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Story by the Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville may be focused on renewable energy, electric vehicles and natural gas, but at the Florida Energy Summit, the keynote address was on how all forms of energy — including coal and other forms of fossil fuels — can be used to the U.S.’s benefit.

The guest speaker, Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, emphasized that the U.S. is not an energy poor country.

“The U.S. has diverse energy sources,” Guith said. “Eighty-one percent of which are fossil fuels.” He added that by 2040, figures show that the U.S. will have the same dependance on fossil fuels, and U.S. energy demand will increase 9 percent.

Using technology available today, Guith said the U.S. has natural gas to last for 120 years, oil to last for 206 years and coal to last for 464 years.

Assuming technology improves over time, Guith said those numbers increase substantially: The U.S. will have enough natural gas to last for 586 years, oil for 536 years and nearly 10,000 years of coal usage left.

Guith discussed the Clean Power Plan, a program that establishes carbon emission standards for power plants. Guith criticized the plan for its complicated red tape and for calling for reduced emissions too rapidly for the power plants to keep up with, resulting in closures. He also said that nuclear power and natural gas were under-represented in the plan.

In Jacksonville, much of the focus for developing energy has been not on coal, but on creating a natural gas hub. Organizations like Jax Chamber and its transportation and energy group, Jax Alliance, have vocally supported natural gas-related businesses.

Although it may seem surprising that the speaker of honor at the Florida Energy Summit, co-hosted by Jax Chamber, would be such a coal advocate, Alan Mosley, director of Jax Alliance, said the chamber supports the entire portfolio of energy sources.

“We just want to do things in an effective and environmentally-conscoius way,” Mosley said. “We want to keep the economy going…. It’s in national best interest to keep our energy sources diverse. And we have to use coal and fossil fuels responsibility, because they are part of our life.”