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Mark L. Pierce, Beulah, N.D., Published August 17 2013

Letter: Abandoning coal extremely costly

In an Aug. 13 column in The Forum, Joe Richardson listed a variety of scientific organizations that confirm global warming and criticized the PSC’s Julie Fedorchak for supposedly ignoring such claims. I read Fedorchak’s Aug. 8 column and found no evidence of such denial. She said there is wide dispute over “climate policy” and questioned the wisdom of the administration’s aggressive carbon regulation proposals that provide no future for coal.

These are valid claims and conclusions. And as one of thousands of employees in the North Dakota coal industry, my family and I are grateful she is talking about them. My friends who count on affordable, reliable power are, too.

People who care about reducing carbon emissions should take a cue from Fedorchak and start advocating for reasonable and responsible policies that support investments in clean coal technologies. This country needs to build on the sizable investments in existing power generation facilities, equipment and people who already provide affordable energy to our citizens.

Abandoning coal and all these investments would be extremely costly to all electric rate payers – businesses and individuals – and will have a significant effect on jobs and our economy. This strategy is especially questionable when China and India, who together are responsible for over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, are steadily adding coal-fired power plants and facilities with virtually no emissions control.

Climate scientists continue to debate climate change; a consensus has not been reached. However, if a consensus is reached and a new climate policy is the next necessary step, it certainly demands a long-term, global solution with a sustainable path for all sectors, especially one responsible for generating 40 percent of our nation’s electricity.