Coal assails Obama’s Power Africa pledge

President Obama’s pledge to boost funding for his Power Africa initiative appears out of line with the administration’s energy policies, the coal industry charged Wednesday. 

A day after Obama announced plans to increase annual U.S. spending for the project to $300 million, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) called into question the “efficacy” of the commitment, given the president’s efforts to crack down on coal plant pollution.

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“The president’s pledge to eradicate coal use both here and abroad undermines U.S. efforts to do good in the world and also stymies the hope of progress all over the globe,” ACCCE President Mike Duncan said.

“Unfortunately, the president’s newest quest to bring his costly climate agenda onto the global scale will quash any opportunity for meaningful economic prosperity in Africa and the rest of the developing world,” he added.

The U.S. spending increase is part of $12 billion in new private sector and government commitments for Power Africa, bringing the year-old initiative’s total funding to $26 billion. 

The program aims to add 30,000 megawatts of additional capacity and expand access to electricity to at least 60 million households and businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But the ACCCE said the plan is difficult to reconcile with the president’s climate change initiative, which includes proposed regulations on power plant emissions that critics say will decimate the coal industry. 

On the global front, the Obama administration announced in October it would begin opposing public financing for coal projects in all but the world's poorest countries unless they meet standards on par with tough new proposed regulations for any new coal plants in the United States.

The U.S. would seek to block overseas projects with its sway on the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. 

But Duncan argued that coal and other low-cost fuel sources are crucial to “lifting billions of global citizens out of poverty.”

“Coal has powered three industrial revolutions here in the U.S. and can play a significant role in providing energy to hospitals, manufacturing plants, water purifying and sanitation facilities and individual homes throughout Africa,” he said.