During crisis, coal industry remains vital to economy
The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on nearly every sector of our economy and the coal industry is no different. In this most challenging time, it’s vital that this essential industry is provided the flexibility and support it needs to continue producing the fuel that remains the foundation for our power grid while maintaining its place as an irreplaceable cog of our state’s economy.
As our lawmakers both at the state and federal level move to respond to the crisis – with action to address the spread of the virus and to keep essential industries running – the mining industry should be made a priority.
Coal provides roughly a quarter of the nation’s power and in many states far, far more. The nation needs its coal plants and its coal miners, and now the industry needs thoughtful support from government to help it weather this storm.
As global supply chains are interrupted, we are reminded of the value of having a secure, reliable, domestic supply of energy. The coal industry’s future should not be left to chance.
Smart support that ensures mines and their supply chain can stay operational is critical. Mines, as well as the power plants they supply and the industries that move coal from mine to plant, such as our barges and railroads, need to be viewed together as essential infrastructure.
In addition, the coal mining industry has asked for – and should receive – a reduced regulatory and tax burden in the months ahead to ensure its viability. As states have locked down and economic activity has fallen to a lower gear, electricity demand has fallen as well. It may continue to fall or remain below regular levels for months to come. These near-term conditions in our electricity markets should not be allowed to upend the energy mix and energy supply chain we know we need in the years ahead.
We must have a robust coal industry to provide the on-demand, affordable, fuel-secure power our economy is built upon. Time and again, coal power has come to the rescue to provide reliable power when other sources of energy couldn’t answer the bell.
Short-term flexibility and relief for the industry will not only ensure we can preserve the cornerstone of the electricity grid but it will also ensure companies can keep their miners and support industries working.
The coal mining industry employs 116,000 Americans directly and 289,000 others indirectly who play an integral role in every facet of mining operations. This is an industry, and good jobs, we cannot afford to let slip away.
This crisis is a test and with smart policy we can ensure American industry – including the coal industry – comes out the other side even stronger. But to pass it we must help essential industries navigate the challenge. The easiest jobs to create are jobs never lost.
Partisan preferences over favorite industries and energy sources must be put aside in favor of the greater good. Effective leadership in Washington and at the state house will ensure the coal industry can remain a vital piece of our energy and economic engine.
Michael D. Cope, President
The Ohio Coal Association