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The Mesaba Energy Project Will Use an Abundant Domestic Fuel Source

The Mesaba Energy Project's primary fuel source is domestic coal, America's most abundant fuel.

  • Coal is our Nation's most abundant domestic energy resource
  • One quarter of the entire world's known coal supplies are found within the U.S.
  • The U.S. has coal reserves of 267,312 million short tons
  • The U.S. has more than 240 years of technically recoverable coal reserves
  • These coal reserves will last more than 160 years longer than the technically recoverable reserves of domestic oil and domestic natural gas
  • Our nation's recoverable coal has the energy equivalent of about one trillion barrels of crude oilcomparable in energy content to all the world's known oil reserves

Figure 1

The disparity between the longevity and volume of domestic supplies of coal compared to oil and gas is even more pronounced when proven, rather than technically recoverable, reserves are measured.

Figure 2

The Federal government has recognized the numerous benefits attending the use of abundant, domestic coal to meet our national energy needs.

These include:
  • Economic security through low electricity prices
  • Reduced balance of trade deficit
  • Job creation
  • Improved energy security

According to former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, "[c]lean-coal technology will be the key to continuing coal's invaluable contribution to meeting the nation's energy, economic and environmental goals."

In recent years, the critical role of IGCC in ensuring energy security and providing the optimal path towards energy independence has taken the forefront position in energy and environmental policy.

By generating electricity from coal, IGCC can reduce the use of natural gas in the electricity sector. This reduction would free limited natural gas supplies for use in manufacturing and home heating, and allow for substitution of natural gas for imported oil.  In addition, the capability to make transportation fuels, pipeline quality gas and hydrogen from coal offers the promise of reducing Minnesota’s reliance on products priced with reference to record high oil and gas prices.  While the Mesaba Project cannot change global economics, it will allow Minnesota to help move a bad situation in the right direction.

In addition to avoiding dependence on foreign supplies of oil and natural gas, reliance on coal for power generation provides additional supply security due to coal's broad geographic dispersion across the U.S.  Supply of coal is therefore not susceptible to material disruptions in supplies at a single, concentrated source.

Geographic Distribution of United States Coal Deposits
Figure 6

By helping to reduce the need for imported natural gas and petroleum through the use of domestically abundant coal, IGCC facilities such as the Mesaba Energy Project are critical to energy security for Minnesota and to national security.