Obama's own goal

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Peabody's Wambo North Underground in Australia

Noel Dyson

Actually, it could go further than that because if some of the pundits are right, the US could soon have no coal industry.

But what Obama started could have even more dire consequences for the Australian coal market.

It is more to do with the part of the president’s plan looking at the effects of coal beyond US shores.

Historically, US-mined coal has been mainly for domestic use.

As the shale gale and EPA-driven pushes against coal-fired power generation have mounted over the past two or so years, the industry has turned increasingly to exports.

Obama is going after those, too.

There have already been rumblings that proposals to build coal export terminals on the US Pacific North West coast be stopped because of the carbon emissions created by the coal they export.

In his speech, Obama did not touch on that.

He did, however, call for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas “unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity.

“And I urge other countries to join this effort.”

This is what Australia’s coal industry should fear.

I can almost sense Greens Leader Christine Milne champing at the bit to push through legislation that puts a stop to Australian coal exports.

Too much of a stretch? Not really.

Should Labor limp back in with a minority and need the Greens again, it is the sort of road Milne may just try to head down.

This at a time when there have been announcements of nearly 500 job losses at Australian coal mines in the past two days.

That sort of scenario would not bode well for the future of the industry.

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