By JANET METZNER
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — U.S. Rep David McKinley said exporting American coal to India could be the short-term boost the industry needs until clean-coal technology is inexpensive enough to revive it in the long-term.
McKinley, R-W.Va., said he’s working to strengthen his relationship with government leaders in India to ensure they’ll still use and import U.S. coal, which is that country’s third-largest import.
“I want to promote the continued use of coal globally and see if they’re going to impose regulations that would slow the country’s coal consumption,” he said.
McKinley, who is the chairman of the bipartisan U.S. Congressional Coal Caucus, is set to meet Tuesday with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders to discuss the future of India’s coal imports.
“I want to make sure that they’re going to continue to use coal,” McKinley said. “West Virginia is the largest producer/exporter of coal to India. It’s becoming a huge component of their consumption.”
That consumption — already twice the consumption of the U.S., whose coal consumption is ranked third in the world — could grow even more as the 300 million Indians who don’t yet have electricity become part of the grid, McKinley said.
When McKinley met with Indian leaders two years ago, he said he was assured “they are going to use coal because it is the most affordable way to create energy.” Currently, Indians use coal in “the old-fashioned way,” McKinley said, noting they don’t use many of the environmental controls that increase the cost of burning it.
Meanwhile, the battle to resuscitate the U.S. coal industry continues. On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed legislation overturning the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule that according to opponents subjected longwall mining to unrealistic standards.
McKinley was present Thursday when Trump signed the congressional resolution of disapproval.
“Trump is committed to roll back all these damaging regulations,” McKinley said.
Also at the signing were Robert E. Murray, chairman, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., who brought with him coal miners from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, McKinley said.
“I told (Trump) the coal miners in West Virginia are counting on him to deliver on his promise. He looks at me in the eye and said, ‘I intend to deliver,’ McKinley said.
Also this week, McKinley met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss other regulations he says need to be rolled back to save the coal industry not just in West Virginia, but throughout the country.
“I hope it helps this broad sector of the economy,” McKinley said. “We are moving in the right direction. We have a president embarking in a different direction.”
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