Cheapest source of energy. It is by far cheaper than nuclear, natural gas, oil. Hydro usually will be slightly cheaper. However, problems with hydro include: no new facilities because of public outcry when river valleys are dammed; and, peak demand time problems (rivers running dry in the dead of summer when peak air conditioning is needed and rivers are frozen in the dead of winter when peak heating is needed).
Coal also provides a stable source of energy (no Arab oil embargoes, no sudden scarcity like you experience with natural gas) and there is a very plentiful supply both in the U.S. and in other foreign countries.
Coal is nothing more than ancient wood which has been under pressure for millions of years. It is not sinister as you may have been led to believe.
Coal provides many jobs. Unlike other forms of energy (nuclear, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric), coal provides many jobs in removing coal from the earth, transporting it to the utility, burning it, and properly disposing of coal ash.
Coal is American made. We do not have to import this product into this country.
Coal can be mined and burned with little environmental impact. There has been tremendous strides in environmental responsibility with mining coal and burning coal. However, there still is pressure of global warming. If we burn less fossil fuels, what, as a practical matter, is our energy alternative? Nuclear? Hydro? Solar (there is no practical way to provide the massive amounts of electricity needed to run our country through solar energy---it is viewed as impractical at this time)?
Coal mining reclamation can give the surface landowner many more options for developing his land. In the mountainous terrain, a mining process call mountaintop removal can create very valuable and useable level land for the surface owner. The surface owner not only gets his land developed, he usually is paid 50 cents a ton for the inconvenience of the use of his surface. Surface mining cannot occur without the specific consent of the surface owner. If the surface owner is lucky enough to own the coal rights, he's looking at another $2.00 a ton for royalty payments. In 1977 the federal Surface Mining Law was passed that required coal operators to reclaim the land in an equal, if not better, condition that existed prior to mining. We're doing an excellent job with our reclamation efforts. I would suggest that you go to http://www.osmre.gov/. This is the web site of the federal agency that oversees coal mining from an environmental standpoint.
The prudent us of coal will allow the U. S. the time needed to develop viable alternative energy sources---primarily solar technology and fuel from grain---without any negative impact on our national economy.
Coal provides 56% of the electricity used in the nation each day. It provides 95% of Kentucky's electricity. Electrical rates in Kentucky are the second lowest in the nation---because of coal.
Coal is good for Kentucky's economy. The Kentucky coal industry brought $3.1 billion into Kentucky from out-of-state during Fiscal Year 1996-97 through coal sales to customers in 29 other states and 15 foreign countries. In Kentucky, it paid over $800 million in direct wages, directly employing over 19,000 persons and indirectly providing an additional 60,000 jobs. In addition to all the normal business taxes, the coal industry in Kentucky paid an additional $160 million in severance taxes to the state.