With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inviting Georgians to participate on Oct. 23 in the first of 11 “listening sessions” the agency is conducting around the country to solicit ideas about the best ways to reduce carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, the National Mining Association had some pro-coal things to say.
These listening sessions will provide members of the public and other stakeholders in Georgia with the opportunity to help shape the policies that will determine the state’s energy future. Because coal provides 34% of Georgia’s electricity, the input produced by these meetings could have a profound impact on the cost of electricity for homes and businesses across Georgia and throughout the nation, the NMA said.
Notable is that coal-fired generation in Georgia is shrinking fast as the Georgia Power subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) shuts some existing capacity and converts more capacity to other fuels.
“Coal, along with natural gas, nuclear, and renewables, plays an important role in providing Georgia with an affordable and reliable supply of energy,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the NMA, in an Oct. 22 statement. “It’s a fact, for example, that states with the highest percentage of coal-fired electricity have a high percentage of the manufacturers who support hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs. It is important for Georgia to continue to enjoy a competitive advantage for its manufacturers by preserving the state’s attractive energy mix.”
While the state does not have any direct coal mining, coal-generated electricity supports the state’s middle-class manufacturing jobs and in 2011, regional coal-mining activities supported 9,230 jobs in Georgia and contributed $1.2bn in direct and indirect economic contributions to the state.
“The outcome of these listening sessions is critically important,” Quinn said. “Reasonable rules for existing power plants are needed, that support a diverse energy mix and serve the public best. Flexibility is important, because each state’s energy mix and energy needs are different. It’s also essential that a long lead-time is provided for meeting any new rules that are introduced because these types of regulations are broad-based and related major capital investments will require a flexible timeline. In Georgia and elsewhere throughout the nation it would be foolish to diminish the role of a plentiful resource like coal in our energy mix just as new technologies allow us to use it to generate electricity in way that addresses America’s economic and environmental interests in a balanced fashion.”
The National Mining Association is the voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C. Membership includes more than 325 corporations involved in all aspects of coal and solid minerals production including coal.