SME Director Kanagy Takes Critics of CMA OP ED to Task – Urges Sensible Approach to Climate Regulation

In reading the responses to Stuart Sanderson‘s guest column on the EPA rules (Denver Business Journal, 11/7/2014), I wondered whether we were reading the same article. Sanderson’s arguments are not grounded in “denial” of climate change, but rather demonstrate convincingly that EPA’s Clean Power Plan will cost homeowners and our economy plenty, while producing little to no meaningful reductions of global carbon emissions.

The current “war on coal” is irrational. Such a drastic shift away from coal will immediately increase energy costs and place more reliance on natural gas and nuclear power, which will lead to higher and potentially more volatile utility prices.

Although we realize many benefits from renewables, gas and other forms of energy, we shouldn’t eliminate any energy option, especially when the elimination of that source would be at so great a cost to our country.

Coal is our most abundant fossil energy fuel and the United States has more coal than any other nation. Second, China, India, Indonesia and other developing economies will rely on coal to provide a significant proportion of their vast needs for energy in the coming decades (and the last time I checked, they admit to the same atmosphere). If the United States does not take the lead in developing clean coal technology (e.g. high efficiency low emissions technologies such as super-critical and ultra super-critical coal generation, carbon capture sequestration, and other advances), then who will?

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act. We should. A sensible, long-term, forward-looking plan to control and manage carbon emissions makes sense in the face of such uncertainty. But such action must be developed as part of a national energy policy and must consider the costs and benefits of planned actions.

The mining industry has a critical part to play in helping to shape the longer term energy situation globally by providing the metals and minerals needed for the emerging energy technologies, as well through clean coal technology, and the production of metals for efficient energy generation and power transmission, or materials for energy storage (the reality is even renewable energy comes from mining). Without mining, there wouldn’t be any (man-made) energy at all.

David L. Kanagy is executive director of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc.