Washington, D.C. – The Energy Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine coal-related technology challenges and opportunities, with an emphasis on enhancing the impact of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development (R&D) activities.

Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.): “Coal is of critical importance to the United States.  Since the founding of our country, through Thomas Edison’s construction of the world’s first electric power plant in 1892, and continuing still today, coal has led the way in enabling the enormous improvements to Americans’ health and well-being. Rarely, however, has such a beneficial, life-improving resource upon which society depends been under such hostile attack. Adding injury to insult, this attack is being led by our own President.  In 2008, President Obama boasted on the campaign trail that his policies would ‘necessarily bankrupt’ any company that wanted to build a coal-fired power plant. Unfortunately, this is one campaign promise that the President appears determined to keep.”

Coal currently generates approximately 40 percent of U.S. electricity, down from just under 50 percent in recent years. The Energy Information Administration projects nationwide demand for electricity will increase 28 percent through 2040, with coal’s share of electric generation continuing to be the largest source of electricity production.

In recent decades, steady improvements to coal-related generation technologies, some developed with the assistance of DOE’s coal research and development activities, have contributed significantly to increased efficiencies at power plants, a reduction of pollutant emissions and reductions in water usage. In fiscal year 2013, DOE’s budget for coal research, development and demonstration activities is $370 million. This funding is spent almost exclusively on developing carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

On June 25, President Obama directed the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. These new regulations are in addition to a plethora of other recent and pending costly regulations detrimental to coal use.

Chairman Lummis: “Even if the President were successful in his quest to eliminate all U.S. coal-fired power plants, any potential reductions to projected global warming would be more than overtaken by global emissions growth.  China continues to build a coal plant a week and global coal demand is projected to continue to grow significantly over the next half century, regardless of U.S. domestic policy.”

The following witnesses testified at the hearing:

Mr. Chris Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Department of Energy

Mr. Ben Yamagata, Executive Director, Coal Utilization Research Council

Mr. Don Collins, Chief Executive Officer, Western Research Institute

Ms. Judi Greenwald, Vice President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions