Let’s lay out the facts about coal

On Capitol Hill recently, I was asked: If coal is so controversial, why don’t we, as a nation, just use more electricity?

[cleeng_content id="357468019" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]I’m not usually at a loss for words, but I didn’t know how to respond to such an uninformed question. What I should have said is this: When you surf the Internet, watch TV, play a video game, turn on the AC or charge a cell phone or your hybrid car, you’re using electricity. And there’s a good chance that electricity came from coal.

That question convinced me it was time to lay out the facts about coal, because in the weeks and months ahead – maybe even for years to come – we are going to be debating President Obama’s latest global climate proposal.

And it’s crucial that this debate be based on crystal clear facts and not clouded by political ideologies on either side of the aisle.6a010535dbf8af970c0128776181a9970c

So, starting last week, I began a series of speeches on energy. And I started with a look at the history of coal – how it fueled the Industrial Revolution and made America what it is today: the richest and most powerful nation in human history.

I think it’s important for me to explain the facts about coal for several reasons.

The coal industry and its supporters have been falsely portrayed by their detractors as monsters that value money over health and the environment.

And as the question about using electricity instead of coal illustrates, the American public has some basic misconceptions about coal and just how important it is to keeping our economy growing and our nation secure.

But the foremost reason for my speech last week was the fact the Obama Administration’s global climate plan is rooted in provisions aimed at regulating the coal industry out of existence.

The Administration’s plan is short-sighted, ignoring the fact that coal is America’s most abundant, most reliable and most affordable source of energy, and it will be for decades to come.

Coal is responsible for 37.4 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States today, more than any other source of energy. And the Department of Energy projects it will remain the dominant fuel for electricity generation in our country at least through 2040.

Despite the Administration’s attempt to kill it, coal is critical to meeting the future energy needs of America. In other words, we can’t make it without coal.

And yet, the Administration is pushing ahead with its global climate plan, which is a true declaration of war on coal, with the Environmental Protection Agency at the vanguard of that war.

I voted against Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s nominee to be Administrator of the EPA.

But my fight is not with Ms. McCarthy. My fight is with the EPA and the President who nominated her to head the regulatory agency that has already done so much to kill the jobs that coal mining families depend on.

That fight will continue until the EPA stops its regulatory rampage and until the President comes up with feasible policies that achieve real energy independence for America.

Every President for the last 40 years has talked about how to end our country’s addition to foreign oil in order to achieve energy independence.

Today, we have it within our means, if we pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes all of our American-made energy resources, including coal.

If we stop demonizing one energy source and start using all our resources, we can – oncee and for all – end our dependence on foreign oil within this generation and keep our country more secure and our economy producing jobs for generations to come.

— Joe Manchin is a U.S. senator

from West Virginia

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