More than 400 Dems press White House against greenhouse gas rules

Source: Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013

More than 400 Democrats from around the country are urging the White House to reconsider U.S. EPA’s proposal for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

The current and former politicians wrote President Obama a letter today as part of the CoalBlue Project, a group meant to boost and highlight Democratic support for the coal industry.

“To achieve a clean energy future, we must develop energy resources that are abundant, affordable and reliable, yet have minimal impact on the environment,” the Democrats wrote.

“Sustainable coal will help attain a greater balance between worldwide demands for energy that derive from economic and societal advances, and the obligation to deliver a clean, enduring environment for future generations.”

Among the letter’s signers are Kentucky Secretary of State and Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, West Virginia Secretary of State and Senate candidate Natalie Tennant, and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

McAuliffe’s signature is particularly notable because in recent days he has signaled support for the Obama administration’s efforts to combat climate change, while at the same time seeking not to antagonize the coal industry (E&ENews PM, Oct. 1). Environmental groups are backing his candidacy.

Today’s letter calls for dialogue with the administration on climate change measures while also noting that “current efforts in this regard are inadequate and unbalanced.”

In their letter, the Democratic politicians, including former Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher, press a coal industry argument that the administration’s proposal relies too heavily on technologies that have yet to be proved on a commercial scale.

They write that “critical carbon-mitigating coal technologies will not reach the marketplace in a timely manner without strong leadership from you and your administration, nor without significant public investment — similar in scale to that which other energy technologies have received in recent years.

They add, “Our efforts should not make traditional energy more expensive in order to make higher-cost alternative energy market competitive. The world will not follow us if the path we chart leads only to more expensive energy.”

CoalBlue may also come in handy for politicians in tight coal-country races, where Republicans are hoping to use the Obama administration’s coal policies against Democrats (E&ENews PM, July 24). The GOP, however, has highlighted the group’s lobbyist connections (Greenwire, Sept. 5).

Regulations and market conditions, including cheap natural gas, have dealt the coal industry what can be called a perfect storm. Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration cited a Kentucky study showing mine employment there at its lowest level since record-keeping started in 1927.

The agency said that while coal production continued to drop during the beginning of 2013, particularly in Appalachia, it should increase by 3 percent next year. With natural gas prices up from record lows, coal plants are burning more coal and drawing down inventories.

Click here to read the EIA report.

Click here to read the letter.