Newly Launched #ColdInTheDark Campaign Highlights Reliability Concerns with EPA Regulations

Posted by Julia Treanor at 4:07 pm, January 23, 2015

This week, America’s Power launched a new campaign—#ColdInTheDark—to highlight the high costs and significant electric reliability impacts that will result from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations. The initiative offers a glimpse into the reality American consumers will face under the Clean Power Plan: less affordable and less reliable electricity, especially during times of critical demand.

EPA’s regulations are forcing coal-based power plants to shut down, threatening our supply of reliable electricity and elevating the risk of power outages for years to come. Last winter’s polar vortex revealed an already-strained electric grid, and major grid operators, regulators, elected officials, energy experts and other concerned Americans from coast to coast have sounded the alarm.

#ColdInTheDark is the inaugural installment of KeepAmericasPowerOn.org, a new initiative that will include several themed campaigns throughout 2015. The site will serve as an online hub that includes news articles, expert takes, infographics, social media share graphics, and resources related to electric grid reliability.

It’s time to expose EPA’s regulations for what they are, before Americans are left #ColdInTheDark – without the low-cost, dependable power we need, when we need it the most. Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org to learn more.  


After Misguided State of the Union, Time for Congress to Act on Climate Regulations

Posted by Mike Duncan at 3:38 pm, January 21, 2015

President Obama delivered yet another disappointing State of the Union address last night. The president missed a momentous occasion to reverse his dangerous regulatory regime and restore balance and affordability to the nation’s energy mix.

It’s clear that the president is forging ahead with his climate regulations—even if it leaves America without the low-cost, reliable electricity from coal we need. But now, President Obama is facing a new and energized Congress that must rein in the Environmental Protection Agency and put an end to the Obama Administration’s overreaching regulations.

I recently penned a piece for Roll Call, charging Congress to take action against the Obama Administration’s costly climate crusade.

After last night, the need for Congressional leadership to stand firm against these regulations is more critical than ever.

This piece first ran in Roll Call.

Returning to regular order means reining in EPA

If there is one lasting change the 114th Congress should seek to make, it is the return to regular order. The Founding Fathers intentionally made it difficult for the federal government to enact laws but not impossible. The seeming impossibility of any meaningful congressional action has instead been wrought by closely divided congressional chambers, bitter partisanship and misapplication of Senate rules.

With Congress on the sidelines, the Obama administration has repeatedly overstepped its executive authority by enacting new rules and regulations without regard for the safeguards established more than 225 years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which is illegally using an obscure provision of the 1970 Clean Air Act to advance the president’s climate plan without congressional regard and despite sharp criticism from states, industries and constitutional scholars. Even Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a teacher and longtime supporter of President Barack Obama, noted in his comments of opposition to EPA that the agency “is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

Beyond its constitutional problems, the president’s plan will cause severe and long-lasting damage to the economy. In fact, according to a recent study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, the costs to comply with EPA’s proposal could total $366 billion, on the conservative end, and create double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. With such massive and far-reaching implications, shouldn’t Congress have a role in developing energy policy as it is charged with crafting?

Fortunately, the 114th Congress has the opportunity to restore the proper checks and balances to our system while reigning in EPA in the process. An important step came late last year when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will return to regular order and allow the Senate to debate and vote on amendments on the Senate floor. Former Majority Leader Harry Reid had been all too anxious to avoid debate or votes on the president’s climate plan.

In addition to the basics of debating and voting on amendments, Congress’ appropriations process provides another useful vehicle to push back against agencies running amok. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills for specific agencies rather than passing year-end, all-encompassing omnibus bills. Individual funding bills provide members of Congress, who were elected by the American people, a mechanism to ensure they have a voice in the policies being driven by political appointees.

Finally, members of Congress need to work closely not just with one another, but with their counterparts in their home states. While federal policies are enacted in D.C., state governments are often left with the job of implementing those policies or leading the charge against overturning them if they are not workable, which is certainly the case with the president’s climate plan.

When EPA solicited comments on the president’s plan, at least 27 states argued the agency was exceeding its legal authority with 26 states calling on EPA to withdraw the proposal. Through legal challenges and legislative action, state governments are preparing to preserve their authority and fight EPA. It goes without saying that federal legislators must be informed about what is happening in their own states to truly act in the best interests of their constituents.

As poll after polls shows, the American public is keenly aware of and dissatisfied with the status quo of never-ending, partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital. Regular order in Congress, and with the president’s power, is what’s called for in the weeks and months ahead. Only by returning to the model set out by our founding fathers can we hope to achieve normalcy in our legislative process and success for our country.

Let Congress make policy.

 


Setting the Record Straight: EPA Misleads Americans on Clean Power Plan

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 7:15 am, January 14, 2015

Last week, acting EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe rattled off EPA’s same stale talking points about the Clean Power Plan in her blog post: “Time and Flexibility: Keys to Ensuring Reliable, Affordable Electricity.” In the post, McCabe touts the “time and flexibility” EPA has afforded states to comply with its proposed plan. This is really just laughable as an array of stakeholders—from grid operators to regulators to leading energy experts—have made it clear EPA’s timeline and flexibility is unworkable.

Don’t take my word for it, however, just look at the comments submitted on this topic. Here’s one of the most succinct by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality:

“EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan does not afford the flexibility for Nebraska to comply as advocated by EPA.”

McCabe’s post also highlights EPA’s commitment to solicit and engage stakeholders on its proposal. Time and time again, however, EPA failed to solicit and/or engage critical stakeholders. In 2014, the agency held only five public hearings on the proposed regulations and bypassed coal communities across the country despite pleas for EPA to come to their region and hear firsthand how communities and businesses would be destroyed. Additionally, the agency is turning a deaf ear to mounting concerns raised by states, who fear the CPP will throw their electricity generation into a tailspin—driving up costs and weakening grid reliability. As we outlined recently, with the CPP that are being all but ignored.

The agency argues that Clean Air Act regulations have yet to cause the lights to go out. However, this claim fails to take into account that the CPP proposal is wholly unprecedented in size and scope. Experts agree the reliability impacts of the proposal will be significant and potentially devastating, especially for the most vulnerable Americans. Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s comments read like many other state leaders, firmly opposing EPA’s proposal and underscoring serious reliability concerns:

“The proposed rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed. They exceed the legal authority granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. They seek to fundamentally restructure how our electricity grid functions while making our electricity less reliable.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post also maintains that CPP will protect Americans’ access to affordable energy. An analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, which uses the government’s own data, debunks this claim. The analysis found compliance costs of the proposed guidelines could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars and result in double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states. In their comments to EPA, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox raises concerns regarding cost repercussions, a common message among the growing chorus of opposition:

“As you may know, coal is the dominant source of generating electricity in Utah… Any transition away from this historically low-cost electricity source will have economic repercussions not just for the communities of those employed in the industry but throughout the state in the form of higher electricity prices.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post reaffirms what we already knew: EPA will continue misleading on its overreaching and impractical proposal, ignoring legitimate and widespread opposition and disregarding the deeply negative consequences that will result from the plan. With EPA showing no sign of coming clean about these impacts, it is up to American consumers to arm themselves with the facts and take action to stop EPA’s costly proposal from moving forward.

 


EPA’s Regulations Will Hurt Americans on Fixed Incomes

Posted by Julia Treanor at 3:41 pm, January 08, 2015

Like so many across the country, the residents of Red Springs, North Carolina are concerned about rising electricity prices. Since 2001, real energy costs for middle- and low-income families have increased by a staggering 27 percent. Higher energy prices affect all of us, but have a particularly devastating impact on low- and fixed-income families.

Fixed-income seniors are a growing proportion of the U.S. population, and are among the most vulnerable to energy cost increases due to their relatively low average incomes. In 2012, the median gross income of 27.9 million households with a principal householder aged 65 or older was $33,848, one-third below the national median household income. When prices rise but income remains the same, Americans are forced to make tough choices. Do I pay for the utility bill or medication? Do I heat my home or shop for groceries this week?

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations will only exacerbate an already dangerous situation. Under the agency’s plan, 43 states could experience double-digit electricity price increases, with 14 states potentially facing peak year electricity price increases that exceed 20 percent. Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, explained the devastating effect these increases would have, noting that:

Seniors and low-income folks on fixed incomes will be hit disproportionately hard by rising electricity costs. […]Households in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution will pay roughly three times what the richest 10 percent pay as a percentage of their income. For all of the president’s talk of income inequality, his carbon plan will only exacerbate the problem.

“These regulations single out those who deserve our compassion and our aid and place the greatest cost on their shoulders,” civil rights leader Dr. Charles Steele recently said. Keeping energy prices affordable is critical for so many Americans. Coal can continue to provide the reliable, low-cost electricity our country needs, but must remain an integral part of our energy portfolio.

 


Looking Ahead: Coal Fuels 2015

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 4:22 pm, January 07, 2015

Happy New Year from America’s Power! We’re gearing up for an exciting and important year as we continue our work to protect America’s access to affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.

Over the past year, we’ve seen just how critical this fight is for our energy and economic future. As part of President Obama’s climate change plan, the Environmental Protection Agency put forth unprecedented and costly regulations that will cause electricity prices to soar and threaten American’s people and economy.

As you know, coal is, and will continue to be, our most abundant, affordable and reliable source of fuel. To protect the bottom lines of our homes, businesses and economy, it is critical that coal continues to play a central role in our energy portfolio.

In 2015, each of you can take part in pushing back against the Administration by taking an active role in our advocacy efforts. So be on the lookout for more from us throughout the year on how you can engage with us and your lawmakers at the federal and state level who are key to stopping the Administration’s costly and illegal overreach.

Thank you for your continued support. Check back on Behind the Plug for frequent updates from America’s Power and, if you haven’t already, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 


Opposition to EPA’s Proposed Rule Piles Up… What is Your State Saying?

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 4:40 pm, December 12, 2014

Concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations on existing power plants poured in ahead of the December 1 comment deadline. States from Alabama to Wyoming made their voices heard on the many concerns with EPA’s overreaching plan. In addition to higher electricity rates, weakened grid reliability and negligible environmental benefits, comments from state leaders emphasized the legal flaws associated with the plan and stressed the fact that EPA lacks the authority to do what it has proposed.

See what your state leaders have to say about EPA’s costly proposed regulations and learn more about the specific consequences your state could face.

Alabama

  • “If the United States is to offer a high-cost, low-impact, symbolic [carbon] reduction program to spark similar actions world-wide, Congress is the appropriate body to do so.” Submitted by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Alaska

  • “EPA does not possess the authority to promulgate this Proposed Rule under the Clean Air Act (CAA).” Submitted by the State of Alaska

Arkansas

  • “The Agencies urge changes in the Proposed Rule to avoid unreasonable and inequitable results that may include disruptions to electric service and significant cost impacts in Arkansas and in neighboring states.” Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Public Service Commission

Georgia

  • “The CPP has the potential to put Georgia at a competitive disadvantage relative to other southeastern states.” Submitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Idaho

  • “…Idaho believes that the EPA lacks the legal jurisdiction to regulate carbon emissions in the overly broad fashion it is proposing.” Submitted by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

Indiana

  • “The proposed rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed. They exceed the legal authority granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. They seek to fundamentally restructure how our electricity grid functions while making our electricity less reliable. They will contribute to higher electricity prices at a time when our economy can least afford it. They will drive investment to other countries instead of creating jobs here at home. In short, the proposed rules will hurt Indiana and the rest of the country.” Submitted by Governor Mike Pence

Kentucky

  • “It is a widely held belief that this rule could initiate unintended consequences and jeopardize price stability and power reliability.” Submitted by Governor Steve Beshear

Louisiana

  • “[The proposed rule] jeopardizes the reliability of the electrical grid, unfairly imposes vastly different requirements on states, overestimates purported health benefits, attempts to supplant the sovereign authority of Louisiana by establishing a de facto renewable portfolio standard, and contains numerous other deficiencies.” Submitted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

Mississippi

  • “EPA’s proposed final [emissions] goal for Mississippi… is overly aggressive and unachievable.” Submitted by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

Montana

  • “I feel strongly that this administration has not done enough to advance clean coal technologies… If this administration is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is time that it becomes equally serious about making investments in cleaner coal technology.” Submitted by Governor Steve Bullock

Nebraska

  • “EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan does not afford the flexibility for Nebraska to comply as advocated by EPA.” Submitted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Nevada

  • “The Clean Power Plan threatens the long-standing authority that states have over energy and resource planning.” Submitted by the State of Nevada.

North Carolina

  • “NCDENR believes EPA’s proposed rule … is legally and technically flawed… In defining a specific rate for each state and then mandating each state meet that predetermined rate, EPA runs counter to the U.S. Constitution.” Submitted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

North Dakota

  • “If finalized EPA’s Proposed Rule would substantially increase rates North Dakota consumers pay for their electricity, and could significantly impact the reliability of the electrical services they receive . . . the Commission believes that the Proposed Rule is flawed and should not be finalized.” Submitted by the North Dakota Public Service Commission

Ohio

  • “Some of the organizations that have actual responsibility for maintaining grid stability and reliability have warned of ‘cascading outages’ and ‘voltage collapse’ if this plan is implemented as proposed…” Submitted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

Oklahoma

  • “For numerous reasons, it is the position of the ODEQ that EPA’s Proposed Rule is fundamentally flawed and unworkable.” Submitted by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Pennsylvania

  • “Proposed state-specific emission reduction targets for affected [power plants] and the use of ‘outside-the-fence’ measures to establish and achieve the targets are a major concern.” Submitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Tennessee

  • EPA has set mandatory emissions reductions “with no analysis by EPA as to whether that actually makes sense or is economically reasonable for each state.” Submitted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

Texas

  • “EPA’s attempt to control the nation’s electricity markets through the adoption of Rule 111(d) is an unlawful intrusion into areas it has neither the authority nor the expertise to regulate.”  Submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Utah

  • “As you may know, coal is the dominant source of generating electricity in Utah… Any transition away from this historically low-cost electricity source will have economic repercussions not just for the communities of those employed in the industry but throughout the state in the form of higher electricity prices.” Submitted by Governor Gary R. Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox

West Virginia

  • “With the finesse of a bull in a china shop, EPA intends to assert itself broadly into new regulatory arenas that impact all areas of the nation’s economy.” Submitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Wisconsin

  • “[W]e are very concerned the costs of EPA’s proposal will threaten our most reliable energy source and damage our ability to provide affordable energy to our citizens and manufacturing-based economy.” Submitted by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Wyoming

  • “WDEQ’s review finds that the Proposed Rule is fundamentally flawed and should be withdrawn principally because EPA lacks statutory authority to proceed with this rulemaking.” Submitted by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Morning Consult: Ignoring the Economic Benefits of Coal-Based Electricity, President Obama Once Again Chooses Politics over Practicality

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:46 am, December 09, 2014

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

In the wake of the midterm elections and looking ahead at two years of a lame duck presidency, President Obama is working harder than ever to advance his highly politicized climate agenda, even if it means ignoring the wills of Congress and the American people.

Backed by a small faction of environmentalist elites, the president is determined to pursue his political interests by whatever means necessary. In the last two weeks, that has meant making a questionable climate “deal” with China at the expense of Americans and our economy.

The president’s so-called “deal” with China will put America squarely on the losing end of the arrangement, as U.S. states struggle to meet unrealistic carbon reduction goals by 2025 while China operates as usual until 2030, when they are supposedly going to level-off their emissions. Of course the whole deal is non-binding, and skeptics aren’t sure China will honor their commitment.

One such doubter is the National Bureau of Asian Research which predicts China will continue to prioritize its economic growth over environmental policy and will resist any measure considered “restrictive” to its “conventional growth model,” which involves the use of affordable and reliable coal-fueled electricity.

The National Bureau of Asian Research raises a good point as China has experienced rapid economic development through the use of abundant and affordable coal deposits. The use of coal is bringing electrification to millions of its citizens for the first time as well as supporting its expanding manufacturing sector.

Like China, much of the world will rely on coal-based electricity to lift their citizens out of poverty and grow their economies. While these countries set their sights on a path towards economic growth and development, America will chart a different course – one plagued by lost jobs, soaring energy costs and a weakened manufacturing base.


Americans from Coast to Coast #ThankAMiner

Posted by Julia Treanor at 5:25 pm, December 04, 2014

America’s Power recently launched #ThankAMiner, a new initiative that showcases the many reasons Americans are thankful for our nation’s coal miners. We profiled the program in a blog post last week, and since then, we’ve received a flood of submissions from supporters sharing why they #ThankAMiner.

Here are just a few of the messages we’ve received so far:

“I #ThankAMiner – they work very hard each day to allow us to have electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Their job supports many communities, small businesses and millions of ancillary jobs. Our country needs coal… Thank you for what you do!” – Justin T., West Virginia

“The coal industry is…the backbone of America.” – Bob B., Iowa

“For all your hard work, I was able to work in a coal-fired power plant for 36 years. Your commitment to provide us with quality coal allowed [me] to buy a home and put my children through college. THANKS!” – Sue R., Michigan

“Today, I urge you to join me and #ThankAMiner for putting in the long hours and doing the hard work of providing affordable and reliable electricity to the people of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, and across the United States.” – Congressman Bill Johnson, Ohio

“Thank you to each and every man and woman who goes into the pits or works the strip mines for the hard work you do so that I can enjoy having electricity. I know there are other ways to provide this but none that are as inexpensive as coal.” – Phyllis G., Kentucky

“I thank you and your families for all the days and nights of hard work to bring the coal from the ground so that we can have affordable energy to be able to power our homes and workplaces.” – Carol M., Alabama

“I thank Power River Basin & America’s miners for providing affordable electricity.” Martha A., Wyoming

“Coal miners are tough and hard workers. They put forth every effort to make sure conditions are safe and secure to extract a product that continues to provide necessary energy to keep America and the world working. You are not recognized and thanked enough.” – Dawn R., Pennsylvania

Add your voice to the movement before National Miners Day on Saturday, December 6. Visit ThankAMiner.org to submit your photo and written message sharing why you want to #ThankAMiner.