Tonight’s State of the Union address is one of the most anticipated in recent history. Last week’s election in Massachusetts ended the Democrats’ super-majority in the U.S. Senate, and Americans from every walk of life are wondering, “What now?” Will Democrats and Republicans make a renewed effort for bipartisanship? Or will election year politics get in the way of legislative accomplishment?
While it may be difficult to predict what will happen this year, there is little doubt about what is on the minds of most Americans: their jobs, their family budget and the economy. At ACCCE, we share those concerns and are committed to advocating for and supporting policies that will strengthen our economy while creating and maintaining jobs.
First, let’s not forget that low-cost electricity from coal is a major economic driver. Coal is used to generate nearly 50 percent of America’s electricity, and states across America rely on coal to meet their electricity needs. Because of coal’s price stability and affordability, these states have been able to create manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries that provide good-paying jobs for American workers. We will work with the president and the Congress to ensure that public policies keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses.
Second, we will continue to support a comprehensive approach to federal carbon management legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bring new clean coal technologies to the marketplace, strengthen our economy and create jobs for American workers.
We can grow our economy, create jobs and ensure continued progress on the environment – including reducing carbon emissions. But accomplishing these goals will require all political parties and all economic sectors to work together. While this kind of cooperation is rare in Washington D.C., we remain optimistic about making progress on these goals in the years to come.
As economic development in China and India soars – along with their energy appetite – so does worldwide competition for energy, making it ever more important that we use our domestic resources as efficiently and judiciously as possible.
We’ve talked before about the plethora of energy options available to us, including renewable sources such as solar and wind. They both have their strengths – and they both have their weaknesses. For all their potential, these sources currently aren’t reliable enough to provide the always-on security that we need.
That’s why coal-generated electricity is so important.
Consider this fact:
•With more than 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves, the United States has more coal than the Middle East has oil.
We are fortunate to have the energy resources that so many others don’t. We have enough coal to power America’s homes and businesses at current rates for more than 200 years.
We have enough coal to power our schools, our hospitals, our streets and our ball fields. We have enough coal to provide America with the energy security it needs—now and well into the future.
Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is advising Cook Inlet Region Inc., an Alaska native-owned corporation, about building a 100-megawatt underground coal gasification plant on a shore near Anchorage, Ala., reports The San Francisco Business Times.
Alaska has about one-sixth of the world’s coal resources, The Times says. UGC technology would allow the state to fully use otherwise unrecoverable coal deposits, effectively tripling or quadrupling the U.S.’s coal reserves, according to Lawrence Livermore. This would be a big boost toward increasing our energy independence.
For those who aren’t familiar, underground coal gasification converts coal that is still in the ground into a combustible gas, which can then be used for industrial heating, power generation or the manufacture of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or diesel fuel.
The technology eliminates the need for coal to be mined, making it an environmentally safer and economically viable technology. Australia successfully demonstrated UGC on a commercial scale in 2008, and there are UGC projects underway in China, India and South Africa.
Cook Inlet Region Inc.’s $280 million UGC project is just one more example of our industry’s commitment to finding innovative ways to produce energy from coal. It would also help diversify Alaska’s current energy mix and provide a climate-conscious way to ensure greater energy security for the country.