Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Small Businesses and Affordable Electricity

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 1:42 pm, May 27, 2015

As the co-owner of a small business, I know firsthand the wonderful and important role small businesses play in communities across our nation. Small businesses drive our local economies, fuel innovation and provide opportunities where they may otherwise not exist, creating two out of three new jobs in the U.S. every year.

The economic health of our communities depends on the success of our small businesses. We have seen that here in Mooresville, N.C., where JR Motorsports has proudly called our home for years. In order for a small business to succeed, it’s important they be allowed to flourish, not held back by rising costs. When the costs of doing business increase, small business owners are forced to make sacrifices to keep their operations afloat.

Electricity is one of the most critical components of a modern business, powering everything from a garage full of machinery to the heat and air conditioning that keep us warm in the winters and cool in the summers. Small business owners rely on low-cost, predictable electricity rates to balance budgets and invest in future growth.

The team at JR Motorsports knows that rising electricity rates affect our bottom line. The last thing my brother Dale Jr. and I want to worry about is choosing between hiring a new team member and keeping the lights on. We’re glad that North Carolina’s electricity rates are nearly 11 percent lower than the national average, due in part to our state’s use of coal.

I’m grateful for an abundant energy resource that can reliably power not just my business, but small businesses across the U.S. I’ll be back with a guest blog post in June, but until then be sure to learn more about affordable, reliable coal-based power, and keep watching the JR Motorsports team each race weekend.


Growing Up With Coal

Posted by China Riddle at 3:07 pm, May 21, 2015

Supporters of America’s Power know we regularly ask them to share their story and explain the importance of coal to their communities and families. Reading their stories is the best aspect of my work, because I completely understand what our supporters mean when they say coal lights up their lives. As a native of coal country, I know their explanation is both literal and figurative, because coal did the exact same thing for me. Just like our followers shared their story with America’s Power, I want to share my story with all of you.

I say coal literally and figuratively lights up lives because for me, and countless others, it’s true. Coal literally kept the lights on when I was growing up in Kentucky, as it provides 92 percent of the state’s electricity. Figuratively, however, coal lights up my life because it gave me a better life.

Thanks to coal, my father had steady employment since the age of 19 and worked his way up to chief electrician of the mine where he was employed. The nights were long and the job was tough, but Dad always looked the same when he walked through our door – work-worn boots, mining light on his helmet, a check in his hand and a smile on his face. He’d hand the check to my mother and we knew all of our family’s needs would be met.

The skills my father developed as a miner helped him become a small business owner in 2007, and he and his partner John have seen great success as contractors for the refurbishment of mining equipment. My father is no longer a coal miner, yet coal still provides absolutely everything for my family. Our family story is a testament to the economic opportunity created by jobs both directly and indirectly related to coal mining. As the Obama Administration and its environmentalist allies place a target on the back of this industry – and consequently on the backs of hard-working Americans like my father – I feel even more compelled to share my story.

Be on the lookout for my personal blog series, “Growing Up With Coal,” where I will regularly share tidbits of my life as a coal miner’s daughter and weigh-in on environmental regulations from the perspective of someone who understands that for many coal isn’t just fuel, but a way of life.


Guest Blog: Buckeyes Count on Coal

Posted by Christian R. Palich at 5:26 pm, May 19, 2015
For more than 200 years, coal has powered the Buckeye state. With new proposed regulations seeking to change that, Ohio’s energy future, as well as the nation’s, could be in jeopardy.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio with the Ohio Coal Association.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio with the Ohio Coal Association.

The growth Ohio saw in the early 20th century and the rise of the world’s strongest middle class was no doubt powered, in part, by Ohio’s coal industry. During that time coal jobs were abundant, reaching nearly 50,000 in 1918, the highest in history. Coal also made Ohio an epicenter for manufacturing because of its ability to produce low-cost, reliable electricity. When talking about this state’s great history, you couldn’t possibly tell the full story without coal.

Tom Mackall (CEO, E. Fairfield Coal Company) shows a mining tool to Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson before a mine tour in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Tom Mackall (CEO, E. Fairfield Coal Company) shows a mining tool to Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson before a mine tour in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Current coal reserves in America have the ability to power Ohio and the rest of the country for more than 250 years. That is, if Washington D.C. would step out of the way. The Obama Administration and its unprecedentedly radical Environmental Protection Agency has continuously attacked Ohio’s coalfields with excessive and politically motivated regulations. The effects have been costly for Ohio’s families, who continue losing access to affordable and reliable electricity.

The most disturbing part, however, is that when EPA was taking “testimony” on its so-called “Clean Power Plan,” it stayed far away from Ohio and other coal-producing states. It’s easy to make these decisions when you don’t have to look into the eyes of the people you are harming the most.

When asked by Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson during a committee hearing if she could visit his coal-producing district in Southeast Ohio, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said she had a busy schedule, but that her office would look into it. So far, McCarthy has not landed her taxpayer-funded jet anywhere near coal country to hear how these regulations will affect Ohioans.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio.

Our vision statement at the Ohio Coal Association is simple:

“…We are committed to advancing the development and utilization of Ohio Coal as an abundant, affordable, and environmentally sound energy source.” 

Environmentalists cringe when reading that coal is environmentally sound because it goes against the misinformation they have propagated for years. The facts are the facts, and our coal companies have tremendous mitigation and reclamation records that have been recognized nationally.

Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce Participates in America’s Power’s "Thank a Miner" Campaign.

Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce Participates in America’s Power’s “Thank a Miner” Campaign.

Our members and association work tirelessly every day to tell coal’s story and to give a voice to those that some in D.C. have chosen to ignore. We teach at schools, community events and alongside our elected officials in both Columbus and Washington. Countless elected officials who have visited our member mines have all had the same reaction to the industry: respect and gratitude to our miners for the coal energy that they work to provide.

The current Administration does not share that reaction and the coal industry has faced incredibly tough times because of it. Regardless, our members have faith that a little bit of Buckeye common sense will prevail in the end. People often say, “Coal Keeps the Lights On.” Well here in Ohio, where we get nearly 70 percent of our electricity from coal, it isn’t just a catchy tag line, but the truth.

Christian R. Palich, President of the Ohio Coal Association


Senior Citizens: Helped by Affordable Electricity, Hurt by EPA Regulations

Posted by China Riddle at 11:06 am, May 14, 2015

May is National Older Americans Month, a special time to recognize our nation’s senior citizens. An essential component of honoring our seniors is helping to keep their living costs low, especially because 70 percent of older Americans survive on a fixed income. Affordable energy provided by coal plays a vital role in this process.

Low and stable electricity rates help seniors afford necessities beyond energy, like groceries and health care. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations will make living on a fixed income significantly harder for older Americans.

NERA Economic Consulting estimates EPA’s plan will cause double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states, an increase seniors’ fixed budgets have little room to absorb. Escalating costs could force seniors to forgo meals and doctor visits just to afford electricity – a devastating consequence that could seriously impact their health.

Jim Martin, chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association, recently explained seniors are already having to make tough choices thanks to rising energy costs, but EPA’s plan “will make choices like these all too common, and will push too many of our seniors…across the line from struggling to impoverished.”

To the 60 Plus Association and millions of older Americans, EPA has neglected the effects their rules will have on one of our most treasured generations. Our seniors deserve energy policies that protect their lifelong savings and allow their golden years to be worry-free, not extreme regulations that cause them undue financial burdens.  

 


Small Businesses Run on Coal-Based Electricity

Posted by Julia Treanor at 9:42 am, May 13, 2015

Although last week was National Small Business Week, many Americans recognize the importance of small businesses in their communities year-round. Small businesses are crucial for economic growth as they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. In fact, the most recent government data reveal small businesses make up 99.7 percent of American businesses, with more than half of Americans either owning or working in these settings. To successfully operate each day, it’s vital these businesses can afford all of their necessities, often beginning with electricity.

Reasonable and steady electricity rates ensure businesses owners have the funds to hire new employees and invest in growth opportunities. As coal is America’s most abundant and affordable fuel source, it plays an important role in keeping energy costs low.

Throughout the years, America’s Power has travelled the nation to meet with small business owners and learn about how they rely on coal-based electricity. From a packaging company in Ohio, to an online specialty food shop based in Nebraska, affordable energy helps small businesses survive and thrive in local, national and even global markets. As Olivia Albright from Ohio said, low-cost electricity ensures she can create jobs, not take them away by having to choose between energy bills and payroll.

For decades, America’s business owners have enjoyed the competitive advantage of affordable electricity, an advantage that has also helped our country become the market leader it is today. By continuing to support affordable power from coal, America is supporting the spirit of small business.

To learn more about coal’s impact on businesses and the U.S. economy, check out CoalFacts.org.

 


Courts must step in and stop EPA’s brazen overreach

Posted by Mike Duncan at 3:13 pm, May 12, 2015

This column originally appeared on FoxNews.com on May 5, 2015.

It’s been said that ‘timing is everything’ and time is just one of the issues at stake in the legal proceedings surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. Specifically, the Court must decide if a proposed federal regulation, like the CPP, can be struck down before it is finalized.

In this case, that would be the right decision.

Last month, attorneys on behalf of Murray Energy Corporation and a bipartisan coalition of 15 states argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit seeking to have the Court dismiss EPA’s plan. One of the arguments made by EPA is that the Court must not dismiss the rule because it is still tentative, could change, and the EPA could still “even withdraw the proposed rule”.

When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, however, the EPA is clearly talking out of both sides of its mouth. As EPA attorneys seek to convince the courts the proposed rule could be influenced or even withdrawn based on the feedback received in the public comment period, EPA officials are blatantly singing another tune.

Just one week prior to the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an energy symposium, “[The Clean Power Plan] is going to happen. We have the legal – not just right and authority but responsibility – to do it.”

In March, McCarthy said, “EPA is going to regulate… If folks are thinking any of these pieces aren’t going to happen – and (the Clean Power Plan) isn’t going to be implemented, I think they need to look at the history of the Clean Air Act more carefully.”

These are hardly the words of an agency that is still making up its mind.

Fortunately, Judge Thomas Griffith seemed to pick up on this during oral arguments, asking the EPA if McCarthy’s remarks suggest that the agency’s comment period is a “sham.” While the EPA argued it wasn’t, the evidence certainly suggests otherwise.

When the EPA held field hearings on the rule, they neglected to hold them in coal-rich areas that would be among those most hurt by its plan. EPA’s air quality chief Janet McCabe told Congress the agency held hearings in “locations where people were comfortable coming.”

A sincere comment period should not be about comfort. It should be about hearing the impacts – both good and bad – of a proposed rule. Unfortunately, the EPA seems uninterested in doing the right thing.

It is essential the courts act now to stop EPA’s Clean Power Plan because the impacts on states are already being felt. EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a specific plan that will lead to a nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 30 percent by 2030. These plans are to be submitted to EPA by June 2016.

These plans represent an extraordinarily complex undertaking. States will need to study their electricity infrastructure, change their policies and laws, adjust their regulatory structures, all while ensuring electric reliability isn’t put at risk. Many states suggest the development of such a plan will require three years or more, yet EPA is giving them just one. Adding insult to injury, all of this work must be done irrespective of legal challenges that will likely overturn the rule.

To accommodate this accelerated schedule, states already are dedicating taxpayer dollars to prepare for the rule. Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and South Dakota are just some of the states that report using significant amounts of staff time studying the proposed rule and the substantial changes they would need to make to implement it.

Whether the E Read more >>


Attorneys General Voice Concerns with the Clean Power Plan’s Legality at U.S. Senate Hearing

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 5:18 pm, May 11, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has been the subject of serious legal critiques, and last week’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety was no exception. During the hearing, Attorneys General from West Virginia and Oklahoma made their case for why they joined with 13 other states to file a legal challenge to block the plan based on the egregious overreach of federal power it represents.

Tuesday’s hearing, “Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan,” focused on the serious legal questions surrounding EPA’s plan, which in the words of Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, threatens the integrity of our system of ‘cooperative federalism.’ Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey (WV) and Scott Pruitt (OK) declared the plan both violates the Constitution and will reap devastating impacts on communities across the U.S. Former EPA General Counsel Roger Martella also testified to the legal concerns that arise from the new powers EPA is attempting to exert through the rule.

From the hearing:

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito: “We know from nearly five decades of experience that the Clean Air Act works best when implemented in the spirit of cooperative federalism. When the federal government works with the states as partners, we can, and have, improved our air quality and protected our economy and our electricity grid at the same time.

However, the Clean Power Plan does none of this in my opinion. Instead, we have EPA dictating to the states and effectively micromanaging intrastate electricity policy decisions to a degree even the agency admits is unprecedented. This raises a broad array of legal issues and is, quite simply, bad policy.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “It is my duty as the chief legal officer for the State of West Virginia to fight against this unlawful power grab, which is harming our citizens.”

Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt: “No state should comply with the Clean Power Plan if it means surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their power generation needs.”

“The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to do what it is seeking to accomplish in the so-called Clean Power Plan.”

Mr. Roger Martella, Jr. Partner, Sidley Austin LLP: “In essence, the proposed [CPP] would be the nation’s broadest and most extensive regulation of energy itself and establish EPA’s authority effectively to reorganize the entire energy generation sector.”

Legal experts agree that EPA’s proposal is an illegal usurpation of state powers for a number of reasons, three of which Mr. Morrisey outlined during the hearing:

1. The Clean Air Act’s Section 112 exclusion prohibits the Section 111(d) rule.

2. The Section 111(d) rule is illegal because it seeks to transform the states’ energy economies, rather than just regulating particular sources.

3. The Section 111(d) rule illegally commandeers the states.

We applaud Attorneys General Morrisey and Pruitt for standing up for their home states and fighting the Obama Administration’s hostile overreach. EPA’s plan not only threatens the future of American energy production – it violates federal laws passed by Congress.

 


The Morning Consult: EPA Rule Bad News for Low-Income Households

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 2:55 pm, May 04, 2015

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on April 29, 2015.

Rising energy costs are among the new economic challenges facing millions of families across the country, according to an updated analysis commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“State Energy Costs for Families” uses data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration to assess the impacts of energy costs on American households in 31 states. The report exposes an unsettling reality: America’s poorest and most vulnerable families are devastatingly impacted by higher energy prices, such as those enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency’s policies.

EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, if implemented, will result in double digit electricity rate increases in 43 states – increases that few can afford. Minorities and seniors are especially vulnerable to these dangers, as they make up a large percentage of lower-income households.

The “State Energy Costs for Families” study also finds that real family incomes have declined since 2001. Declining family incomes magnify the effects of higher energy prices on lower-income and middle-income households, forcing families to choose between keeping the lights on and other basic necessities like food and health care.

EPA has turned a blind eye to these realities and continues demonstrating indifference toward communities that will by hardest hit by its misguided energy policy. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy showcased her apathy earlier this month when she outlandishly categorized the Clean Power Plan as an issue “not hot outside Washington, D.C.”

In fact, EPA’s plan is drawing fire outside the beltway from elected officials and regulators in 32 states, all underscoring the significant threats the proposal presents to consumers including higher electricity rates and weakened grid reliability. Governors and attorneys general in 28 states have called for the outright withdrawal of EPA’s proposal.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have also noted EPA’s disregard toward economic concerns and are rightfully unveiling the costs of its proposal. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power recently held a hearing discussing the economic consequences of EPA’s proposed rule and included witness Eugene Trisko, economist and author of the “State Energy Costs for Families” study. In his testimony, Mr. Trisko highlighted the inevitability of increased energy costs under EPA’s proposal and its disproportionate impact on our most financially vulnerable families.

The facts speak for themselves. Energy costs are going up and America’s most vulnerable households will be disproportionately impacted. By ignoring the valid cost concerns being raised by regulators, lawmakers and elected officials across the country, EPA is leading our nation down a path we simply cannot afford.