Finding Common Ground for Energy, Economy and Environment in 2017

Since my predecessor as ACC President, Matt Schicke, wrote to readers in the Issue 2, 2016 of American Coal, a lot has changed for the U.S. coal industry.

Among the biggest shifts, U.S. thermal and metallurgical coal pricing have improved from early 2016 levels, and the election of President Donald Trump, a surprise to many, offered some much needed hope. Trump himself has promised to reinvigorate the industry by rolling back regulations and allowing coal miners to get back to work.

With the Trump Administration and 115th Congress beginning to make its mark in Washington, the time is now for Americans to find common ground in achieving shared policy goals for low‐cost energy, a strong economy and a clean environment.

The world has doubled its energy use in the last 25 years. We depend on energy every day to improve our lives, through alarm clocks, phones, computers, dishwashers, laundry machines, air conditioners, and much more. All of these conveniences have become an everyday part of life and require energy to function.

Coal is an integral source for bringing these items to life and an essential part of a balanced energy portfolio that helps maintain lower electricity costs for family budgets. In order to ensure electricity remains reliable an affordable for all Americans, a true “all of the above” energy strategy is needed to guide our country into the future. This strategy would recognize the benefits and limitations of each energy source, including coal, which has a track record of reliability and scalability, affordability and security of supply.

The industry, in particular, can capitalize on the change in political climate and use this opportunity to provide a fresh perspective on why coal should be a leading component of America’s energy mix moving forward. This can be accomplished by accelerating the use of clean coal technologies including high‐efficiency low emissions (HELE) coal generation and supporting development of next generation carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) technologies.

HELE generation can result in reducing the emissions of SO2, NOx, particulate matter, mercury and others, resulting in a smaller environmental footprint, and CCUS technology, once operational, can help meet long‐term global climate goals. HELE generation and CCUS technology must be utilized and advanced, and national and international sources should allow these technologies to receive public funding for further development.