Democratic Senators Plead with President to Reassess EPA GHG Regulations

Editor’s note: This article was originally published to the ACC’s online magazine website ( in May, 2014. It has been moved to the Coalblog as part of our redesign of our online publications.

Letter details imminent impact on research and technology development

Jason Hayes, American Coal Council

To steal a partially-edited line from Vice President Biden, “This is a big freaking* deal.” (*This is a family-friendly blog.)

Of course you’re going to ask what’s a “big deal?”

Well, seven Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Obama on May 21 pleading with him to rethink his administration’s regulatory attacks on the coal industry. These seven senators broke through party lines to express their “deep concerns” over the EPA’s CO2 regulations and to politely confront the president with some basic facts about coal. In their letter, they described the value of coal to our country and economy.

Coal is currently responsible for 313,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity in the United States and is mined in 25 states, providing more than 760,000 well-paying jobs, and according to projections for the Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal will still represent at least 32 percent of electric generation in 2040. Coal will therefore continue to play a critical role in every part of the country by delivering reliable, affordable electricity to families and businesses.

Their letter reassured the president that they all recognize the value of a commitment to “improving air quality,” but then went on to describe how the president’s current and proposed regulatory scheme will have a perverse disincentive on research and development of new clean coal technologies –

quite the opposite of its stated goals. As they quite rightly noted, the EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rule will “inhibit the construction of new, cleaner-burning coal plants and stall research into CCS technologies.”

They also discussed how American utilities have already reduced CO2 emissions from coal-fueled generation plants by 23 percent from 2005 levels and are expected to reduce those emissions by 15 percent more over the next six years. They note how new (tested and commercially available) technologies, such as ultra-supercritical, are “highly-efficient” and could reduce emissions even further. However, this administration’s proposed GHG rule will put a stop to the use and development of these new technologies as it stops research and innovation.

The seven Senators closed out their letter by urging the president to “evaluate more appropriate ways to regulate emissions in order to truly support the development of CCS and other clean coal technologies.”

Interestingly, they even point out the flawed notion that those who attack coal are looking to the future and sustainability, as they urge the administration to employ more “long-term thinking,” which would allow all U.S. citizens to have access to “affordable and reliable energy while encouraging energy solutions that lower our carbon footprint.”

These seven Democratic Senators clearly ‘get it.’ They recognize and support the fact that it is possible to have environmentally sound AND affordable energy. They further realize that affordable, reliable and secure energy is the lifeblood of the American economy and that coal is a key domestic resource for that energy.

One hopes that this administration will join the growing chorus of Democratic Senators, House Representatives and other elected officials who are stepping out to support coal as an essential American energy resource.

After all, it’s about time for this administration to join the rest of us, as we work to seriously plan for this country’s future.

Click here to read the full Donnelly – Heitkamp letter.

Jason Hayes is the associate director of the American Coal Council and editor-in-chief of American Coal magazine.

28. May 2014 by Jason Hayes
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