Expand Coal Production
To Extend Gas Supplies 


Jack Gerard

    Coal, America's most secure and abundant fuel, can generate more electric power for consumers and manufacturers, and lessen the current cost burden of using natural gas, said the National Mining Association (NMA). 
    NMA recommended five policy options for enhancing coal production and fuel diversity to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is holding a conference on the natural gas crisis this afternoon. Coal currently generates 51.8 percent of the nation's electric power. 
    "The prospect of continuing shortages of natural gas demands that we take steps now to encourage further use of the country's 250-year supply of coal," said NMA president and CEO, Jack Gerard. "Impressive emissions reductions from coal-fired electricity, together with the security offered by our vast domestic supplies, makes coal a vital component of any strategy for reducing natural gas impacts to manufacturers and consumers." 
    Gerard said Congress can begin to take steps today that will reassure consumers of further emissions reductions from coal-fired power plants, stimulate investment in advanced clean coal technologies, and streamline the permitting process for new coal production and power plant construction. 
    A robust federal clean coal technology partnership with the private sector, and accelerated depreciation and investment tax credits would be powerful inducements to expand coal use for electricity generation, he said. Gerard also urged swift passage of a multi-emissions control bill as another sure way of guaranteeing both continued environmental improvement and timely construction of new generating capacity. 
    "With coal demand hitting an historic high last year and poised to set new records this year, the market is clearly signaling it wants coal to continue to be the fundamental provider of affordable and reliable electricity," added Gerard. "Policymakers should heed this signal and respond accordingly to avoid further disruptions in natural gas supply." c


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