NPR produced a story yesterday about the fight over electricity fuel market share between natural gas and coal. Interestingly enough, both fuels have been extracted for many years from the same area in Northern Colorado. The NPR story provides some voices of real people that share their views of the effects of the market battle on their way of life.
Mr. DOYLE MANN (Employee, Peabody Colorado Coal): Because we have a vast amount of coal reserves just right here in Northwest Colorado.
SIEGLER: Seated in their modest kitchen in Craig, Tisha and Doyle Mann say the natural gas companies have come and gone over the years. Many of this area’s gas rigs recently moved to new finds in the Northeast. So they feel lucky that Doyle has a steady job working underground at Peabody Coal’s mine nearby.
Ms. MANN: This is our way of life, you know. This is what we came to Craig for. It’s made us a good living. It’s made a good family. We’re – I’d hate to see, you know, any of that go away.
If you are interested in an inside view from a convention of natural gas supporters, please take the time to watch the video titled COLORADO CLEAN AIR-CLEAN JOBS ACT PANEL that is available at the Energy Epicenter 2010 web site.
Make no mistake, only part of the underlying motives in this battle have anything to do with the effect on the environment. A major part of the effort has been all about ensuring that there is sufficient market demand for natural gas to keep the prices high enough to support an extremely profitable industry that often treats its hosts a bit like the way insensitive young guys treat women they meet at a bar.
For all of its environmental challenges – many of which can be overcome with application of known technology – coal is more like the steady fellow who meets his girl at a community picnic and makes a lifelong commitment.
The NPR story contains a warning for all those who earn a steady living from coal and for the communities that the coal mines have built in the 150 years years that it has been a major fuel source in the United States.
SIEGLER: Environmentalists, who have long fought to shut down coal-fired plants, agree.
Pam Keily of the group Environment Colorado says the impacts to the state’s coal industry will be negligible because most of Colorado’s coal is exported. But she has a broader agenda.
Ms. PAM KEILY (Legislative director, Environment Colorado): What we’re doing in Colorado is a preface to what will hopefully be a national transformation around our electricity sector. And is coal really the answer for the future?
That is music to the natural gas industry’s ears. Thomas Price must be grinning from ear to ear about now.