the PDF - CoalBlue Project

Dear Mr. President:
As Democrats committed to a prosperous American economy and a healthy environment, we believe the United States
has a unique opportunity to lead the world in addressing the global carbon challenge without unduly burdening our
own economy. Seizing that opportunity will require the adoption of energy and environmental policies that will
encourage and induce the international community – industrialized and developing nations alike – to follow our lead.
In that regard, American leadership must be built upon a recognition of the realities of global energy demand, the role
all energy sources – including coal – will play in the world’s energy future, and the imperative of accelerated energy
We write to you today because we believe the current direction of U.S. policy – underscored in the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) proposed standards for new and existing electric generating units – falls short of these critical
benchmarks and requires serious reconsideration.
Last year, 422 Democratic leaders from across the nation joined together in support of the mission of the CoalBlue
Project. We wrote to you to express our strong belief in the need to secure a diverse mix of sustainable energy
resources, including sustainable coal, as vital to America’s future and its standing in the world. Today, we renew the
call for a sustainable energy agenda that reflects a realistic assessment of coal’s enduring role in meeting our nation’s
and the world’s demand for energy for decades to come, and how we can make that reality compatible with the goal
of reducing global CO2 emissions. We write to you not on behalf of any industry or special interest, but on behalf of
the American people we represent in elective office and as leaders within the Democratic Party.
Despite the significant steps being taken in the United States and across the globe to conserve energy through greater
energy efficiency, the world will nonetheless consume ever-greater amounts of energy in the decades to come, and
coal will, without question, be a critical part of future energy supply. In fact, globally, coal has been the fastest growing
fuel of the 21st Century, and is forecast by some to overtake oil as the world’s number one source of energy by the end
of this decade. Worldwide, coal consumption is projected to increase 56 percent between 2010 and 2035, with
developing and emerging economies accounting for more than 100 percent of that increase.
The nations of the developing world are starving for affordable and reliable energy that will enable their economies to
grow and their citizens to prosper. With so much of their growth fueled by coal and other fossil fuels, it is in the
developing world where the carbon challenge will be won or lost, with success hinging on our ability to manage the
carbon in coal (and natural gas), not thinking or hoping we can simply wish it away.
Looking beyond conservation and efficiency, our efforts and our focus must be on the development and use of truly
sustainable energy – energy that is abundant, affordable, reliable, and clean. At present, no source of energy meets all
four elements of sustainability. For that reason, the United States must invest more in energy innovation, working to
make clean those electrons that are today affordable and reliable, and to make affordable and reliable those electrons
that are relatively clean. Unfortunately, current policies are overwhelmingly skewed toward the latter, while giving
little attention and support to the former. This imbalance is a serious failing that demands immediate attention.
To be focused only on clean is not enough. Energy affordability and reliability are of critical importance to every
American family and business, and are factors that have led the United States to the heights of prosperity. Maintaining
access to affordable and reliable energy – domestically and globally – are essential prerequisites to any effort to address
the carbon challenge. The American people will object, and other nations of the world will not follow our lead, if the
path America charts results in more expensive, less reliable energy. True leadership requires the pursuit of policies that
will make all forms of clean energy less expensive, be they renewable or fossil-based, and as reliable as current baseload
coal-fired generation.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed rules for new and existing electric generating units severely miss the mark in many
regards. Taken together, the proposals endanger the development of critical carbon-mitigating technologies necessary
to achieve sustainability, threaten the reliability of the power grid, and place on the American public an economic
burden that will not be offset by any meaningful reductions in global carbon emissions.
EPA’s proposed rule for new generating units will inhibit the development and deployment of advanced energy
technologies that are critical to carbon mitigation. Despite EPA claims to the contrary, carbon capture and storage
(CCS) technology – the linchpin of EPA’s new unit proposal – is not yet commercially viable. Nor will the proposed
regulations make it so. According to CCS developers and manufacturers – the very companies that stand to gain
financially from rules that would aggressively drive CCS technology forward – the EPA’s proposal threatens to stifle
technology innovation and discourage needed development financing. In practical application, the rule as proposed
will actually work against itself.
EPA’s proposed rule for existing generating units will place tremendous economic burdens on the American economy,
American families, and American businesses, without any material impact alone on global carbon emissions. Absent
other nations following our lead, the EPA’s proposal will do nothing to stem the growth of global CO2 emissions.
Leadership requires that others follow, and while we not only support, but call for U.S. leadership in addressing the
global carbon challenge, policies that increase the cost of electricity and reduce the reliability of the grid – as the EPA’s
proposal for existing units would do – will not lead other nations to follow.
Moreover, raising the cost of energy in the United States will lead to a transfer of economic activity and jobs from the
United States to other nations – many of which generate electricity less efficiently and with far higher rates of CO2
emissions. This “carbon leakage” will actually result in a net increase in global CO2 emissions, all the while our
constituents will be paying an economic price at home. As Democrats, particularly mindful of the impact of public policy
on families, workers, and small businesses, we find such an outcome difficult to explain.
In the United States, we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources that, if properly managed, have the
potential to provide a level of North American energy independence never before seen in our nation’s modern history.
Achieving this elusive goal will require the wise use of our entire portfolio of resources, including our domestic fossil
fuels and, importantly, coal. Through the continued use of coal and other fossil fuels and the concurrent development
of commercially viable, advanced sustainable energy technologies, not only will the prospects for North American
energy independence become more achievable, but we will fashion a model of addressing carbon emissions to be
replicated across the globe.
In this regard, the CoalBlue Project encourages the EPA to reconsider and revise its proposed regulations on new and
existing generating units – regulations that, in their current form, run counter to many of the economic and
environmental goals you have espoused, as well as fail the people we represent.
Mr. President, we have consciously sought to be constructive in expressing our concerns regarding the EPA’s proposed
rules for new and existing power plants and the larger imbalance in our current energy and environmental policies. Our
goal is to work with you and your administration to seize the opportunity before us for the United States to show itself
a leader – through an unparalleled commitment to energy innovation – on one of the most daunting challenges of our
time. Let us lead by bringing abundant, affordable, reliable, and clean energy – sustainable coal, natural gas, wind,
solar, and nuclear energy – to our nation and to the world.
Holding fast to our Democratic traditions and principles, we endeavor to work with you to meet our obligation to deliver
a prosperous economy and a clean, enduring environment for future generations.