Consol CEO and president Brett Harvey said that increased regulation of US coal-fired plants could hamper future investment in the industry.

Speaking with Reuters, he said government crackdowns on water pollution and carbon emissions at coal mines were also making it difficult for the industry to attract investment.

The knock-on affect, according to Harvey, could be higher energy prices for US consumers.

“If you do a lot of CO2 legislation, you’re going to end up stopping capital from coming into development of coal supplies, and that will drive the price of coal up to the utilities and in the short term,” Harvey said.

“In the long term I think the cost of energy is going to rise pretty fast in the US.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing permits in West Virginia for surface, or mountaintop mining, which opponents say pollutes natural water systems.

This focus on water means mines have to be even more careful about the discharge of water from drill holes or mine holes.

“Water is going to be … the new air. Remember the ’90s, all the changes in the air regulation aimed at reducing industrial emissions,” Harvey said, highlighting the growing importance of regulation in the space.