The editorial titled No Such Thing as Clean Coal (Oct. 13) paints a doomsday outlook for coal as an energy source and for human health.
However, technology has significantly reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants – up to 90 percent in the past few decades. Other technologies can further reductions – if they were allowed to be implemented.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan sets carbon-dioxide reduction levels for new power plants at unattainable levels. These regulations will have little if any effect on global temperatures or sea levels because developing nations continue to use vast amounts of coal.
Yet these regulations – if federal court fails to step in – will cease further development of coal technologies. Meaning there will be no new coal-fueled power plants built in the United States, and advancements in cleaner-coal technologies will become part of the past, not our future.
The editorial is also off base when it comes to recovery and low cost natural gas as the reason for the significant decrease in coal production. While that is true for select parts of the country, including the Baltimore area where this editorial first appeared, states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia sit atop huge natural-gas reserves that have recently become productive due to hydraulic fracturing.
But what may be good for Baltimore is not so good for Evansville. Indiana doesn’t have the same shale units that exist in select other states, and the shale units we do have don’t produce high natural gas output.
Indiana produces very little in the way of natural gas, and the phrase “cheap natural gas” is the real oxymoron for Indiana. Natural gas costs 57 percent more today than it did six months ago. Utilities are announcing that ratepayers should expect higher bills this winter due to increased natural gas costs. This should give us all a reality check on the historic volatility of natural gas.
Yet coal remains at a steady price, and provides about 80 percent of Indiana’s electric generation because it’s affordable, reliable, and abundant – and right within our own borders.
Switching to out-of-state natural gas will increase electric bills, eliminate Hoosier jobs, reduce contributions to the Hoosier tax base, and send our hard-earned money to those states with large natural gas reserves.
The EPA prefers we sacrifice our own communities to lead the rest of the world in carbon-dioxide reduction. A better approach would be to put faith in scientists and engineers at our leading institutions, and continue to develop cleaner, emission-reducing technologies that benefit our nation and our Hoosier communities – rather than pinning our hopes on leaders halfway around the globe.
Bruce Stevens is President of the Indiana Coal Council.
See the article here.
- On October 14, 2016