By Curt Braden
March 7, 2017 - In the past few decades, the coal industry has been under attack by those who wish to eliminate its importance in the modern global economy. Supporters of this important fuel source are often portrayed as environmentally negligent or dangerously out of touch. If all the naysayers had their way, Americans would assume today's coal miners are stuck in an era of picks and shovels and canaries.
The truth of the matter is coal is a thriving, highly skilled industry. Forty percent of the world's power is derived from this fuel source and the U.S. is second only to China in worldwide production. Coal mining productivity has radically improved through technological advancements. Today's miners must be and are well trained to use complex, state-of-the-art equipment of mining.
One of the most significant changes in the coal industry is the introduction of High Efficiency/Low Emissions (HELE) plants and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. As nations like India and China continue to rely on coal to power for their economic growth, it is more important than ever to support and fund research and development of clean coal strategies.
Despite coal's role in the global economy, the efforts by the EPA to drastically lower emissions standards threatens the future of clean coal. The proposed Clean Power Plan establishes CO2 levels well below what HELE technology can achieve. If the EPA continues on this path it will kill the coal industry and possibly stop efforts to fully develop clean coal in the United States. This ultimately will lead to unnecessary job losses.
The coal industry both directly and indirectly creates jobs for 33,000 Ohio workers alone. It provides over 69 percent of the state's electricity which benefits all private consumers and businesses. Ohio is one of the top eleven coal producing states of 25 in the nation. It is clear, the EPA Clean Power Plan has the potential to seriously damage our economy by threatening jobs and needlessly inflating energy costs for consumers.
Donald Trump did not just promise to make America great again. He made a specific pledge to revitalize the coal industry and to put miners back to work. He went so far as to call clean coal the solution to U.S. energy policy. President Trump can work to promote coal exports, creating new American jobs and providing an opportunity for developing countries to expand their economies.
Coal producing states such as Ohio helped to win the election last November. As our new president embarks on his first 100 days in office, Ohioans know they count on him to carry through on his promises to coal country.