As America moves into a new presidential administration and Congress, we hope those newly elected focus on critical challenges facing the country like ensuring reliable, affordable power.
The widespread availability of low-cost power has always been one of America’s greatest advantages, and is the result of our plentiful natural resources – the most abundant of which is coal. U.S. deposits of this fuel source are the largest in the entire world; in fact, our 260 billion tons of unused coal reserves could fuel America for the next 280 years. Having so much coal at our disposal has led to average annual consumption of 917 million tons, and in states using it to generate a majority of their electricity, average rates are lower.
Recently, America’s Power fan Barb A. commented on our Facebook page saying “coal is essential to this nation.” When considering the vital economic role our ample coal resources play, it’s easy to see how this is true. An incomplete view of coal considers only its role in our past, fueling America through the Industrial Revolution and into our position as a global economic leader. Over the years, however, the industry has advanced with our economy, employing the use of technologies to produce coal-based electricity more cleanly and efficiently than ever before without sacrificing its low costs. Today, the industry is supporting more than 700,000 related jobs and has cut emissions more than 92 percent since 1970.
America’s energy present is one filled with increasing environmental pressures and a scramble for solutions. This has led to misguided attempts at regulating fuel sources, like coal, out of the energy mix – an effort that only jeopardizes America’s energy security and continued access to affordable electricity. Maintaining the low-cost power we enjoy in the present while moving successfully into our energy future means not targeting fuels like coal as the problem – but instead harnessing their potential as part of the resolution. This not only means ensuring it can fairly compete in the energy marketplace, but also calls for government to work with industry and innovators who can develop technologies to further increase coal’s efficiency.
For millions like Barb, who look to this fuel for affordable electricity and even their family’s livelihood, it’s critical everyone from newly elected policymakers to everyday Americans fully understand coal-based electricity’s important contribution to our nation. Emerging successfully into a strong energy future means choosing all-of-the-above energy policies now.