Coal – Evolving in the Energy Space

By Betsy Monseu, CEO, American Coal Council

I’ve just returned from our ACC Coal Market Strategies conference. The opportunity to engage with members and other industry leaders and experts is stimulating, and gathering together to address what lies ahead for coal is important. This gathering together is synergy in action. The whole of us is greater than the sum of the individual parts, and that synergy is never more needed than when industry conditions are the most challenging. “Coal – Evolving in the Energy Space” was the theme of our conference, and it focused us on looking forward. A conference session was included in response to the growing number of inquiries ACC is receiving from developers and others interested in coal conversion technologies — technologies focusing on limiting emissions and/or creating higher value products from coal through gasification and liquefaction and other innovative processes. ACC is considering increased focus on coal conversion through our committee structure, so please contact Jason Hayes or me if you’re interested or know someone who may be interested.

As we look forward, changes occurring in the regulatory realm and the reality of what they may entail are front and center for coal. Just the week before our conference, EPA announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan, its regulatory mandate for GHG and carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. A cursory review of the rule raised concerns that it would be worse for coal than the rule EPA proposed in June 2014. Experts speaking at our conference confirmed that. They also discussed likely legal challenges to the rule and the developing positions of states that are now evaluating whether, and how, to comply.

EPA’s final Clean Power Plan regulation will inflict enormous costs and achieve near-zero climate benefits. For this, our government would sacrifice our economy and burden some of our most impoverished citizens with having to choose between using electricity, putting food on the table, or having medicine? Although almost unfathomable, it is true.