We agree with lawmakers who say an "all of the above" approach is necessary to make the U.S. energy independent. We also believe that energy independence is possible and necessary to finally stop the nation from being dependent upon nations that recognize the power that comes with dependence.
But we question President Barack Obama's strategy that would seem to favor natural gas over coal, as if one non-renewable resource is better than the other.
Coal has been a reliable source of energy, especially for low-cost, dependable electricity, for more than a century. And, while the nation is weaning itself away from coal as a power source, we would continue to contend that engineering solutions are far closer and better for cleaning the dirty byproducts of coal ignition than they are to handling the wastes and dangers of nuclear power plants.
And, while the president seems to support increases in natural gas production, which could be good for our newfound regional wealth in gas and oil, he calls for gas not to cause increased pollution. And the handling of methane and production of natural gas using the systems in place now all add to the same kinds of ozone pollution precursors that burning any other fossil fuel carries. Even the Environmental Defense Fund verifies that.
Obama seems to ignore time and again the great strides that have been made by the coal-burning power industry over the past decade or so, including billions of dollars of investments in plants in Brilliant and Empire by AEP and FirstEnergy to reduce the pollutant output of the big coal-fired power generation stations.
What the nation needs is to find a way to continue improving coal's cleanup while beginning to invest in alternative energy systems. To do so would allow for the jobs that exist now to be added to the jobs Obama envisions in the new energy sector, thus making for a robust economy nationally, instead of one where every whim of the federal government regarding pollution control simply causes another pocket of job loss and poverty.
If he has a plan that can achieve that as a goal in some statistically provable form, we could consider the president as having done something other than declared war on coal.
We have yet to see any such proposal, and, as a result, we can only the plan he announced a week ago to be somewhat pie-in-the-sky, requiring investments of federal money the nation doesn't have, especially when it has to periodically lay off federal employees to keep any hope alive of keeping the government afloat.