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Coal-dependency killed US steel plants, especially Bethlehem Steel. American steel plants were using coal smelters, and the “foreign competition” was using very clean and efficient natural gas fired plants. Japan was blamed, because US steel manufacturers were locked into old coal technology.

But to be fair to the American manufacturers, many American stakeholders and the pollution control rackets(EPA & local DEQs) made it difficult to permit a new plant and dismantle old plants.

Yes, at this point in time, natural gas would be much cheaper and cleaner than most existing alternatives, but it is difficult to gain local approval for more energy efficient plants, and they are expensive, which is a problem when shareholders have a short term outlook on profits and dividends.

(I have never met Boone Pickens, and derive no direct financial consideration for my opinion.)