AOL Energy: Energy Issues Deserve Greater Campaign Prominence
I was fortunate to be extensively quoted in an AOL Energy article that was published this morning. The author, Phil Zahodiakin, gave an excellent review of how energy issues should be playing a larger role in this election season. He also provided input from a wide variety of energy industry experts.
Zahodiakin also provided a good deal of information on how the fossil fuel industry has been treated by the current administration. He explained how the imposition of a broad swath of extensive and expensive new regulations has cost many jobs and has been a key fact0r in the closure of mines and coal-fueled power generation.
Here is the section of the article where I was quoted.
The swing states are Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Some of those states produce energy, but even those that don’t offer fertile ground for energy production advocacy, says Jason Hayes, communications director for the American Coal Council.
“There may not be any mining in Florida,” Hayes told AOL Energy, “but they use coal to produce electricity, and if coal becomes more difficult to use and electricity becomes more expensive, voters living on fixed incomes – especially senior citizens – become more politically motivated.”
Hayes acknowledges that EPA‘s pending greenhouse gas regulations and Utility MACT rule are just two of the many factors affecting the U.S. coal industry. But “the additional burdens of environmental regulations are bringing us to a tipping point,” he says, warning that a tidal wave of shutdowns is inevitable.
“Middle-of-the road studies,” Hayes continued, “are predicting that 34-to-40 gigawatts of coalfield energy could close over the next decade, but some are predicting as much as 80 gigawatts.”
Higher Energy Costs, Energy Security and Job Losses at Stake
According to a NERA analysis, Hayes pointed out, “the shutdowns would result in 1.4 million job losses. Some of those would occur in associated industries, like Class I railroads, which earn 25% of their revenue from shipping coal. But there will also be enormous job losses among coal industry employees, who earn an average of $70,000-to-$75,000 a year. Those are extremely well-paying careers and they are already being lost.”
Hayes points out that the Obama administration has supported clean coal research at DOE, but adds, “It’s unfortunate that the two agencies are operating at cross-purposes. DOE is doing the research, but EPA’s [greenhouse gas] regulations will ensure that, without carbon capture technologies, there won’t be any coal plants built in this country for the foreseeable future.”
Hayes says swing-state voters should be informed that the loss of coal-fired plants could raise their electricity costs. But energy issues appear to have traction all across the country, as a Harris Interactive poll recently determined.
Be sure to head over to AOL Energy to read the rest of the article.