Some of us have been around long enough to remember when our country first figured out it was time we stop relying on other countries for our energy needs. It was in 1973. An Arab oil embargo sent shock waves through the U.S. economy with gas prices soaring from 39 cents to 56 cents a gallon. Then-President Nixon proposed “Project Independence” as the first step in kicking America’s oil import habit.
Forty years have passed and our political leaders continue to dispute what an American energy policy should look like, even after fighting several wars over oil that have cost us billions of dollars and thousands of American lives.
Ironically, the mountains of West Virginia have provided an answer for decades. We must use all of our energy resources to meet as much of our energy needs as possible. Across America, it only makes common sense that we use every source of domestic energy – coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, biomass, wind and solar – to keep our economy humming, create good-paying jobs on our soil and work toward energy independence.
However, the Obama Administration seems hell-bent on picking winners and losers in our energy sector, no matter what the cost is to our nation. President Obama said as much this summer when he unveiled his climate change agenda that stated plans to move away from coal and natural gas to other sources, even though the technology is not yet available on a commercial scale.
Even more recently, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement of the new source performance standards (NSPS) proves there is direct evidence that this Administration is trying to hold the coal industry to impossible standards. Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that has never been done. Forcing coal to meet the same emissions standards as gas when experts know that the required technology is not operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense and will have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy.
If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow. We need the federal government to work as a partner, not an adversary, and to invest in America’s energy future.
The facts are plain and simple: Coal provides the greatest share of electricity we use, generating around 40 percent of our power. The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration even predicts that coal will continue to be a major source of electricity for at least the next 30 years. It’s just common sense to level the playing field and accept that coal is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a significant part of our energy mix while new energy innovations are still developing.
And as we’ve seen in the last 10 years, natural gas is just as important as coal and is giving us the opportunity to move away from a dependence on foreign oil, not to mention providing a renaissance for American manufacturing.
It’s important to use all of these sources and continue to produce cleaner energy as we’ve done over the last 40 years. During that time we’ve seen more than a 90 percent reduction in emissions from coal, which just goes to show what we can do if we work at it.
But such a solution has not been a vision of America’s energy future for the Obama Administration. And that needs to change.
The diversity of our energy mix is one of the reasons America currently enjoys affordable and reliable electricity. Competition not only keeps prices low; it also stimulates innovation, encourages economic growth and creates good-paying jobs across this great country.
I’m confident that if we work together, this country can develop a strong bipartisan energy plan that will chart a new and promising energy future for America.