Coal is once again at the forefront as a dependable and affordable source for energy. The National Coal Council’s recently completed study, “Opportunities to Expedite the Construction of New Coal-Based Power Plants,” reinforces the need for using coal to generate electricity. Coal remains the primary fuel source for electricity generation for the foreseeable future. It’s secure, affordable, and environmentally friendly.
Americans give little thought to electricity and where it comes from, when they need it, they expect it to be there. We, as an industry, must continue to remind people that coal provides over half of the United States electricity generation. We must tell about the new clean coal technologies available and about the ongoing research. The U. S. Department of Energy has invested millions of dollars in finding new technologies for using coal. Industry has provided more than two thirds of the $4.8 billion committed to the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program. The FutureGen project is only one that DOE has embarked on to combine carbon sequestration and hydrogen production to create the world’s cleanest coal-fired power plant.
Energy and environmental issue have become inextricably linked. This connection is broad and deep, and involves concerns about air quality, toxic wastes and global climate change. Industry has made enormous improvements in the environmental performance of coal-based power plants. Cost benefit and risk analyses are critical tools to be used when reviewing and developing environmental laws and regulations. Emissions from the existing fleet of coal-based power plants are lower today than they were in 1970 even as power produced from coal-based plants has increased by 173%, according to the National Coal Council study.
Coal remains the fuel of choice providing a stable and secure source of energy for this country despite the market fundamentals over the past 20 years that have lead to the construction of natural gas fired plants. Long term opportunities and challenges for coal are price stability, cost competitiveness, environmental controls, and energy security that must be recognized and understood in order to address the importance of coal to America’s economy. Let’s join together providing the information needed to education and inform the citizens of the United States. Industry leaders must join together with educators, chambers of commerce, and businesses promoting coal. We must continue to expand educational programs and opportunities for teachers, business leaders and the general public.
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