An advocate for the coal industry who was supposed to be in Des Moines Thursday didn’t make it after trouble getting his flight. Joe Lucas, the senior vice president for communications for "American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity ," talked with Radio Iowa via phone.
Lucas says the key thing they are focusing on now as the U.S. Senate begins working on the climate change bill is constructing a policy to reduce emissions while continuing to "protect access to affordable reliable" energy and increase energy independence. Lucas says Iowa is a target because 76% of the state’s electricity is generated by coal.
Lucas says environmental concerns are a part of the bigger equation. He uses his problem in getting a flight to Des Moines as an example. "I don’t think any of us would want to see our electricity system be as unreliable as our airlines are today," Lucas says. He says the issue is about cost, energy security, reliability and the environment, and finding a solution that takes into account all four factors is harder than people think.
Iowa has increased the amount of electricity the state generates from wind power, and Lucas says those who support coal think that’s good. Lucas says: "One of the things that upsets me is when people try to act as if energy resources are competitors, they’re not. In many cases they are complimentary of each other." Lucas says each energy source has a place in the equation.
He says wind power is used to meet peaking demand because it is wind is an intermittent power source that only produces when the wind blows. Lucas says coal is a "baseload" energy that is always there, so the idea that coal could be replaced by wind doesn’t match with the way we use energy. He says we need wind, coal and other sources of energy.
Lucas says we need to move forward and continue to use technology to make coal burn cleaner, and says improvements have already been made. Lucas says Iowans should stay in touch with lawmakers as the climate change bill moves forward.