February 21, 2012

Domestic energy: Coal under attack - again | The Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The Obama administration’s decision to cut $93 million from coal research and development is another disappointing example of the president’s distorted view of coal.

At the same time that funding for coal research was cut, Obama requested an additional $2.7 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is a whopping 47 percent increase over current levels, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.

However, the Energy Information Administration has estimated that renewable energy sources will only generate 16 percent of our electricity needs by 2035. By comparison, 45 percent of our nation’s electricity in 2010 was still coming from coal. Another 24 percent came from natural gas, with nuclear energy also representing another 20 percent in 2010.

However, renewable energy sources such as wind represented only 10 percent of our nation’s energy sources in 2010, according to Manchin.

Obama’s proposed budget also includes no funding for coal-to-liquid projects. We can’t say we are surprised to hear that.

Fortunately, someone in Washington is still fighting for coal. Manchin grilled U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the Obama administration last week about picking winners and losers when it comes to research funding for critical domestic energy resources. Manchin also questioned how the Obama administration can claim they’re advocating an “all of the above” energy strategy and at the same time cut funding for research into clean-coal technologies that can help the country use its most affordable and abundant domestic energy source in a more clean and efficient way.

“I can’t figure out the rationale ... when you cut funding to resources that will continue to provide the energy we’re dependent upon by your own estimation,” Manchin told Chu last week. “It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense at all that we can’t do it better, cleaner and work together.”

It doesn’t make any sense to us either. At one time, the Department of Energy was eager to promote new coal-to-liquid projects. Now an administration that is solely focused on green energy wants nothing to do with coal.

What is the administration’s plan to keep the lights on once we stop mining coal? Despite what the president says, his administration simply can’t build enough wind turbines and solar energy buildings quickly enough to do away with coal.

But he certainly seems intent upon trying. If the administration has its way, the future could be problematical for coal, coal miners and their families.

By:  Editorial