U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs: Time to stop Obama administration's war on coal
Two weeks ago, President Obama rolled out his climate change plan in a speech at Georgetown University. His initiative, which includes halting the Keystone XL Pipeline project and making cuts to coal energy, will wipe out American jobs and raise electricity bills for hardworking American families across the country.
President Obama needs to recognize that maintaining reliable and affordable energy is not something that just happens. When a switch is flipped, rarely do we stop and consider the tremendous amount of hard work and ingenuity that was required to light up a room or power equipment. Today, America possesses the largest economy and is the most powerful nation on Earth, thanks in part to our natural resources. And as our economy is attempting to restore its full strength, it is vital that we do not forget what made America strong in the first place.
By and large, coal is what powers our economic engine. According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), coal accounts for nearly 80 percent of the state's electric generation. The reason coal remains a primary source of energy is not because of political gimmicks, subsidies or special tax treatment. Coal powers America because it is cheap, abundant and reliable.
The administration's "War on Coal" threatens to eliminate coal as a viable option and replace it with unproven sources that cost more and deliver less. Even worse, if the president is successful, the coal industry and its thousands of Ohio employees will not be the only casualties. At a time when global competition is fierce, our businesses will be placed at an immediate disadvantage to nations like China, making it even more difficult to create jobs in America. The news won't be good for hardworking families either, who can expect to see more of their paycheck going toward electric bills.
Coal energy does not have to come at the expense of the environment and the well-being of citizens. The coal industry has seen dramatic improvements in technology over the past several decades. New technologies have been adopted to capture, store and reduce emissions. It is important that research and development continues for clean coal technologies, since coal remains a proven, cost-effective method of generating the electricity necessary to grow the economy and power our communities.
Coal is not the single solution to our economic problems, but it should be part of the solution. America needs to adopt an all-of-the-above energy strategy that encompasses all forms of economically feasible generation. It is clear that the administration isn't interested in all-of-the-above. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, I have seen first-hand that the EPA is much more concerned with shutting down the fossil fuel industry than with improving the current system.
We need more than one source of energy to attain energy independence and security, and coal must be a part of the equation. The coal industry contributes significantly to the vitality of the economy within Ohio, and the regulations put forward by the president hamper the job market for Ohioans. I, along with my Republican colleagues in the House, am working every day to take a stand against these destructive policies.
U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs represents Ohio's 7th Congressional District. He sits on the Agriculture and the Transportation and Infrastructure committees.
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