Do We Need Coal?

In the 1950s newspapers were brimming with stories on “Black Lung” or Coalworker’s pneumoconiosis, a chronic lung condition that ranged from a minor cough to bronchitis and in rare cases death. The condition was caused by long-term exposure to coal dust, particularly in coal mines of the last two centuries.

We’ve made great strides in mine safety since the risks of coal dust was first exposed, but persistent pollution-related regulations have taken a dramatic toll on coal-fired plants that produce energy in the U.S.

The spearhead of the war on coal is the president himself who argued in favor of clean coal technology during the 2008 election while his vice presidential candidate was decrying that America won’t support coal power.

clean coal processing

“No coal plants here in America,” Biden said in 2008. “Build them, if they’re going to build them, over there. Make them clean.”

The “over there” Biden was referring to was China where they’ve been building coal-powered electric plants at the rate of two per week for years.

“We’re not supporting clean coal,” Biden said of himself and Obama.

Even then Biden’s words offered insight into the truth hidden behind the president’s campaign speeches.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration just reported a plunge in coal consumption in the first quarter of 2012. The regulatory burden the Obama Administration has placed on coal-fired power plants has resulted in an 8 percent drop in power generated by coal in just the past year.

As Coal-use Fades Electricity Prices Explode

As power generation from coal plummets due to the president’s regulations, economically viable sources are placed under greater demand and prices soar, eerily coinciding with Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”

The latest market prices for new 2015 capacity, which due to the latest regulations will come almost entirely from natural gas, is $136 per megawatt: eight times higher than the price for 2012 at just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the cost may be as high as $167 per megawatt. While these numbers might cause you to gasp for breath, in areas that generate the majority of their power from coal, such as in northern Ohio, power production for 2015 will run as high as $357 per megawatt.

Andy Ott from PJM stated that, “Capacity prices were higher than last year’s because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015.”

The 2015 numbers aren’t speculation; these prices are actual commitments made by electricity distributors at auction that will be passed on to the consumers.

Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) the House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman responded, “The PJM auction forecasts a dim future where Americans will be paying more to keep the lights on. We are seeing more and more coal plants fall victim to EPA’s destructive regulatory agenda, and as a result, we are seeing more job losses and higher electricity prices.”

What will happen to Obama’s electric car vision when an overnight recharge costs $200?

If we continue this trend towards forcing costly and unproven energy upon consumers the price at the pump will begin to look like a bargain. This war on coal must be stopped until economically viable alternatives are available.

There remains one last opportunity to maintain our grasp on sanity before the coal industry collapses and hundreds of thousands are sent to the unemployment lines: in the next few weeks the most far-reaching anti-coal regulation ever will come before the Senate, known as the Utility MACT rule, which even the EPA admits is its most expensive rule ever. If we cannot stop the Liberals from enacting this legislation many will be unable to heat their homes in the winter or cool them in the summer.

You can support clean coal technology, Mr. President, but if there are no coal plants left, what’s the point?

Perhaps that was the point all along.