National Importance of Coal Energy Reconfirmed

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The National Coal Conference hosted by the Nemacolin Energy Institute brought together industry leaders to discuss current challenges and the role coal will play in helping America move toward energy independence.

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Coal is vital to America's energy independence

The Nemacolin Energy Institute hosted the 1st Annual National Coal Conference on April 24 – 25, 2012. The conference brought together industry leaders to discuss current challenges and the role coal will play in helping America move toward energy independence.

Nemacolin Energy Institute reports, our nation’s development through the 20th century was fueled, in a large part, by fossil energy. Looking forward, coal will continue to be the source of more than half the electrical production required to support our nation’s economic growth in the 21st century. But, increasing regulation is making it difficult for the industry to meet our national needs.

Robert Murray, founder, Chairman, President and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation kicked off the conference with a candid review of the importance coal has played and must continue to play as a base load energy source for the generation of affordable electricity.

Mr. Murray explained, that today the coal industry in crisis. “The average cost of coal-fired electricity in America has been $0.04 per kilowatt hour. This compares to $0.22 per kilowatt hour for wind and solar electricity.” But, he claimed, the times are changing because of increased regulation and costs, “Families living on an income of less than $50,000 have historically paid 12% of their after-tax income for energy. Already, in 2012, it is projected to be 21%.” This makes the on-going availability of low cost, coal-fired electricity even more important to our nation’s economic recovery.

From a global context, Mr. Murray also cautioned, “China is bringing a new 500 megawatt, coal-fired power plant on-line every week. This means they will have a capability for low cost energy that could attract even more off-shoring of U.S. jobs.”

Congressman Tim Murphy(R - PA), delivered a message that America needs to address an immediate need to upgrade its transportation infrastructure and establish reasonable regulations to ensure the uninterrupted movement of coal to customers. He complimented the industry on their courage and dedication to helping Americans have continued access to affordable electricity.

Steve Miller, President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity spoke and called for an “all in” national energy policy coupled with a reasonable regulatory package that would encourage fair competition between all energy sources. The title of his talk was “Clean Coal, Now is The Time”, and he emphasized the critical importance of low-cost, coal–fired energy to power our nation’s resurgence in manufacturing.

Mike Carey, Bill Bisset, George Ellis, and Bill Raney Presidents of the Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia Coal Associations respectively, each delivered a sobering message that the coal industry (and specifically Appalachian coal) is being challenged with increased regulations that will result in an increase in coal-fired energy costs. They called for the development of a balanced national policy to help our nation become more energy independent.

Hal Quinn, President and CEO of the National Mining Association highlighted that the demand for electricity will be increasing as our national economy recovers and manufacturing returns to America. The key question he raised for critics aggressively looking to reduce coal utilization is – “How do you replace the electricity and jobs associated with coal?”

Steve Winberg, VP of R&D, and Coal Conversion & Power at CONSOL Energy Inc. closed the conference by challenging industry leaders to focus on helping address the global problem of geographic availability of energy. He pointed out that too many people do not have affordable access to energy. He shared data indicating there are 1.3B people in the world who live without electricity. The industry can play a key role in improving the lives of these people by continuing to invest in research to make coal an even more environmentally friendly energy source.

Dennis Noonan, Chairman of the Board of the Nemacolin Energy Institute, explained the NEI is committed to helping public and private sector leaders understand the facts about all energy sources in moving America toward energy independence.

The Nemacolin Energy Institute was filed as a 501 c(3) Organization in 2011. The vision of the NEI is to catalyze public and private sector leadership collaboration in the development and commercialization of America's energy resources and help provide timely factual knowledge necessary to tackle difficult challenges. To learn more about the Nemacolin Energy Institute, please visit http://www.neienergy.org

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Mark Kay Schriener
Nemacolin Energy Institute
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