Political Theater vs Stark Reality

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:10 am, June 25, 2015

Two years ago, President Obama stood outside on a typical, swampy summer day in D.C. to announce the launch of his Climate Action Plan. Giving the speech outdoors, where the White House knew those in the audience and media would soon be drenched in sweat, demonstrated the dramatic showmanship the President is willing to go to peddle his climate crusade to the American people.

Unfortunately for millions of American families the president’s agenda isn’t just theater but an all-out quest to curtail the use of coal-based electricity, which currently provides nearly 40 percent of America’s power.  No one is sure where his quest will ultimately end, but we know the result if it isn’t halted – less reliable, more expensive energy.

As energy costs go up and already struggling families attempt to navigate which bills to pay to keep the lights on or whether they can afford their favorite Chinese takeout, the reality of the President’s message to them will kick in: You Choose – #LightsOrLoMein.

To underscore this stark reality we developed and delivered fortune cookies to reporters and others that predict the “mis-fortunes” associated with the President’s plan:

  • Pay electric or grocery bill? Tough choices ahead for families.
  • Take meds or . . . Keep the lights on?
  • As temps rise, so will your electricity bills.
  • Keep the lights on or go to sleep hungry?
  • Eat the cost of electricity or eat dinner?
  • Family pocketbooks will shrink as power bills rise.

For nearly half of American households who on average are living on just $1,900 a month and spending 17 percent of their income on energy these aren’t just kitschy phrases, but rather a tragic reality. Too many of them are already missing meals or skipping needed healthcare as a result of high energy bills, we can only imagine how much harder their lives will be if the President’s vision becomes reality.

We hope the president understands the impossible choices his policies will force on American families. He should do the right thing by calling a halt to his politicized agenda so that families can indulge in Lo Mein with the lights on.


Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Sharing Your Story: What Does Affordable Power Mean to You?

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 3:45 pm, June 23, 2015

From schools to hospitals to homes, affordable energy is critical to communities from coast to coast. Through our work with America’s Power, the JR Motorsports team has gained a deep appreciation for low-cost, coal-based electricity, and we’ve given a lot of thought to how this issue touches each of our lives. As business owners, Dale Jr. and I are more aware of the importance of affordable energy from coal to keep our costs low and expenses in check. For Regan, whose grandfather sold coal in upstate New York, the subject is even more personal; the coal industry actually provided his family’s livelihood.

Every person has a unique story about how affordable power impacts his or her family and community. This is the basis for America’s Power’s Share Your Story initiative, which encourages supporters to speak about what low-cost electricity means to them. As a mom, I related to Pam M. from Kentucky, who said “Coal means food on the table, a roof over our head and keeping our energy bills lower.”

Hundreds of people from across the country have already shared their story. While the responses are all unique, they reveal a common message: we must protect coal-based electricity and support the people who work hard to keep the lights on in our homes and communities.

So, what does affordable power mean to you? Join Dale Jr., Regan and me, as well as hundreds of other supporters from across the country, and share your story with us.

Visit www.AmericasPower.org/Share-Your-Story to take part today.

 


Exposing the Truth: New Video Compares Consumers’ Energy Costs to White House’s

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 9:39 am, June 22, 2015

ACCCE released a new video last week comparing energy costs of Americans to those of the White House. This latest digital installment from America’s Power exposes a troubling reality: as “the people’s house” operates on over-the-top living expenses, everyday Americans are grappling with rising energy costs and declining incomes. Consequently, many of these households are left making tough choices between necessities including food, housing and medical assistance.

Recent updated analysis confirms nearly half of American households on average have an annual income of less than $23,000 after taxes. This translates to roughly $1,900 per month to cover all living expenses. Throw regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon rule in to the mix, and these struggling families will face even more trouble.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We hope our new video motivates the administration to focus less on lavish state dinners and rounds of golf, and more time pursuing energy policy that alleviates the hardships American families living paycheck to paycheck face. It’s the right thing to do.

Get involved in protecting low-cost electricity from coal by signing up for the America’s Power Army and learn more about how energy costs impact American families budgets here.


Growing Up With Coal: Celebrating Fathers in the Coal Industry

Posted by China Riddle at 12:58 pm, June 19, 2015

On Father’s Day weekend, millions of Americans are reminded of the special role dads, grandads and even great-grandads play in their lives. America’s fathers deserve this celebratory time, as their contributions help shape their families, communities and country. In the case of my family, our lives were shaped by the hard-working hands of coal miners.

When looking back on my younger years, I can’t remember a time when the men in my life wore ties to work. Instead, I grew up thinking steel-toed boots, mining uniforms, helmets and battery lights were common workplace attire. This was because my father, his father and my mother’s father were all men of the coal mines. Our family’s mining tradition is something I take great pride in because it’s allowed me to spend my life immersed in the coal industry.

For me, “Take Your Child to Work Day” meant rides in mining buggies and peering into the deep tunnels my father considered to be his ‘office.’ The “office souvenirs” he gave me weren’t desk paperweights, but often small fossils he found hidden in lumps of coal.

My father Steve (standing, second from left) and his father Bruce (kneeling, first from left) worked together as miners for Reedy Coal Company.

My father Steve (standing, second from left) and his father Bruce (kneeling, first from left) worked together as miners for Reedy Coal Company.

Marveling at mining carts and fossils filled my childhood, but as an adult I still find myself admiring my father and others in the coal industry. This Father’s Day, I could not be more thankful for the coal workers in my life, and I know hundreds of thousands of other Americans feel the same as I do.

From miners in Kentucky, to rail workers in Nebraska, to power plant employees in Arkansas, the coal industry provides opportunities for fathers and grandfathers across the country. Let’s make sure these hard-working men know they’re loved and appreciated this Father’s Day.


FERC Official Warns EPA’s Power Grab Could Undermine States’ Rights

Posted by Julia Treanor at 10:20 am, June 11, 2015

An official at the federal regulatory body in charge of monitoring America’s electric grid is once again calling attention to the serious cost, reliability and legal issues surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Tony Clark voiced new concerns about EPA’s proposal at the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners, where he addressed regulators from many of the states that will be most severely impacted by the plan.

As E&E reported last week, Commissioner Clark warned EPA’s proposal could “fundamentally change everything about how utilities are regulated.”

Emphasizing the flawed legal foundation of the regulations, he characterized EPA’s plan as a federal power grab, saying “What EPA is asking states to do, depending on how states choose to write their [state implementation plans], is to give EPA authority over things that it on its own in the Clean Air Act does not have authority to claim jurisdiction over.”

FERC quote blockCommissioner Clark went on to caution that if EPA’s proposal moves forward in its current state, it will put EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in charge of state energy policy, giving Washington “so much authority over the decisions that have traditionally been made by state public utility commissions, legislators and governors.”

We’ve already heard from many of those state public utility commissions, legislators and governors who share Commissioner Clark’s sentiments. As both state and federal officials recognize the growing threat EPA’s power grab poses to our nation’s energy security, it is time to put an end to these proposed regulations once and for all.

 


An Education: Meeting America’s Power

Posted by Emma Battle at 11:09 am, June 09, 2015

As the 2015 Communications Intern at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, I’m learning right alongside the thousands of people across the country the organization fights for every day. Though I didn’t grow up around coal, I’m passionate about protecting American businesses and families. The coal industry is too often misrepresented in the media and mistreated in Washington. Just like you, I’m determined to hear the stories and fight the fight on behalf of the 700,000 men and women who provide us with reliable energy from coal.

I grew up a military brat and lived in Maryland, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas before moving to the Virginia suburbs outside of Washington, D.C. In each place, I observed and appreciated the resourcefulness and work ethic of everyday Americans. After 9/11, I watched young soldiers bravely stand guard at our nation’s military bases and government facilities. When I moved to San Antonio, I was astounded at construction workers who repaired our city’s roads in sweltering temperatures of over 100 degrees. Now that I live near West Virginia, it amazes me every day to think of and read about the hard work and determination of that state’s thousands of coal miners. The Mountain State is one of many that receives a vast amount of its electricity from coal and the people who harvest that energy must not be forgotten.

Since both of my parents were lawyers for the military, I heard many stories growing up of how the Air Force works tirelessly to comply with the Clean Air Act, a vast and broad piece of legislation associated with the Environmental Protection Agency. My mother knew the ins and outs of that law impressively and could share with me the sometimes harmful ways in which it inconvenienced military members and slowed progress. Today, America faces new EPA regulations that would unfairly burden families and businesses.

I’ve seen throughout my life the danger that is posed when government agencies overregulate the private sector. Our nation was built on the success of privately-owned industries that were allowed to flourish and grow. I’m not a coal miner’s daughter, but I believe the people of the coal industry represent the strength of American ingenuity.


Kentucky Gubernatorial Candidates Vow to Fight EPA Overreach

Posted by China Riddle at 4:38 pm, June 04, 2015

The political scene in my home state of Kentucky has been quite interesting since early 2014. Barely half a year has passed since Senator Mitch McConnell cinched a reelection victory and became Senate Majority Leader. Now another heated election is underway, this time for the position of Kentucky’s governor. Beyond enduring a tough race, candidates in the gubernatorial election have one significant thing in common – a staunch opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations.

The resistance displayed by this year’s gubernatorial candidates is especially important, as it is state officials who will be mandated by EPA to craft a plan to comply with the regulations. In Kentucky, allowing EPA’s regulations to take effect would be disastrous to both our economic and energy future. Kentucky generates 93 percent of its electricity from coal and receives nearly 70,000 direct and indirect jobs from the coal industry. For political candidates in Kentucky, fighting EPA’s seriously flawed plan is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but a matter of the state’s energy stability and economic security.

Before the primary, every major gubernatorial candidate either “promised or suggested they would not follow through” with a state implementation plan. The eventual party nominees, Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat (and current Attorney General) Jack Conway, have both made it known Kentucky will not stand idly by while EPA tries to impose the rule.

When asked about carbon regulations, Matt Bevin said he would direct his administration to “resist EPA and their draconian regulatory agenda.” Attorney General Conway echoed this sentiment, saying he viewed EPA’s overreach as illegal and would work to “prevent further damage to [Kentucky’s] economy from overzealous regulation.” In fact, Conway has already taken action against the agency, joining 14 other states in a lawsuit against EPA’s plan.

With both major gubernatorial candidates vowing to oppose EPA’s harmful carbon regulations, and Leader McConnell rallying governors across the nation to reject the Obama Administration’s climate crusade, Kentucky is leading the fight for states to shape their own energy futures. I am proud to see my home elect this approach to energy policy and hope other states will do the same.


The Morning Consult: EPA & NRDC Resorting to Smoke and Mirrors Antics

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:56 pm, June 02, 2015

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on May 28, 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations have been at the center of widespread opposition since their release last year. Even in the face of criticism from elected officials, energy experts, regulators and scores of concerned citizens, the Obama Administration has vowed to ensure its environmental agenda is implemented at any cost. As a result, EPA is now scrambling to build public support before the rule is finalized this summer, calling on friends and allies to come to its aid – and, according to a recent New York Times article, using social media campaigns to build perceived support for its plans.

In coordination with the EPA, environmental groups have been staunch and vocal defenders of its proposal. Some have even argued the measure doesn’t go far enough, demonstrating the alarming degree of radicalism within the ranks of the environmental elite.

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently attempted to broaden support by releasing a study with questionable claims that casts EPA’s plan in an emphatically positive light.  This comes as no surprise considering NRDC has an intimate connection to EPA’s carbon regulations and maintains a cozy relationship with the agency.

One of the report’s most egregious and tiresome points is that EPA’s proposal will lower electricity bills for U.S. consumers. Even EPA admits electricity prices will increase under its rule, a fact that is further validated by research from NERA Economic Consulting. NERA’s analysis found that 43 states will experience double-digit electricity price increases under EPA’s plan, with 14 states facing peak-year price increases of 20 percent or more. To reduce electricity bills and energy use, consumers will have to spend upwards of $560 billion. So people will have to pay more to use less energy.

Like many environmental groups, NRDC claims to be a champion of the disenfranchised. But we know that low-income Americans will face a disproportionate burden of electricity cost increases under EPA’s proposal. By ignoring these truths and claiming in its report that landlords will help the poor, they do serious injustice to 23 million low-income families in 31 states who bring home less than $1,300 after-tax a month and already spend 22 percent on energy costs they can barely afford.

It is the very underserved people NRDC claims to be helping — impoverished families, children, the elderly and other vulnerable constituencies — who will suffer the most as a result of EPA policy.

Another claim made in NRDC’s report is that EPA’s carbon regulations will help prevent health problems caused by air pollution, especially in low-income communities. These claims are patently false and have been debunked repeatedly, as carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with pollution or public health. EPA already stringently regulates the environmental causes of these ailments, ozone and particulate matter, which NRDC erroneously commingled in its discussion of public health.

The erroneous claims in the report keep piling up as NRDC goes onto suggest EPA’s plan won’t harm electric reliability. They argue renewable resources will supplant low-cost, dependable fossil fuels under the plan that will actually result in “a better electricity grid with reliability that is second to none.” This is laughable as leading utility experts and grid operators across the country have invalidated this claim repeatedly, as low-cost, reliable fuel sources like coal are absolutely indispensable to generating electricity.

The report likewise fails to pass the sniff test in its assertion that EPA regulations are not to blame for coal plant retirements. Of the 72,000 MW of coal plant retirements and announced retirements since 2010, EPA policies have been the primary factor cited for 61,000 MW, or 85 percent, of this capacity. This is equal to almost the entire generating capacity of Ohio. Even EPA’s own analysis attributes 49,000 MW of these retirements to its carbon regulations—nearly twice the entire electricity supply of Virginia. Without fossil fuels, America’s grid will be pushed to the edge, leaving families and businesses susceptible to blackouts, brownouts and rationing.

Finally, NRDC is in the dark about the proposal’s effect on climate change, arguing that the shift to clean energy will “prevent the worst impacts of climate change.” It appears, contrary to their fear-inducing talking points, EPA and its allies are well aware the agency’s proposal is only being pursued under the guise of climate change. In fact, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy even admitted before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “The great thing about this [EPA Power Plan] proposal is that it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control.” Research confirmed this and proved EPA’s carbon regulations will have no meaningful effect on climate change at all, reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration by less than one-half of a percent, lowering global average temperature by 2/100th of a degree and reducing sea level rise by 1/100th of an inch—equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper.

EPA’s last-ditch effort to muster support for its proposed carbon regulations has only illuminated how problematic and costly the plan really is, as evidenced by NRDC’s flawed report. Unfortunately, EPA and its allies have chosen to ignore reality and, in turn, ignore the investments being made by the coal industry to reduce emissions and foster clean energy innovation. As this administration forges ahead with its dangerous agenda, it is ultimately American consumers who will pay the price if EPA’s carbon regulations are left unchecked.