The members and employees of the Ohio Coal Association were extremely disappointed to read the March 7 Dispatch editorial “No Ohio future seen for coal.” Coal has played a vital role in the growth and development of the state of Ohio, particularly in the coal-bearing counties of our state. The editorial failed to recognize the important role coal plays in the past, present and future of the state.
Before the election of President Barack Obama, coal-fired power supplied 52 percent of the electricity in the United States. After Obama, the share of coal-fired electricity dwindled to 30 percent. While some of this decline is due to cheap natural gas, the overwhelming majority of this decline was due to the failed policies of the Obama administration.
Coal is, quite frankly, the most abundant, reliable and low-cost source of electricity that the world has ever known. We should not abandon this source of electricity in favor of extremely volatile natural-gas prices or heavily subsidized windmills and solar panels. During the most recent cold snap, at least 37,000 megawatts of supposedly available natural gas-powered electricity were entirely unavailable due to the priority for home heating use and the inability of natural gas to flow at cold temperatures. Where natural gas remained available, prices peaked at more than 60 times their normal levels. Ohioans should not be subjected to these wild fluctuations in electricity pricing caused by gas, which are particularly hurtful to those who are on fixed and low incomes.
Further, it is vital to remember that new gas wells in the state last only about 10 years before they are fully depleted, and their production peaks at around 18 months. Many of these wells have been in production for well over three years. Ten years is far too short a planning horizon on which to stake the reliability and affordability of electricity in our nation. Accordingly, we must maintain a diverse and reliable fuel mix, which includes reliance on electricity produced by coal-fired power plants.
I want to point out that our modern methods of coal extraction are extremely safe and environmentally friendly. Take for instance the proposed Johnson Run mine in Athens County. Utilizing state and federal funding, the local community has worked to bring life back to the West Branch of Sunday Creek. Local folks believe the new mine will reverse the progress that has been made. Quite the contrary. The company applying for the permit has proposed a plan that entirely avoids mining in Johnson Run, which is a tributary to the West Branch. It will only be affecting some lower-quality wetlands and any water that discharges into Johnson Run and ultimately the West Branch will be higher quality than the receiving stream.
While President Trump has made great strides to reverse the destructive policies of the Obama administration, there remains much more that must be done in order to preserve low-cost, reliable electricity in the United States, and high-paying, good-benefits coal-mining jobs in Ohio.
The editorial, however, impaired this effort by abandoning the facts about the importance of coal for the future of all Ohioans.
Ohio Coal Association
See the article here.
- On March 29, 2018