On Monday, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unveiled new legislation that would require the EPA to expedite the process for coal companies seeking permits to open new mines, as covered by the Associated Press. U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) plans to introduce similar legislation in the House next week.
McConnell’s “Coal Jobs Protection Act” is a promising step in protecting the coal industry from what he asserts is EPA action beyond its “scope of authority” by making the permitting process for coal mines more burdensome, The Hill noted.
“Coal is a vital part of my state’s economy, and a vital part of America’s energy portfolio,” McConnell said. “The EPA’s attack on this important Kentucky industry hampers the growth of jobs, and it especially hampers the growth of small business — the greatest engine of job creation.”
McConnell clearly recognizes the importance of coal in keeping our nation’s economy strong, providing good jobs to hard-working Americans, and preserving access to affordable and reliable energy. In his own state of Kentucky, over 4,000 coal industry jobs have been lost – a drop of nearly 30 percent – prompting action through this new legislative measure.
Integrated coal gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) plants power many communities throughout the country. This clean coal technology converts coal to a synthetic gas that is then combusted in a combined-cycle system, one of the most efficient in commercial use today, meaning more energy and less emissions from coal-fueled power plants.
IGCC can achieve thermal efficiencies that exceed 40 percent, thus emitting as much as 30 percent less carbon dioxide. IGCC plants also have very low SO2, NOX, particulate matter, and mercury emissions – making them some of the cleanest plants in the United States – using our nation’s most affordable and abundant domestic fuel resource – coal.
Among the plants that will be using IGCC technology is the Edwardsport Station in Indiana, which is expected to begin commercial operation by the middle of this year. “The 618-megawatt IGCC facility will be one of the cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the world.”
In North Dakota, Basin Electric Power Cooperative owns and operates a plant employing gasification technology. The Great Plains Synfuels Plant – the cleanest energy plant operating in the state – is “a model of how coal can be used to produce energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.”
In Kemper County, Mississippi, Southern Company is building a 582-megawatt transport integrated gasification (TRIG) plant that will deploy technology to capture 65 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from the plant, using the state’s four billion ton reserve of lignite coal.
Just another way clean coal technologies are powering our energy future.
In commemoration of Earth Day, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity president and CEO Mike Duncan released the following statement:
“By 2015, more than 90 percent of U.S. coal power plants will have installed clean coal technologies and other advanced emissions controls. This unprecedented investment is leading to cleaner air, while preserving the affordable electricity generated by coal. The coal industry is proud of these accomplishments and looks forward to newer technologies to improve the lives of all Americans.”