order to be rolled out, it poses no direct risk, and it can be implemented in an extremely short time frame. (Most of this would also apply to nuclear power). If climate change is truly the existential threat that we worry that it is, why have you probably never even heard of this proposal, or certainly seen it advanced seriously?

Some simple math. The US burns ~ 1 billion tons of coal per year. Retail price ~ $40 per ton. So, “we” could buy every bit of coal for $40B per year, and just not burn it. That’s chump change when our inefficient tax system alone destroys over a trillion of wealth each year. We could buy out the coal companies, if you think the coal is worth this much, for about $1 trillion total. Just compare that to what the candidates for Looter in Chief are proposing to spend as they campaign for the 2020 selection. The Mayor is proposing like $6 trillion in extra spending (how’s that for “moderate” these days?).

Buy the coal.


3 Responses to “Put Coal in Everyone’s Christmas Stocking. Seriously.”

  1. JB says:

    Makes a lot of sense. Maybe even put it in a “strategic coal reserve” 🙂

  2. JB says:

    A friend pointed out that this would increase the price of coal, thereby creating a greater incentive to find new coal deposits (or to mine known, but previously unprofitable deposits). If so then more coal would come to market (and be burned) as a result. No?

  3. Brian Smith says:

    This is a silly idea. Taking your figures for discussion, the reason that the US currently produces 1 billion tons of coal per year is that there are users who want to burn 1 billion tons per year. If well-meaning environmentalists endeavor to buy 1 billion tons, then the mines will produce 2 billion tons, and the amount burned will be affected not at all.

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