EPA chief: US needs coal to protect electric grid

EPA chief: US needs coal to protect electric grid
© Getty

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) argued Wednesday that using coal for electricity is necessary for the reliability of the electric grid.

Speaking on Fox Business’s “Varney & Co.,” Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittWith offshore drilling scheme, Trump's America looks like a banana republic Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE warned of the problems of relying too heavily on natural gas, which has increased in use over the last decade as coal has fallen.

Pruitt argued in part that cybersecurity concerns should inspire the country to maintain coal as a significant fuel source.

“Utility companies across this country need fuel diversity. You need solid hydrocarbons on-site that you can store, so when peak demand rises, you’ve got solid hydrocarbons to draw on,” Pruitt told host Charles Payne.

“What would happen if we had an attack on our infrastructure when you’ve diverted to natural gas almost exclusively and you don’t have coal there as a safeguard to preserve the grid?” he asked.

“I mean, it’s a smart strategy for this country to invest in technology and innovation, burn coal, burn natural gas, use renewables, make sure we advance nuclear. But it truly needs to be a part of the fuel diversity with utilities across the country.”

Earlier in his appearance, Pruitt boasted about the United States reducing its greenhouse gas emissions without regulations like the Clean Power Plan. Natural gas replacing coal over the last decade is the primary reason for that reduction.

“We’re leading the world already with our CO2 footprint,” he said. “What’s interesting about the reduction of our CO2 footprint is that it’s been accomplished without any government mandate.”

Pruitt and President Trump have worked on numerous fronts in recent months to push policies that help coal, mainly through working to repeal regulations that harmed the industry.

Trump has repeatedly promised, through his policies, to bring back the coal industry.

“You know what this says?” Trump said to a coal miner in March before signing an executive order to start repealing Obama’s climate regulations. “You’re going back to work.”

Separately, Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Regulators say Perry plan didn’t pass legal muster | Chamber to push for 25-cent gas tax hike | Energy expert sees US becoming 'undisputed leader' in oil, gas Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals Energy regulators: Perry’s coal plan wasn’t legally defensible MORE has commissioned a study to examine whether renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power threaten grid reliability at the expense of coal and nuclear.