EPA: Coal Not Marketable

WHEELING – Coal, oil and natural gas are unpopular at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris – so much so that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said she and her associates are “pumped up about the work we’re doing.”

Answering questions Thursday while in Paris, McCarthy said the EPA is doing as much as it can to limit not just CO2 and mercury pollution from power plants that burn coal, but also methane emissions associated with the oil and natural gas industries.

“The Clean Power Plan is one of the keystones of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. It has changed everything in the U.S.,” McCarthy said. “It is riding the wave of new solutions and technologies. We are going to show that utilities can do it. We don’t need to make a choice between the environment and the economy. We can build a growing economy, as we have in the U.S., by actually focusing on green, clean solutions.”

McCarthy and Obama claim the plan will, among other things, curb CO2 pollution from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels; prevent 90,000 asthma attacks annually; and create up to $45 billion in “climate and health benefits” per year.

When posed a question about why China continues burning huge amounts of coal, McCarthy said she believes the country will slow its use of coal upon developing new alternatives.

“We now know, however, as China does, that it’s not necessarily the path to the future,” she said. “Coal is no longer marketable.”

However, if coal is difficult to market, Murray Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Robert E. Murray places much of the blame on Obama and McCarthy.

“She has destroyed so many families,” Murray said in reacting to McCarthy’s statements. “It is insensitive, malicious and, frankly, unbelievable that Administrator McCarthy would boast about the U.S. transitioning away from coal as a result of the illegal and destructive policies she has implemented as part of the Obama administration.”

Murray’s coal mining firm employs about 7,000 workers across the U.S., including those at the Century, Powhatan No. 6, Ohio County and Marshall County mines. However, he laid off 754 Upper Ohio Valley workers this year.

“Indeed, prior to the election of Barack Obama as the president, 52 percent of America’s electricity was generated from coal. This percentage is currently 37 percent, and we predict that it will decline to 30 percent of our power generation by the early 2020s,” Murray said. “This a tragedy for America, and Administrator McCarthy’s statements are an insult to these people who only want to work in honor and dignity.”

However, McCarthy made it clear she is also working to limit methane emissions, particularly from oil and natural gas. Methane, the primary component in the product commonly known as natural gas, is 25 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2.

Last year, an unknown amount of methane leaked into the atmosphere over a 10-day period when the wellhead blew off at a Triad Hunter operation in Monroe County.

In addition to targeting methane pollution from oil and natural gas, the EPA is also trying to limit methane emissions from landfills, as well as those associated with agriculture.