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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Attack on coal is attack on Hoosier economy

Sunday, November 18, 2012

During his 2008 presidential campaign, then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama outlined his vision for the coal industry in America.

In January of that year, he told the San Francisco Chronicle in an interview, "If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."

Since his first day in office, President Obama has ushered in a new wave of regulations designed to target -- and effectively bankrupt -- the nation's coal industry.

Unfortunately for Hoosiers, Indiana is a state with robust coal production.

In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), our state is among the top 10 coal producing states in the nation, averaging 32-35 million tons each year.

Additionally, in 2009, the National Mining Association ranked Indiana third in the nation for coal use, largely because coal is the supplier of virtually all of our state's energy needs. According to the EIA, in 2011, coal provided 83 percent of Indiana's net electric power generation.

All of Indiana's current coal-mining operations are located in the southwest part of the state -- the area we call home.

Residents in our community rely on coal not only to light their houses and businesses, but to put food on the table.

According to the National Mining Association, Indiana coal mines employ 3,342 workers.

That is the eighth highest number of coal mine workers in the nation.

Direct and indirect employment generated by coal mining in Indiana accounts for 19,230 jobs and a combined payroll of $850 million

An attack on coal is truly an attack on our region and on Indiana as a whole.

President Obama's re-election only deepens my concerns about the effects his war on coal will have on Indiana.

New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are likely to take effect during the next few years and, together, will have a dramatic impact on Indiana's coal industry.

These regulations include the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, greenhouse gas regulations and cooling water regulations.

The EPA has also pledged to implement national regulations on coal-burning waste, which would likely end coal burning in new power plants.

All of these policies directly affect the coal industry, and they all carry a daunting price tag.

The cost of implementing these regulations will be crippling to coal companies, and borne largely by electric utilities that will have to pay higher prices for their coal.

Because of Indiana's heavy reliance on coal as a fuel source for electricity, our state is expected to experience larger price increases than even those projected on a regional or national level.

According to the Indiana Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor, complying with these regulations could cost Indiana's five large investor-owned electric utilities a total of up to $11.5 billion.

Utility companies won't be able to absorb the entirety of those costs, leaving Hoosier consumers to pick up the slack.

You can bet our utility rates will see significant increases in the coming years.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the day after Obama's election, stocks of several coal companies fell dramatically.

This was no surprise.

During the next four years, we will likely see a massive roll-out of burdensome new mandates with profound consequences to Indiana's coal industry.

Coal was first discovered in what is now Indiana in 1736.

Today, it is one of Indiana's most valuable resources and an instrumental part of the Hoosier economy.

You can be sure I will be a voice in the Indiana General Assembly for all those hard-working Hoosiers employed by our coal industry.

Our workers, our jobs, and the livelihood of our region are all causes worth defending.