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Energy Regulation: Coal and the Environment

December 10, 2013 3 minute Read by Brett McCormick

As part of our ongoing review of the September 12 energy conference, brief summaries of the second-session panels, which ran concurrently, can be found below.  Videos of the panels can be found by clicking on the titles.

Panel II-A: The Future of Coal Regulation

The second panel of the day was led by Bruce Bullock, the Director of SMU’s Maguire Energy Institute. Highlighting the panel was Joe Craft, CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, L.P., who discussed on a micro level how his company has grown and prospered in the face of mounting regulations. Adding a macro perspective, Mac McFarland, CEO of Luminant Energy, outlined two threats to the coal industry: (1) environmental regulation, and (2) the emergence of natural gas as an alternative to coal. Beginning with the latter, McFarland stressed that while coal may eventually be replaced by natural gas, it is vital that the two industries be able to compete on a level playing field, with fair, across-the-board regulation. As to the former, McFarland noted that new regulation needs to be achievable and implemented according to a reasonable timeline that allows companies to come into compliance.

Panel II-B: Green or Growing?

Although titled “Green or Growing?,” this panel actually tackled the question of whether an economy can be green and growing. Moderated by Terry Anderson, President of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), the panel turned to Dino Falaschetti to tackle the misconception that environmental and economic growth goals are mutually exclusive. Falaschetti stated that one way to grow an economy is by producing more with less. Likewise, being sustainable can also be defined as making more with less. Therefore, he believes, economic growth is inherently green. Although growth is often a driver for environmental improvements, Falaschetti has found that the domestic GDP may be reduced by as much as 0.4% for every $100 billion spent on green subsidies. Compounded over generations, this growth shortfall has major implications for future American prosperity.

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