Last week, thousands of mining professionals gathered in Phoenix for the annual conference of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME). The theme of the keynote session was Energy is Everything and it kicked off with a video from CONSOL Energy’s NotSoFast campaign, followed by a presentation from Alex Epstein, an advocate for continued fossil fuel use. Epstein moderated a panel discussion that included Bradford Crabtree, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management; Jimmy Brock, CEO, CONSOL Energy; and Jimmy Staton, president and CEO, Santee Cooper.

Arizona is copper country and many metal miners have embraced the green transition and the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. At times, the discussion became contentious as one would imagine. Grid reliability has become a concern as electricity demand climbs and permitting delays prolong timelines for transmission lines, natural gas pipelines and even renewable energy projects.

CONSOL Energy said its NotSoFast campaign underscores the importance of a measured approach to the energy transition, emphasizing the continued relevance of coal and fossil fuels in a balanced and realistic energy strategy. Brock explained that, while the 2050 goal is admirable, the U.S. needs to take a pragmatic approach to the energy transition that doesn’t put reliability at risk.

Daniel Connell, senior vice president for CONSOL Innovations and Jacqueline Fidler, vice president-environmental and sustainability for CONSOL Energy co-presented, NotSoFast: The Continuing Role of Coal in a Sustainable Future, which they said aligned with the conference’s theme of innovation and sustainability.

For their collective efforts in this regard, the SME Coal Division presented CONSOL Energy with the Robert E. Murray Innovation Award, which recognizes a company or a person for its contributions to the mining industry through technical innovation and the advancement of coal’s role in a sustainable energy future.