CEO: Voters Must Keep Coal in Mind

If you want to keep the economy strong, you need to vote for someone who recognizes the value of coal in producing low-cost electricity, an industry official said.

“Elections have consequences. For America to have a bright future, coal has to have a bright future,” said Mike Duncan, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Coal provides lower-cost electricity to people.”

Group members said it is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the use of coal, which it states keeps electricity affordable and reliable for millions of American families and businesses.

“We do not endorse candidates, but we do educate people,” said Duncan regarding whether his organization supports Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or Democratic President Barack Obama. “We are very pleased to hear that Gov. Romney likes coal. Unfortunately, President Obama has not mentioned coal. People need to know that coal equals jobs.”

Despite the emergence of natural gas drawn from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations as a potential alternative to coal in generating electricity, Duncan said his industry does not see natural gas as competition. He said gas and coal are both part of the solution to America’s energy problems.

“The gas from the shale formations adds to the amount of gas in the market, which drops the price of gas. This makes them more competitive, but coal will always be competitive,” Duncan said.

This summer, Murray Energy Corp., parent company of the American Energy Corp. Century Mine, cut or relocated 56 workers with the closure of the Red Bird West mine near Brilliant. Murray Energy founder Robert Murray also cut 29 mining jobs from The Ohio Valley Coal Co.’s Powhatan No. 6 Mine. All of this was done, Robert Murray said, because of Obama’s “war on coal.”

Recently, coal miners at the American Energy Corp. Century Mine said they wanted Obama to stop what they term the “war on coal” – and to stop spreading “mistruths” about them.

Murray hosted a Romney campaign stop in Beallsville in August, during which many miners appeared behind Romney as the former Massachusetts governor spoke about the need to protect coal mining jobs. In response to the assertion some have made about the miners being forced to appear with Romney, the miners made the following points:

– no employee was forced to attend the event;

– there were no attendance records taken for hourly employees;

– there were absolutely no penalties or reprimands to those who did not attend;

– due to security concerns for the Romney campaign, there was a list for transportation purposes; and

– that they were “honored” to host Romney at the mine.

“I doubt very seriously those miners were forced to appear there,” Duncan said. “There is a groundswell of support to protect the way of life in ‘Coal Country.'”