Monday, October 8, 2012
Illinois Coal Group Favors Romney
When it comes to Illinois coal, a lot is riding on the outcome of the November presidential election between Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. “Obama’s record to us is quite clear. He’s no friend of coal,” said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association, a Springfield-based group that promotes Illinois coal.
Romney brought up coal during last week's presidential debate, which focused on domestic policy, saying he supports the industry. “People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies,” he said.
Coal, once king in Obama’s home state of Illinois, has been in a slump for decades because of tightening environmental regulations. Illinois coal is “dirty,” or high in sulfur. Amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 required power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, which essentially meant they had to install expensive “scrubbing” equipment or get their coal from other states, such as Wyoming, where the sulfur content is low. Illinois coal production was cut in half, and mining jobs dwindled from 10,000 to 3,500.
However, coal is making a comeback in the Land of Lincoln, Gonet said, because it has become more economical for some power plants to install scrubbers and burn Illinois coal. In 2011, 85 percent of the coal produced in Illinois went out of state. Coal production nationwide is down, but it’s on the rise in the Illinois Basin, a region that includes Illinois, western Indiana and western Kentucky. More Illinois coal is going out of the country, too. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, about 7 million tons of coal, was exported in 2011.
“That’s why this election is so critical, because Obama has regulations out there that will make it harder for us to not only mine coal but to send it out of the country,” Gonet said.
You can read Jayette's full report at: http://watchdog.org/58091/il-struggling-illinois-coal-industry-excited-about-romney/