Coal Bill Protects Energy Security, Lower Rates

In recent years, the Obama Administration has attempted to limit access to affordable energy sources, such as coal and gas. As a result, Arkansas families have experienced skyrocketing energy costs at the pump and in their electricity bills.

For years, America has relied upon a mix of energy to power our homes, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energies. Access to a variety of energy sources has allowed electric providers to keep costs low by spreading out demand, and investing in infrastructure that’s responsive to market conditions. It also provides energy security where we don’t have to rely on importing foreign energy sources, but instead we can focus on cultivating our resources right here in the United States.

This past winter provided an excellent example of what happens when limited resources face stronger demand. Arkansas saw its coldest winter in 20 years, resulting in higher-than-normal electric usage and bills. According to the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, our state’s rural electric providers rely on coal to provide energy up to a certain point. Natural gas supplements coal consumption as an alternative energy source. This winter, unseasonably cold temperatures caused a spike in energy usage, meaning energy providers have relied more heavily upon natural gas. Because of the increased demand, natural gas prices have risen nearly 50 percent within the past year, resulting in substantially higher electric bills for consumers.

In the middle of a time when Americans are facing expensive electricity bills, the President has continued to wage war against energy’s first line of defense: coal. Government policies even include limiting the use of clean coal, which greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions when burned for electrical purposes.

The President’s war on coal has led to expensive regulations that will continue to make electricity rates more expensive for every American. Just by rewriting coal mining regulations, the Administration has spent nearly $10 million to change a 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule with nothing to show for its efforts. In addition, it stands ready to spend millions more should Congress not take action.

Fortunately, the House recently passed the “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act,” which stops the federal government from wasting taxpayers’ money over this issue while also protecting the 7,000 coal-mining jobs in the U.S.

If these workers ever found themselves without employment, the U.S. would find itself in dire need of a reliable energy source, and consumers would find themselves unable to stomach the massive electric bills in their mailboxes. Arkansas citizens rely daily upon coal-fired plants to provide heating, cooling, and electricity. In fact, more than 50 percent of our energy comes from coal-fired plants.

In response to skyrocketing energy costs, the United States Senate and the President should follow the House’s lead by taking sensible actions that cultivate American energy resources, while protecting the wallets of our citizens.

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