Coal Stocks Plummet, Environmentalist Hopes Rise Ahead of Obama’s Climate Speech

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Just as gas prices were starting to go down a little.
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President Barack Obama will deliver a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday afternoon in which he will call for new regulations aimed at restricting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, not just new ones. Previously, Obama had aimed regulations at new coal plants. Shares of U.S. coal stocks plummeted ahead of the speech, though the Washington Post suggested global market turmoil played a role.

The Obama administration has been uniquely hostile to coal and other fossil fuels, despite the fact that the rapid expansion of natural gas development through “fracking” and oil production from shale deposits has driven much of the growth that the U.S. economy has mustered during his presidency. Permits for oil and gas exploration and development on federal land have slowed; offshore oil and gas activity has been blocked, especially after the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010, even in defiance of the courts; and the Environmental Protection Agency has pushed new emissions rules despite Congress’s refusal to pass a cap-and-trade bill.

Obama has long singled out coal in particular. In January 2008, as he sought to outflank rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the left, then-Sen. Obama promised to “bankrupt” new coal plants. His administration issued heavy-handed new regulations on coal, forcing many plants out of production. And his left-wing supporters in Hollywood have cheered him on, encouraging him to bypass Congress, far from the job losses that will occur. Politicians of both parties in coal-producing state have protested, to little avail.

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