Big coal doesn't dig climate-change bill

Add Pennsylvania’s coal-mine operators to those in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky who oppose the climate-change legislation pending in Washington.

The 26 member companies of the Pennsylvania Coal Association voted unanimously at its Aug. 19 annual board meeting to oppose the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House of Representatives and is before the Senate.

While environmental groups have been critical of some of the amendments made as being too favorable to the coal industry, the mine operators and mine workers union see the legislation as the biggest threat to their livelihood.

Let’s face it, the coal industry will have a tough time rallying public support for its position.

However, it does wield some daunting statistics to make its case, such as 56 percent of the electricity generated in Pennsylvania comes from coal. In Ohio and Kentucky, coal accounts for more than 90 percent.

What could Pennsylvania, the fourth-largest coal producing state, adopt to replace it? Solar, wind, nuclear, perhaps. But can Pennsylvania power producers really build enough of those by 2025 to reduce its dependence on coal?

“There are no short-term alternatives for coal as a source of electricity,” said George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association.

Coal is not a clean energy, so it’s no wonder that the climate-change bill seeks to limit its use. But the coal industry argues that it’s a plentiful energy source at a time when politicians are speechifying about the need to the United States to gain its “energy independence.” That’s independence from foreign oil, not foreign coal.

So what’s left of King Coal has spoken in Harrisburg. We’ll see if anyone other than Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Bob Casey hears their grumbling in Washington.


There’s no guarantee with turnarounds. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, or they work and sometimes they don’t work as well as you’d like.

- James P. Fogarty, CEO of Charming Shoppes Inc., yesterday discussing the ongoing overhaul of its Fashion Bug retail chain.