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I read with interest the Oct. 28 Forum piece "Will It All Come Down to Coal?" and found it very worthy of consideration. The timing was unfortunate as it appeared during an election fight. Rather, this issue and other energy policies are quite basic to our national well-being and deserve nonpartisan consideration.
What about miners on political TV ads complaining about new regulations? Their point was quite valid. In 2011, there were more than 8,000 people employed in Pennsylvania mining. Average wages were about $73,000 annually. That equals about one-half billion dollars in earnings. With a weak economy, can that be ignored?
Another issue was carbon dioxide and global warming. According to the BP energy review, our nation accounted for 13.5 percent of the world's coal consumption. China consumed 49.4 percent and India 7.9 percent of the world's coal, over four times our usage.
Natural gas is given as the answer. With current prices under $4/mmBtu it is an option for electric generation. But, for how long? The United States will become an exporter of natural gas within five to seven years -- as much as 10 percent of domestic production. This will surely impact price.
Both solar and wind are mentioned in the article. Most experts see wind power as a more realistic renewable resource. Yet, how do you store electricity? And given our environmental laws new hydroelectric plants are not a current option, though widely embraced elsewhere.
The coal article is a good start. What is really needed is a full review of our country's policies on energy, the environment and the economy -- one committed to honesty. If we increase our energy costs while competing nations don't, what's the impact on our economy? If we do nothing, what future weather problems are we inviting?
This is the time for statesmen to put the country above politics.
First Published November 13, 2012 12:00 am