With the 2016 elections now behind us and a new administration crafting strategies to drive the American economy forward for the next four years, the composition of our nation’s energy mix and the way in which we produce electricity is up in the air. As of 2013, the U.S. consumed 18 percent of the world’s total primary energy, despite having less than 5 percent of the global population.
As domestic manufacturing, technological development, and the expansion of infrastructure remain vital to America’s continued welfare, the importance of a reliable and efficient energy grid has never been more important. Growth requires energy—and more, it requires dependable energy.
To ensure this growth continues unimpeded, policymakers would be well-advised to make use of our nation’s vast energy reserves. Currently, America sits atop 260 billion tons of coal reserves; with an annual usage of around 917 million tons – generating roughly 30 percent of America’s electricity. That’s enough to power our country for nearly three centuries. This abundance translates into low cost, with the price markedly lower than other sources.
Coal’s abundance and affordability as a power resource are not the only benefits. The coal industry is responsible for more than 805,000 American jobs; taking into account families and dependents, millions of American livelihoods depend on coal. In 2015 alone, coal was responsible for more than $13 billion in wages and salaries.
Increasing consumption coupled with increasing demand for secure energy resourcing and production means that energy jobs—and the electricity these jobs produce—will be available to power American homes and businesses for a very long time.