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The coal industry will suffer the same fate as Osama bin Laden under new climate regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of the United Mine Workers of America said this week.
“The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” Cecil Roberts, president of the powerful union, said during an interview Tuesday on the West Virginia radio show MetroNews Talkline.
Roberts blasted Jackson, the EPA administrator, over the proposed regulations, which would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Opponents of the regulations, including Roberts, say the new rules would be the death knell of the coal industry.
New coal-fired power plants would have to install technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions in order to comply with the rules. The technology, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), “is not commercially available,” Roberts said.
“This rule is an all-out, in my opinion, decision by the EPA that we’re never going to have another coal-fired facility in the United States that’s constructed,” Roberts said.
The union chief used colorful language to underscore his point.
Coal power in the United States accounted for 42% of the country's electricity production in 2011. Utilities buy more than 90 percent of the coal mined in the United States.
In 2009, there were 1436 coal-powered units at the electrical utilities across the US, with the total nominal capacity of 338.732 GW (compared to 1024 units at nominal 278 GW in 2000). The actual average generated power from coal in 2006 was 227.1 GW (1.991 trillion kilowatt-hours per year), the highest in the world and still slightly ahead of China (1.95 trillion kilowatt-hours per year) at that time. Back in 2000, the US average production of electricity from coal was 224.3 GW (1.966 trillion kilowatt-hours per year). In 2006, the U.S. consumed 1,026,636,000 short tons (931,349,000 metric tons) or 92.3% of coal for electricity generation.[7