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The Stop the War on Coal Act Deserves Our Support

By    |   Thursday, 27 September 2012 07:55 AM

The House recently passed H.R. 3409, also known as the Stop the War on Coal Act, by a 233-175 vote. Although President Barack Obama will certainly veto it, at least 19 Democrats did vote for it. In today’s political climate, this is as bipartisan as it gets.

Even several Democrats recognize that waging war on coal is disastrous for this country. Coal is an extremely important energy source and will remain so for decades to come. Some 23 percent of our primary energy needs are met by coal, and 49 percent of our electricity is generated from coal.

About 70 percent of the world’s steel production depends on coal. Coal is the world's most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel source. The International Energy Agency expects a 43 percent increase in its use from 2000 to 2020.

According to the National Mining Association, U.S. mining in 2010 directly and indirectly generated more than 1.98 million U.S. jobs, $119 billion in U.S. labor income, $225 billion in contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product and nearly $50 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

The Stop the War on Coal Act is a combination of five bills that is designed to send a strong message that by attacking coal, we do so at our own peril. At its core, the bill seeks to block the Environmental Protection Agency's out-of-control authority to pass regulations without congressional input, especially limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources.

As a result of crushing EPA regulations, coal giant Alpha Natural Resources is closing three mines in Virginia and five in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

This is an issue that I care deeply about. My roots are in West Virginia, and it saddens me to see the way that the war on coal has impacted West Virginia and nearby states. It resonates with me on a personal level, since two of my cousins were recently laid off as a result of recent mine closings.

It’s not just that the war on coal will diminish our energy capability; it’s the devastating effect that it has on American jobs. In West Virginia, the coal industry supports 63,000 jobs and produces $25.5 billion for the state’s economy, according to a recent study by the West Virginia Coal Association. As a result of the recent closing of coal mines by Alpha Natural Resources, 1,200 jobs will be eliminated by early 2013.

According to a Washington Post story: ‘”The federal Energy Information Administration projects that power companies plan to retire 175 coal-fired generators by 2016. That’s four times greater than all the retirements of coal-burning plants over the previous five years, according to the agency. And the 9 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity to go offline this year alone is the largest single-year retirement total in U.S. history, according to a report the agency released in July.”

The question is: why is the Obama administration waging a war on coal? All you hear from the White House is their embrace of green energy. I have nothing against green energy, but this technology is years away from going online. Yet, it doesn’t stop the administration from throwing billions of dollars at an energy program that won’t be profitable for years while wasting hard-earned taxpayer money.

Meanwhile a 2007 report from the Energy Information Administration said the United States had a "demonstrated reserve base" of nearly 500 billion metric tons of coal, and it regarded 267 million metric tons — enough for 240 years — of that as "economically recoverable." The United States is unquestionably the Saudi Arabia of coal.

Democrats continue to look at coal as a dirty energy source. But if they did just 15 minutes of research, they would discover that the coal industry has reinvented itself, thanks to billions of dollars of private money spent on research and development to make coal a cleaner energy source.

The coal industry, led by American entrepreneurs and inventors, is making impressive inroads in reducing harmful emissions. This includes: coal cleaning by 'washing' to reduce emissions of ash and sulfur dioxide when coal is burned; electrostatic precipitators and fabric filters can remove 99 percent of the fly ash from the flue gases; flue gas desulfurization that reduces the output of sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere by up to 97 percent; and low-NOx burners allow coal-fired plants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 40 percent.

This information is being ignored by this administration. And in return, West Virginia voters will ignore Obama in the November election, which traditionally has been a blue state. It is estimated that the coal industry would give more money to the Republican Party this year than in any election since 1990 — a good sign since Republican candidates have historically received 75 percent of oil and gas industry campaign donations.

Tell your senator and representative to support the Stop the War on Coal Act. It’s about saving jobs. It’s about having an affordable energy source so manufacturers can reduce costs. It’s about creating energy independence for the United States. It’s about our future.

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The House recently passed H.R. 3409, also known as the Stop the War on Coal Act, by a 233-175 vote. Although President Barack Obama will certainly veto it, at least 19 Democrats did vote for it. In today’s political climate, this is as bipartisan as it gets.
Thursday, 27 September 2012 07:55 AM
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