Coal Tattoo

Industry complains President Obama overlooks coal

President Barack Obama waves as he leaves Georgetown University in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2011, after speaking about his plan for America’s energy security. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama, in a major energy speech today, made a brief reference to coal:

And just like the fuels we use, we also have to find cleaner, renewable sources of electricity. Today, about two-fifths of our electricity comes from clean energy sources. But I know that we can do better than that. In fact, I think that with the right incentives in place, we can double it. That’s why, in my State of the Union Address, I called for a new Clean Energy Standard for America: by 2035, 80 percent of our electricity will come from an array of clean energy sources, from renewables like wind and solar to efficient natural gas to clean coal and nuclear power.

Not nearly enough praise for coal to please the National Mining Association, which issued this statement in response to the president’s speech:

The president’s goal of reducing oil imports is attainable if we use the enormous potential of our nation’s coal reserves – America’s most abundant energy resource – for creating an array of fuels that can lessen our dependence on foreign oil. The technology exists today that can transform our coal resources into clean, affordable transportation fuels, provide a wide range of industrial fuels and supplement the energy needs of our armed forces. And all while creating thousands of jobs across the country by using an abundant domestic resource.

As a U.S. senator from Illinois, the president rightly acknowledged that more energy resides in American coal than exists in the oil of the Persian Gulf. Indeed, the United States is called the Saudi Arabia of coal for a reason–our coal reserves can supply more than three times the amount of fuel contained in Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves. We urge the president and Congress to work with the U.S. coal industry to unlock the full potential of American coal for providing the fuels to make our nation stronger.