#TBT: Decades of Presidents Have Supported Coal-Based Power


Presidents, from JFK to Gerald Ford, have supported coal-based electricity.

Earlier this year on Presidents’ Day, we took a look at what America’s leaders – from both sides of the aisle – had to say about coal-based electricity. With only a few days until voters elect a new president, it’s worth taking another look.

As we noted in February, these seven presidents may have differed in style, but nearly all were of one mind when it came to promoting technology that utilizes America’s abundant natural resources. Party politics aside, these leaders lauded coal’s undeniable benefits and emphasized its place in American energy.

  • Gerald Ford – “Coal represents… [an] immediate and dependable answer to the question of how we solve our energy needs in this Nation. It represents an American answer…our hope for the future. Coal is America’s ace in the hole.”
  • Jimmy Carter asserted his belief in meeting energy challenges with coal, saying “We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world’s highest level of technology…the most skilled work force…with innovative genius.”
  • Ronald Reagan – “Coal offers great potential…and must not be thwarted by a tiny minority opposed to economic growth, which often finds friendly ears in regulatory agencies for its obstructionist campaigns.”
  • George H. W. Bush – “We must…take advantage of our energy sources across the board: coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear.”
  • Bill Clinton, like fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter, had great confidence in clean coal technology, saying “We can [lower]…emissions while using coal as an energy resource. If we led the world to the moon, we…[can] lead the world to clean coal.”
  • George W. Bush emphasized coal’s crucial role in our nation, saying “Coal should be at the heart of America’s energy strategy…it’s critical for job creators, it is critical for the working people. It’s critical for this country.”

These quotes provide a stark contrast with our current president who early-on touted support for coal-based electricity, but has since promulgated a series of ideological regulations to thwart its use. This includes EPA’s costly power plan, which aims to shutter coal-based electricity in favor of more expensive, less reliable energy resources – a risky switch that analysis has concluded will result in electricity price increases in all of the lower 48 states.

In an age where family incomes have become stagnant, but costs continue to increase, voters are concerned with candidates’ plans to protect their access to affordable energy. Low-cost power is a cornerstone of Americans’ daily lives – from making more room in family budgets to helping businesses have the funds needed to hire more people. Our next president must keep these kitchen table issues in mind when crafting energy policies and discontinue the unsavory trend of putting political agendas ahead of powering America.

When assessing the energy outlooks of past presidents, as well as the abundant coal deposits presently at our disposal, it’s clear this fuel has an important role in contributing to America’s energy future. Voters – especially in these 13, coal-reliant battleground states– will surely be considering this and more on Election Day.

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