The head of the United Mine Workers of America gave a big hug to his coal-state lawmakers, boasting about how Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) had pushed the union's plan for lots of free pollution allowances into the House climate bill to keep U.S. utilities burning coal for years to come.
As we reported earlier this week, a read of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, with all its freebies to utilities and other compromises to buy coal-state votes, now promises the coal industry a bright, competitive future.
UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts clearly agrees. Here's the statement he issued about the bill, being debated today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee:
"Coal is America's most abundant energy resource. We have more coal than any nation on earth. As the debate over climate change has evolved over the past two decades, we have not only insisted on the preservation of coal mining jobs, but argued as well for the essential part that coal plays in sustaining our national economy and ensuring our independence from foreign oil.
"While we still have concerns about this legislation, it contains many items that Rep. Boucher and others worked hard to attain and which we support, including over $100 billion to advance and deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
"The bill also includes our recommendation for allowances to be given to utilities to permit the continued burning of coal, which should ensure that coal's market share will remain constant throughout the period required to develop and deploy CCS technology. With 2 billion in allowances for offsets, coal should remain a major part of the nation's power generating mix. In addition, these allowances will protect consumers from large increases in their power bills.
"Although utilities are obviously the largest customer for coal, the steel industry ranks second. This bill allows steel to remain a major part of the economy, as well as the metallurgical coal mines that supply the nation's furnaces.
"Rep. Boucher and others in Congress have fought hard to protect the interests of coal miners and all working families. We look forward to working closely with him as the legislation moves through the legislative process."