State of the Union: Not much about coal

January 25, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

President Obama didn’t have much to say about coal during last night’s State of the Union address. But he did talk just a bit about a few things that certainly impact the coal industry. Here are the excerpts:

The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted …

… Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.  So here’s a proposal:  Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings.  Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them.  Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

… But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago.   I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.

By my count, it’s been two years since the president directly mentioned coal in his State of the Union. Some may recall that this is what he said during his 2010 address:

… To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I haven’t seen statements from all of West Virginia’s congressional delegation members, but Sen. Joe Manchin never misses a chance to criticize his party’s president and defend the coal industry:

When it comes to energy and regulations, I’m hopeful that when the President looks for overregulation, the first place he looks is his own EPA, which is making it extremely difficult for us to provide the energy this nation needs at affordable prices. I still have a hard time understanding how you can have a comprehensive energy plan in America without coal – when coal produces nearly 50 percent of our energy and knowing that new technologies can make it much cleaner.

4 Responses to “State of the Union: Not much about coal”

  1. I noted on my blog that although he said that our nation needs an “all out all of the above strategy”, that was simply more double-speak- in his next line he clarifies that this strategy means less oil, less natural gas, less coal, and less drilling. His ‘all of the above’ strategy is going to include additional fees, regulations, and rules on companies that he doesn’t like (and he doesn’t like coal and oil). So, in summary, he is pitching a “some of the below strategy”.

    At least that’s what I got out of it- I could be wrong though. Anyone else have a different version?

  2. Matt Wasson says:

    Senator Manchin sure seems to have trouble getting his facts straight – especially for someone who touts himself as having some sort of energy expertise. Could one of his aides who reads this blog please get him straightened out on the fact that coal represents just over 20% of US energy consumption? That’s still a lot, but it’s a far cry from 50%, and it’s kind of embarrassing and I don’t think it helps his credibility to inflate the number by such an absurd amount (EIA data for 2011 show coal and coke accounted for 20.6 of the 98.4 quadrillion Btu of energy consumed in the US).

    I realize he probably meant to say “electricity” rather than “energy”, but even then, coal represents only about 43% of our electricity production and EIA projects that number will drop to 40% by the time he’s up for re-election. Just thought you should know.

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Perhaps you could help out Sen. Manchin’s aides by providing a link or citation for this particular statistic?

    “… coal represents just over 20% of US energy consumption…”

    (As you know the comment section rules for Coal Tattoo, , clearly state “Please provide links or citations to published material to back up your views, when appropriate.” When you’re saying someone else got their numbers wrong, it’s appropriate to provide other readers your source, so they can check out the numbers for themselves).

    Thanks, Ken.

  4. Matt Wasson says:

    You bet, Ken – there are a number of reports the EIA provides that have these numbers, but here’s the one I used for the 2011 numbers:

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