The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 27, 2013

In facing climate change, U.S. can’t ignore worldwide significance of coal

Barack Obama has said many times during his presidency that he and his adminstration are not waging a “war on coal.”

Following his address on climate change Tuesday at Georgetown University, those words ring even more hollow.

“Everybody is waiting for action,” Daniel P. Schrag, a White House climate adviser and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, told The New York Times prior to Obama’s address. “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

No, a campaign against coal — or any form of energy — is certainly not what the United States needs as the slow recovery from the Great Recession continues amid what should be a sensible approach to deal with climate change.

What’s needed is a commitment to coal — doing all possible to use the abundant natural resource that has no replacement available on the horizon in a realistic and environmentally responsible manner.

Instead, Obama’s plan focuses on new limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. The administration, The Associated Press reported, had already proposed rules for new coal-fired plants, but they have been delayed amid industry concerns about the cost. A presidential memorandum Obama issued Tuesday directs the EPA to revise and reissue the new plant rules by September, then finalize them “in a timely fashion.”

It’s impossible for there to be even a suitable style of living in the United States — let alone significant economic progress — without affordable energy.

“The regulations the president wants to force on coal are not feasible. And if it’s not feasible, it’s not reasonable,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said. “It’s clear now that the president has declared a war on coal. It’s simply unacceptable that one of the key elements of his climate change proposal places regulations on coal that are completely impossible to meet with existing technology.

“The fact is clear: Our own Energy Department reports that our country will get 37 percent of our energy from coal until 2040. Removing coal from our energy mix will have disastrous consequences for our recovering economy. These policies punish American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with our global competitors. And those competitors burn seven-eighths of the world’s coal, and they’re not going to stop using coal any time soon.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said that he has “long believed the science is real and we need to address climate change” but that efforts in Congress have “been stuck in deep partisan gridlock.”

He stressed that “any roadmap to deal with our future energy needs must include the promise of clean coal. Our demand for energy can’t be met without it.”

Rep. David McKinley said Obama’s “new strategy is to go around Congress and impose his agenda by using unelected bureaucrats at the EPA to make decisions that will have a disastrous effect on the economy of West Virginia and America as a whole.”

“The regulations the president is proposing would cause thousands of Americans to lose their jobs and raise electricity costs by steering our economy from low-cost energy to more expensive sources,” the West Virginia Republican said. “Based on unproven models and theories about what will happen in the future, the president is taking actions that will have real, immediate, negative impacts on our economy today.”

If America wants to be a world leader when it comes to climate change, it will do so by continuing to develop ways to efficiently use coal — not ignoring the value of the resource.

USA Today reported Wednesday, the day after Obama’s address, that U.S. coal exports set a monthly record in March, driven largely by rising demand from its top customer, China, and other Asian countries, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration. While domestic consumption has had recent dips, exports have steadily climbed — from 39.6 million short tons in 2002 to a record 125.7 million short tons last year.

“Many coal producers are looking offshore as a way to offset softer markets in the United States,” says Luke Popovich, spokesman of the National Mining Association. He says U.S. demand for coal has dipped because of relatively low natural gas prices and electric use, but he expects it will rise again.

Popovich says Obama’s new proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants will do little to help the climate, because increasing amounts of coal are being burned worldwide. He added that coal demand is rising even in developed countries such as Germany and Japan that are cutting back on nuclear power.

Manchin has called for an “all-in” approach he illustrated last year when he was accompanied by fellow senators — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Oregon’s Ron Wyden — on a two-day tour that highlighted West Virginia’s energy resources: coal, wind, hydroelectric and Marcellus shale gas.

“It is only common sense to use all our domestic resources, and that includes our coal,” Manchin said. “Let’s make sure that government works as our partner, not our adversary, to create a secure and affordable energy future, and let’s invest in technology which will have the ability to burn coal with almost zero emissions.”

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?

    I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
    “Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
    I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.

    July 13, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads