Coal is less costly than solar energy or wind power, and should be a key element in a U.S. energy strategy, according to a national energy group based near Washington.
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia – “While reports of price increases and concerns about supply shortages abound, America still lacks a critical national energy policy that protects Americans from supply disruptions and price shocks,” says Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). “While some advocate in favor of increased government regulations to remove affordable energy sources like coal from America’s energy mix, ABEC believes that all domestic energy resources will be needed to meet America’s growing energy demand in the 21st century.” “A strong, effective national energy policy must take advantage of all domestic energy resources – including electricity from coal – if America is to meet the increased demand for energy and keep prices low,” it argues. “Extreme positions that encourage elimination of coal from our nation’s energy mix ignore some fundamental truths about the use of coal as an energy resource.” The United States uses coal to generate more than half its electricity, but the fuel is coming under criticism for its release of greenhouse gas emissions that are linked with global warming and climate change. ABEC describes itself as a non-partisan organization that links community leaders to encourage public dialogue on the need for a balanced national energy policy. “Electricity from coal brings value to consumers because it provides power at about half the cost of other fossil fuels, and is less costly and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as solar energy or wind,” it explains. “Over the past 20 years, the price of coal increased just four percent, compared to a 211 percent increase in the price of natural gas and a 51 percent increase in the price of crude oil.” The escalating price for natural gas illustrate the “critical need” for a balanced national energy policy, and ABEC notes that the federal Energy Information Agency predicts that American homes in cold-climate states will pay $240 more for natural gas heat this winter than one year ago. “Without a national energy policy that capitalizes on all available domestic resources, Americans will be forced to pay drastically higher prices for energy and our quality of life will suffer,” it warns. The coal industry has invested $50 billion in the past 30 years to reduce emissions from generating plants, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says overall emissions of pollutants have dropped 31 percent since 1970, during which time consumption of coal-fired electricity has tripled.