FRANKFORT — A bipartisan group of 50 state representatives has written President Barack Obama, seeking to sway the president about energy produced from coal.
“Earlier this summer, President Obama made it clear that he sees coal as a detriment to this country’s future rather than the asset that it is,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo said. “Many of us in the House want him to take a much more reasoned approach, because we believe coal can and should continue to play a major role in making the United States truly energy independent. Now is not the time to turn our back on a resource that is as reliable as it is plentiful. Just as importantly, our state cannot afford any more drastic steps affecting one of our signature industries. We’re hurting enough as it is.”
In the letter, the representatives describe the president’s plan to further limit greenhouse gas emissions as “an unfair attack on coal.”
“For too many years now, any new effort to mine and use this critical resource has been turned away by federal officials and the courts,” the letter reads. “Promising initiatives that should satisfy both sides of the climate debate are essentially left in the research lab, while the environmental impact of other major energy sources is minimized by comparison. For coal, the playing field is more unlevel than every, and the goal posts keep moving further away.”
The letter notes that coal was responsible for $10 billion to the Kentucky economy in 2010, as well as 42,078 jobs.
“When these jobs are all but gone, can you tell us how we are supposed to replace them and the more than $1 billion in lost earnings?” the letter reads. “Job opportunities are already scarce in most of our mining communities. Our state also relies on coal-severance tax receipts, which totaled approximately $230 million in fiscal year 2013. Where will we get the support to offset the loss of those dollars? And the companies that choose to base their business in the commonwealth because it has some of the lowest energy rates in the nation: How are we going to be able to attract and retain those businesses and jobs?”
The writers suggest the federal government make a stronger commitment to clean-coal technology and alternative uses of coal, which the authors suggest would strengthen the nation’s energy independence.
“We believe our nation would be much better served by focusing on clean-coal technology with the same dedication and ingenuity put into the Manhattan Project and the space program …” the letter reads. “We also believe that our nation would be better served by increasing coal-to-liquid initiatives, something that has already drawn considerable interest from the military. This would futher minimize reliance on foreign oil and better stabilize gas prices.”
The letter was sent to the president Aug. 2.