Coal Supporters Rally In Washington While Report Questions U.S. Coal Supply

Oct 30, 2013

Thousands of coal miners gathered at the Capitol in Washington Tuesday to rally against Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

But the demonstration comes the same week a new report claims estimates of economically recoverable coal are overly optimistic.

"The war on coal is a war on all of Kentucky and I like to remind people that even if you don't live in a county that has coal jobs, you do turn the lights on," Sen. Mitch McConnell told the crowd at Count on Coal's Rally for American Energy Jobs this week.

The charge: Strict EPA regulations are siphoning jobs from Kentucky, West Virginia, and other coal producing states. The rally was held as a House panel convened a hearing on the impact of new restrictions on coal-fired power plants.

While critics of that view often point to the rise of natural gas as another important factor in the decline of coal, the environmental group Clean Energy Action says, even if restrictions on mining are loosened, the amount of coal that’s economically feasible to extract is far less than estimated.

"Contrary to common belief, America does not have 200 years in coal reserves," says Leslie Glustrom, author of the report.

That 200-year figure comes from the federal Energy Information Administration, but Clean Energy Action says much of that coal is likely to remain underground if companies can’t make a profit mining it.