Industry responds to Obama's coal-less Union address

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s repeated omission this week of coal as a viable energy source for the nation was certainly not lost on the industry, which has begun to speak out and has called for the advancement of technology that will include the use of coal.

Donna Schmidt

While Obama did touch heavily on his determination to strengthen the economy, create jobs and build up the economy of the US, National Mining Association president and chief executive officer Hal Quinn said America’s miners would need to be an indispensable component of that effort if the country was to be rebuilt on a stronger footing.

“We welcome his call to reform a broken permit system, one that also stymies growth in our mining industry and denies Americans the full benefits of the nation's mineral wealth,” he said.

“We urge him to expand these reforms to the mining sector.”

Quinn said that, as Obama pursued his energy ambition, the NMA hoped the advancement of policies to include technologies to strengthen the nation’s “diverse energy portfolio” and a more efficient and cleaner electricity generation plan played a large role.

“NMA is committed to working with policymakers on a pathway for this country to use its world leading coal reserves with reduced emissions while also providing consumers with affordable, reliable electricity,” he said.

What is necessary for every growing economy, the group’s executive said, was dependable, affordable and abundant energy, and America's coal had helped grow “an economy and a middle class that have been the envy of the world”

“Our minerals are critical to US manufacturing and national defense,” Quinn said.

“With our technological ingenuity and sensible policies, we can ensure coal and minerals continue to make vital contributions to the nation's prosperity.”

Another coal advocacy group to speak up as the State of the Union was being readied was the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

After the speech, the comments of ACCCE president and chief executive officer Robert Duncan resonate even more.

“Over the past four years the administration’s policies have been inconsistent with the President’s campaign rhetoric,” he said.

“America needs coal-based electricity to hold down energy prices, keep manufacturers competitive, help the budgets of struggling families, and make our nation more secure.

“Americans want to see a path forward for clean coal. A recent poll shows that 77% of Americans believe that US policies in the next four years should include clean coal electricity.”

One pro-coal legislator, former West Virginia governor and current state senator Joe Manchin – never one to mince words about the need for the industry – said he was disappointed in Obama’s omission of coal.

“I was pleased to hear the President strike a bipartisan and cooperative tone in his speech,” he said. “I was, however, disappointed that he refused to mention coal when he discussed controlling our energy future.

“I’ve consistently pushed for an all-of-the-above energy policy, and this president must do the same … any discussion of our nation’s energy future must include coal.”

Manchin called upon Obama to take a bipartisan stance on every vital issue, coal or otherwise.

“Long-term solutions are crucial so that we aren’t back here next year listening to the same speech from the President because Congress just kicked the can down the road and failed to meet our obligation to the American people,” he said.

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