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IHS CERAWEEK: Peabody CEO blasts US policies, proposes path to low-carbon future

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Houston — Peabody Energy's outgoing CEO Gregory Boyce said "America has lost its way" when it comes to energy policies, particularly those affecting coal-fired power generation, and presented an alternate five-point plan to a low-carbon energy future during a presentation Thursday at IHS CERAWeek in Houston.

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Boyce, who will step down from his post effective May 4 but stay on at Peabody as executive chairman of the board, focused his comments at the energy conference on how the drop in coal burn at US power plants has raised electricity prices so much that some families are "struggling to pay for their power." He said current energy policies address a perceived "environmental crisis," but a lack of clean and affordable power is really a "human crisis," and coal is "essential" to keep electricity costs low and power reliable and available.

Boyce said about 100 million Americans, about a third of the country's population, qualify for energy assistance to pay their bills, and those bills will rise as coal's use for generation drops in the coming years.

Referring to the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, Boyce said it would be an "understatement to call the plan all pain and no gain."

Boyce outlined a five five-point plan as a policy path toward a low-carbon energy future:

* Recognize the impact of energy policy on all citizens and the importance of keeping energy available, reliable and affordable.

* Embrace a true all-of-the-above energy strategy that recognizes quantifiable benefits and limitations for each fuel alternative.

* Support continued investment in clean coal technologies to minimize emissions and drive down costs.

* Promote development bank funding to expand broad electricity access in emerging markets.

* Accelerate development of next-generation carbon capture utilization and storage technologies to achieve emission reductions.

Boyce was persistent in his support of current emissions technology's effectiveness at power plants in reducing carbon, particulates and other pollution. He added that investment in carbon capture is key for the future of coal and natural gas, as energy policies will eventually call to cut emissions from both fossil fuels.

"I firmly believe that technology has solved every one of our major environmental problems," Boyce said.

--Jim Levesque,
--Edited by Jason Lindquist,