For the foreseeable future, our economy will rely upon hydrocarbons for energy, a fact that seems lost in the policy debate as the President continues to adhere to the climate orthodoxy in spite of its unrealistic economic implications.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal generates 40% of the electricity in the U.S. and will remain so until coal is replaced by a viable clean coal technology or by a bridge fuel like natural gas. Yet, in President Obama’s recent climate change action plan, he highlighted his plans for reducing coal carbon emissions, via carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS. This new technology will potentially provide for safe, long-term underground storage of greenhouse gases if the technology surrounding it can be improved.
The President’s plan seems to imply that a crackdown on the burning of coal is a responsible way to deal with climate change. Politically, perhaps, it may be an attractive way to preserve his legacy. But from an economic perspective for our nation, it is the wrong option, especially with a realistic plan to replace nearly half of the electricity needed.
The developing world needs economically viable solutions, not political pandering and posturing. Africa, India, and other developing countries are striving to provide higher standards of living and strong economic growth for their citizens. Coal can and will be used in many areas due to its accessibility and low costs. Developing countries are not the only ones dependent on coal. U.S. coal mines are responsible for more than 760,000 jobs. According to the industry, regardless of whether these numbers are dead on or not, attacking an industry without a realistic succession plan isn’t a recipe our economy can afford.
Instead of issuing unrealistic proclamations, the President would better serve the needs of our economy and the globe’s by not dismissing the existing energy infrastructure.