Coal Tattoo

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Darren Epps over at SNL Energy has a fascinating little piece out this afternoon about some remarks made by Alpha Natural Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield:

In a wide-ranging keynote address at the CoalTrans USA conference in Miami on Jan. 31, a candid Alpha Natural Resources Inc. Chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said coal will continue to lose market share in the U.S. and the influx of natural gas production is a positive development for the country’s economy.

In opening the event, Crutchfield criticized opponents of fossil fuels but acknowledged some of the rhetoric offered in defense of the coal industry “doesn’t always have the ring of truth.”

Specifically:

“Natural gas and other sources will form a more meaningful share of the domestic market, and coal — even if 2013 sees higher demand here at home — will likely constitute a lesser share in the years to come,” he said. “There was a time we always had a market in the U.S., where we could sell everything we produced. For every ton of American coal, there was an American buyer. We probably won’t see those days again.

“Instead of regretting it, let’s focus on where the need is — throughout much of the rest of the world.”

It’s hard to imagine what Crutchfield could be talking about … maybe this, or this or this? Or even this?

The story continues:

Crutchfield said the U.S. EPA’s New Source Performance Standards are a “de facto ban” on new coal-fired power plants. Regulations on the coal industry, he said, will remain difficult over the next four years “and may well get worse.”

“Things will come into a better balance when gas prices go up, as they surely will, but gas will not go away,” he said. “The share of coal we sell domestically is declining and that trend isn’t going to magically reverse itself. More and more international markets are figuring into the decisions we make and the paths we pursue.”

And:

Crutchfield still offered a criticism of fossil fuel opponents, calling their ideals a “none-of-the-above” energy strategy.

“They don’t have a solution beyond some imagined ideal,” he said. “We only follow the green-brick road, they seem to say, and we will finally arrive at some make-believe place unbound by the laws of physics, science and economics.

“When we talk about an all-of-the-above energy strategy, we actually mean it. It’s not always the easy way and it hasn’t made life at Alpha any easier, but I can promise you this — as long as our standard is the real and best interest for consumers and for the country, it’s hard to go wrong.”

Read the whole thing here.