“Coal is the most American fuel, so the debate in this country is about getting a balanced energy policy that allows us to have the kind of reliable electricity that makes us the envy of the world, that allows us to be the manufacturing giant that we have been, have the standard of living that we enjoy and to produce the American Dream.”
— Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, about the important role coal plays in the American economy
On Wednesday two candidates vying for the highest office in the land participated in the first 2012 presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver.
Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity headquartered in Washington, D.C., said Colorado was an appropriate venue for a debate in which the economy was the dominant theme.
Not only is Colorado a key battleground state for President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney in the upcoming general election, it’s also a state with a thriving coal production industry, Duncan said.
“I believe the debate tonight is about the economy and I think one of the big drivers of the economy is energy,” said Duncan before the debate. “Talk about energy on the national level is focused on having a balanced energy policy, and a big part of that is coal.”
Obama has talked about an all of the above energy platform since the presidential campaign began, Duncan said, but radical Environmental Protection Agency regulations could put Colorado coal mines and coal fired power plants out of business, costing thousands of jobs in the state and throughout the country.
“It’s heading your way,” Duncan said. “Colorado has been fortunate for the last couple years because there’s been an uptick after several years of declining coal production.
“But, if you look at what’s going on in the central Appalachian coal area — Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky — you’re going to see that there’s been a lot of closures.”
ACCCE recently conducted a study that shows there are 204 power plants slated for closure in the next several months.
Those power plants, Duncan said, account for more than 31,000 megawatts of electricity generation, which is more than what the 42 smallest states in the union contribute to the energy grid combined.
Though Duncan doesn’t discount the significance of a potential loss of 5,000 coal mining jobs and 5,000 auxiliary jobs in Colorado due to the EPA’s war on coal, he thinks the upcoming election could affect the United States’ position as a world power.
“We have some of the cleanest air and water in the world, yet we’re competing with developing nations throughout the world because they understand the competitive advantage of having low cost, reliable energy,” he said. “Coal is the most American fuel, so the debate in this country is about getting a balanced energy policy that allows us to have the kind of reliable electricity that makes us the envy of the world, that allows us to be the manufacturing giant that we have been, have the standard of living that we enjoy and to produce the American Dream.
“To me, that’s what this is all about.”
Before the debate Duncan said he was hoping to hear Obama’s vision for the future and a concession that the EPA has gone too far in its regulation of the coal industry.
He was also hoping to hear from Romney a recognition for a fundamental change in our energy based economy.
“If we choose fuels that make us less competitive in the world market, we’re going to have less manufacturing in the country,” Duncan said. “If we choose fuels that are less abundant and less reliable, then we’re going to have a higher cost of electricity for individuals, and those who will suffer the most are in the lower income brackets because more of their income goes to paying utilities.”
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.