This past year, Peabody noted, coal generation rebounded 5% due to lower costs, while gas generation fell 11% despite a much-heralded boom in North America. Such affordability is crucial when a record 115 million Americans qualify for energy assistance — among them, 48 million who suffer from poverty and stagnating wages. More than 50% of Americans, moreover, have reported that a $20 increase in their utility bills would create hardship.

In a statement, Peabody also encouraged Washington to rethink carbon plans further increasing energy prices — in effect, it said, it would be a regressive tax hurting those with low and fixed incomes the most.

The path to economic and environmental sustainability is grounded in “supercritical” generation, noted company officials — the best off-the-shelf technology available in America. Each large, new advanced coal plant delivers equivalent carbon benefits of removing 1 million cars from the road, Peabody added. A recent study on carbon’s social costs, meanwhile, has concluded fossil fuel energy benefits far outweigh so-called carbon costs by 50 to 500 times, noted Peabody company representatives — all based on empirical data, not modeled predictions.