GILLETTE - The executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, Marion Loomis, said he doesn't expect coal-fired power plants in Wyoming to shut down after Barack Obama becomes president next year.
"No, I don't think the coal industry in Wyoming, and the utilities that rely on it, are going to be shutting down coal-fired power plants," Loomis said.
The day before the election, National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn issued a statement saying that bankrupting coal would bankrupt the U.S. economy.
"Coal generates half of our nation's electricity, employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and provides millions of dollars in revenue to coal states," Quinn said in the statement.
Quinn referred to a January interview that Obama had with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in asserting that Obama's plan to fight climate change would "bankrupt U.S. coal."
"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," the newspaper quoted Obama as saying.
Since the election, National Mining Association has called for a bipartisan approach to fighting climate change.
"We're hopeful that there will be bipartisan cooperation, because I know people expect things to get done. Some of the more extreme environmental wish list will be cast out the window and we'll start with real work because people need jobs and energy security," Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, said Friday.
Obama also said in the Chronicle interview that the key to coal power will be figuring out how to use coal without emitting greenhouse gases.
"This notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion because the fact of the matter is that right now we are getting a lot of energy from coal, and China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is we have to figure out 'How can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases?' " Obama was quoted as saying.
Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., both endorsed a "cap and trade" system for fighting global warming. Under such a system, companies and utilities that on the whole increase atmospheric greenhouse gases could buy the right to emit those gases from companies that on the whole reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Popovich said his organization also supports cap and trade.
"Our point, simply, is when we do that, let's make sure it does not lead to unacceptable economic harm," he said.
The issue is a critical one in Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state.
Loomis said his organization viewed McCain as more of a proponent of coal and clean-coal technology. But he doesn't expect the Obama administration, or the Democratic-controlled Congress, to be the demise of Wyoming's coal industry.
"I don't think anybody is going to rule out coal," Loomis said.