Coal group asks for local support

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Doug Matheney, representing Count on Coal, a national campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of affordable, reliable coal-generated electricity, made a presentation to Belmont County commissioners?Wednesday.

He asked for Belmont County to demonstrate its support by passing a resolution on behalf of the coal industry, asking that the presidential administration consider a diversity of energy sources including coal.

He referenced a recent speech by President Barack Obama, noting his administration’s intention to do away with coal use in present and future power plants.

“We’re trying to put a stop to this,” Matheney said, noting that a wide range of facilities, organization and municipalities depend on a wide range of energy sources, including coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

He added that technological innovations have made considerable progress in reducing pollution in the burning of coal. In addition, he said coal is vital in producing abundant, low-cost electricity.

“Coal generates 43 percent of the nations power and about 73 percent of the state of Ohio’s electricity,” he said, adding that coal is the nation’s most abundant source of energy, boasting a 250-year supply and a significant job base.

He said the EPA’s proposed new greenhouse gas performance standards would put the price and reliability at risk.

“Don’t do away with our most abundant and cheap source of electricity in the United States,” he said, adding that new technologies such as solar and wind power may become feasible in the future, but it was not the job of government to motivate it.

Commissioner Matt Coffland voiced support and noted the area’s coal background.

“They want to put coal out of business. They have for a long time,” he said, adding that the air has become cleaner and the need for jobs must take precedent. He pointed out the lack of regulations in other countries.

While natural gas carries a great deal of potential in the area, Coffland and Matheney noted the costs and infrastructure needs were not entirely known. Coffland added that every coal job creates seven others.

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