Archive for February, 2009

Affordable energy has never been more important

I’ve mentioned a few times that affordable energy is vital to rebuilding our economy.

What do I mean by that?

Well, it’s a fact that American businesses need affordable electricity.

According to’s 2008 North American Business Cost Review, energy costs are second only to labor costs in determining the viability of a business in a given location.

So that’s why you see states like Kentucky with traditional low-cost energy doing very well at attracting manufacturing jobs. Georgia doesn’t have many coal industry jobs, but coal provides over 60 percent of the state’s electricity. As a result of the low electricity prices that coal provides, Georgia sees a significant economic impact. Other states like California and several in New England that have among the highest costs of electricity have lost industry.

How expensive is electricity in your state? Take a look at this map.

Remember, coal is a third of the price of other fuels, so it’s likely that if coal provides the majority of electricity in your state… you’ll have cheaper power and be in a better position to attract businesses.

We Need Clean Coal, Obama Tells Congress

Rebuilding America's economic future "begins with energy," President Obama told a joint session of Congress tonight.

He said we'll need all our energy sources, including clean coal.

There is no doubt that affordable energy is critical to our economic recovery. As we meet more stringent environmental standards, we'll need to do so while holding the line on rising energy costs. After all, affordable energy is truly a basic necessity in today's society.

And remember, coal is less than one-third the cost of other energy sources.

(As for those environmental standards, take a look at how far we've come since 1970.)

Look, these are challenging times. There's no silver bullet solutions to protecting American jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That's why I always talk about the need for a silver buckshot, meaning lots of things working together to provide a bigger result.

With that in mind, click here to get involved in keeping energy affordable for American families.

Governors ask Obama to support CCT

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. and Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal wrote a letter to President Obama on Sunday, calling for him to support the development of clean coal technology.

“Finding a way to use our nation’s rich supplies of coal in a manner that avoids emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants is absolutely vital to the success of any national effort to reduce emissions, promote national security and create jobs,” the three governors wrote.

The letter was also delivered to Carol Browner, assistant to the president on energy and climate change, and to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Read the full letter below:

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

Finding a way to use our Nation’s rich supplies of coal in a manner that avoids emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants is absolutely vital to the success of any national effort to reduce emissions, promote national security and create jobs. Our Nation must also take the lead in developing truly clean-coal technologies that can be adopted by rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India.

It is with these goals firmly in mind that we report that our three states and an informal consortium of other stakeholders are prepared to move rapidly to develop new and retrofit clean coal demonstration projects that incorporate carbon capture and sequestration. However, it is clear to us that taking technology from the laboratory bench to commercial-scale demonstration plants simply will not occur without a significant federal commitment of resources. Therefore, we are writing to urge you to thoroughly consider significant funding for federal-state-private efforts to construct new and retrofit demonstration clean coal facilities that use western coals and are capable of operating at altitude.


Fixing the economy means going back to basics

Tomorrow night, President Obama will tell Congress that his highest priority is getting America’s economy back on track.

I couldn’t agree more.

Sometimes, getting back on track can be as simple as getting back to basics. And for the American economy and quality of life, affordable energy is truly a basic necessity.

Consider this: energy costs are second only to labor costs in determining the viability of a business in a given location. Thus, access to low-cost energy means stronger businesses and more jobs for American workers. Of course, for working families, lower energy costs mean more money to make ends meet in challenging economic times.

I believe affordable energy is critical to our economic recovery, and I would like to hear the president talk about how it is we are going to hold the line on rising energy costs as we meet more stringent environmental standards.

But that’s just my take. What would you like to hear? Tell us here at Behind the Plug, and click here to get involved in keeping energy affordable for American families.

Follow our commentary during President Obama's speech on Twitter.

Study: Forests Provide Bigger Carbon Sink than Previously Thought

Tropical forests are soaking up nearly one-fifth of our planet’s carbon emissions.

According to a new report published in Nature, these forests absorb 4.8 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. The 40-year study of 250,000 tree records shows that undisturbed tropical forests are an even greater carbon sink than scientists thought.

"We are receiving a free subsidy from nature,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Simon Lewis of England’s University of Leeds. “Tropical forest trees are absorbing about 18% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year … substantially buffering the rate of climate change."

But Mother Nature can’t go it alone.

That’s why we need to continue developing the carbon capture and sequestration technologies of the future, while also working to preserve the planet’s own natural CCS system.

At ACCCE we always say we see the need for silver buckshot (lots of things working together to provide a bigger result) as opposed to thinking there is a silver bullet solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S., Canada pledge to work together on CCS

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an agreement yesterday stating that the clean energy dialogue between the two countries will focus on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.

According to the Environmental News Service, the two agreed in a joint statement that “A strengthened U.S.-Canada partnership on carbon sequestration will help accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale, near-zero-carbon coal facilities to promote climate and energy security.”

Furthermore, the pair agreed that a commitment from both countries was needed for the effective collaboration “on the development of clean energy science and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.”

To get the ball rolling and rolling fast, the countries have agreed to coordinate the R&D of CCS at coal-based power plants, using funds from the $3.4 billion reserved for CCS in the newly passed stimulus bill, along with funds from Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The leaders' said they plan to use their experience with the Basin Electric Power* North Dakota-Weyburn project, which shuttles CO2 from a plant to North Dakota to an oil field in Saskatchewan for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

This is indeed an exciting partnership that will bring us closer to our environmental goals, while spurring economic growth and allowing for continued reliability and affordability of electricity.

NOTE: Basin Electric Power is an ACCCE member.

Clean coal technologies receive $3.4B in stimulus funding

It's signed, sealed and delivered: President Obama and the 111th Congress have sent a strong message about our country's energy future by including $3.4 billion in funding for clean coal technologies in the economic stimulus package.

Check out ACCCE's official statement on the funding, and stay tuned to Behind the Plug to monitor the progress.

How clean coal can generate $1 trillion of economic output (event coverage)

Last week, I told you about a report conducted by BBC Research and Consulting that concluded that deployment of advanced coal-based electricity generation facilities
(power plants) equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS)
technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions could generate $1 trillion of economic output and create 7
million man-years of employment

We announced the findings last week in Washington, D.C., along with several labor groups: the Industrial Union Council of the American Federation of Labor and
Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO), the International
Brotherhood of Boilermakers
(IBB), the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers
(IBEW) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

Below, watch highlights of the event: