5 Critical Reasons Why We Need a Responsible Common-Sense Approach To America’s Energy Security
New policies requiring power plants to use unproven technologies are threatening America's energy security by putting a disproportionate regulatory burden on the affordable, reliable power generated from coal. The Whitfield-Manchin bill is a bi-partisan, bi-cameral measure to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adheres to the Clean Air Act's requirement that standards reflect what is achievable from adequately demonstrated and commercially available technology.
Here are a few of the reasons lawmakers need to support the Whitfield-Manchin bill to ensure the continued availability of affordable and reliable energy for American families and businesses.
- America has enough coal to last for 200 years.
Today this abundant, low-cost and reliable resource generates approximately 40 percent of the nation’s electricity-more than any other energy source. But new estimates show that because of looming regulatory restrictions, a large number of America's coal-fired plants would be forced to close over the next six years, weakening the reliability of the power grid, increasing the price of energy, and depriving consumers of enough generating capacity to supply electricity to as many as 50 million homes.
- Consumers should not be forced to pay for unproven technology.
EPA’s performance standards for new coal-fired power plants rely on "carbon capture and storage" technology that is not only unproven-but prohibitively expensive as well. One Energy Department official recently told Congress that implementing this technology could increase the wholesale price of electricity by as much as 80 percent.
- Higher energy prices hit the poor harder.
Policies that increase the price of electricity tax those who can least afford it-elderly Americans on fixed incomes and low-income families. Households with annual incomes at $50,000 or less already spend more of their budgets on energy than on food. Policies that hike the price of electricity will harm mostthose already on tight budgets.
- More expensive electricity hurts American industry.
Policies that produce higher and more volatile electricity costs harm many of America's basic industries, damaging their ability to control costs, generate profits and compete in global markets. For the U.S. steel industry, for example, a 1 cent increase in the price of electricity adds $450 million in additional expense – money that won't be used to improve operations and increase employment.
- Coal-fired power plants today are cleaner and more efficient than ever before.
The coal plants of the 21st century emit 40 percent less carbon dioxide than the average 20th century coal plant and the technology is constantly improving. Policies that shut down generating capacity and raise prices-rather than nurture the development of additional coal technologies-will only harm all of the nation's energy users, familiesand businesses alike.
Coal Provides Jobs and Affordable Electricity
In the U.S.: Coal provides 40 percent of U.S. electric power generation, providing power for more than 60 million homes and 3.4 million businesses. The U.S. uses 979.6 million short tons of coal to generate 1,850.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.
Direct and indirect employment generated by U.S. coal mining accounts for 805,680 jobs, for a combined payroll of $36.3 billion.
|Coal Production (Million Short Tons)
|Estimated Recoverable Coal Reserves (Billion Short Tons)
|Total Coal Consumption for Power Generation (Million Short Tons)
|Total Net Electricity from Coal (Billion kWh)
|Direct Coal Mining Employment
|Freight Rail Coal-Related Employment
|Electricity Cost per kWh
Plants and Capacity, 2007