Archive for January, 2010

ACCCE Responds to President Obama’s Remarks about Clean Coal

Click here to read the statement on behalf of Stephen L. Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), on President Obama’s remarks about clean coal today.

Introducing Cheryl: A coal miner producing affordable energy for America

Today, we begin a new series of commercials and web extensions that feature real people telling their own stories about the importance of coal-based electricity. Not to sound like the announcer on “The People’s Court” (my sister loves that show), but these people are not actors. They are real people. They’re not reading a script. The film footage you see is the result of conversations each person had with Randy Snow (a member of our creative team) or me (talking to them off-camera).

Today, you meet Cheryl Brannan. Cheryl is actually a coal miner’s daughter who happens to be a coal miner herself.

Two things stand out from my conversations with Cheryl. The first is that Cheryl and the other folks who work at Black Thunder Mine (where we shot these commercials) take great pride in the work that they do: bringing affordable, reliable energy to the American consumer. Black Thunder Mine is one of the largest surface coal mines in the world. Black Thunder is near Gillette, Wyo., which is in the Powder River Basin. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are more than 100 billion tons of coal in the Powder River Basin—coal the mining industry is able to produce very efficiently, which translates to low-cost electricity for consumers across the U.S. Cheryl gets that her job not only provides reliable electricity for people in other parts of the country—it also keeps energy costs affordable.

The other thing that I enjoyed from my conversations with Cheryl was the fact that she talked about safety in the mining industry. Some of you may remember that I first started working in the coal mining industry on issues related to miner safety. In our conversation, Cheryl not only talks about safety in terms of the commitment that employees make to one another but also how a safe mining operation helps to reduce costs, which contribute to affordable energy for consumers.

Every time I meet people like Cheryl, I’m reminded just how important the coal industry is to America. It represents a huge domestic resource that is available to provide affordable, reliable energy to fuel our economy and quality of life. I join Cheryl in saying that I’m proud of what this industry means for America.

But she is better at telling her story that I am. Take a look for yourself.

The State of the Union: What they’re saying about Obama and clean coal

Last night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to discuss his first year in the White House, as well as the solutions he has in mind to repair our economy and stimulate job growth.

Among his solutions: Investing in clean energy initiatives like clean coal technology. And people are certainly talking. Here’s some of the noteworthy commentary from across the country.

Editorial, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (1/27): “The president’s clear recognition of the needs for nuclear power and clean coal are welcome and they will earn him criticism from some of his strongest supporters. Agree or disagree, he seems willing to take political heat to get things done. That’s refreshing.”

Opinion, Lynn Sweet for the Sun Times (1/27): “The President's vision includes investments in important technologies to diversity our energy sources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, including: the renewal of our nation's nuclear energy industry after a 30-year hiatus, cutting edge biofuel and clean coal technologies, and additional offshore oil and gas drilling. To fully transition to a clean energy economy and create millions of new American jobs, we must pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation to promote energy independence and address climate change.”

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (1/27): “The president cited nuclear power and clean coal as part of the ‘clean energy economy’ he hopes to foster, a mention ‘that did jump out at me,’”

NPR Morning Edition (1/27): “But the Obama administration thinks there's an answer: clean coal. That means extracting hydrogen and carbon monoxide from the coal to make syngas, a fuel that can be used to make electricity without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Department of Energy is spending $404 million this fiscal year to figure out how to do that. The Chinese government is also investing in the technology.”

Rep. Renee Kosel (R-Ill.), Southtown Star (1/27): “Interviewed by phone, state Rep. Renee Kose(R-New Lenox) l praised Obama for his eloquence and the call for bipartisanship on key issues regarding the economy. She liked Obama's energy plan as well, particularly his emphasis on use of nuclear energy and clean coal.”

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), (1/27): “He correctly identified clean energy technology as the number one job opportunity for the United States," he said. "The country that leads in clean energy will lead the world economy." On nuclear plants and clean coal: “He is a realist, and this has to be part of the mix to get it through the Senate."

Central Michigan Life (1/28): “[President Obama] wants America to concentrate on creating innovative advanced bio-fuels and clean coal technologies. Concerning climate change, Obama said: ‘Even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future — because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.’”

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce President Robert Van Deventer, Michigan Live (1/28): “I think it’s clear he’s committed to try and create incentives,” he said. “We want to try and position ourselves to be on the fast track.”

Editorial, The Tampa Tribune (1/28): “[President Obama] seemed at his most confident in calling for cleaner energy, including more nuclear power plants, clean coal technology, safe offshore drilling, and incentives to make ‘clean energy profitable.’”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/28): “Mr. Obama also stressed investment in infrastructure, the subject of his visit Friday to Tampa, Fla., to announce funding for high-speed rail projects. That includes energy investment, he said, from offshore drilling to nuclear power to clean coal and biofuels. Those statements earned loud cheers from the Republican side of the aisle, though those members quickly sat down when Mr. Obama added that he wants the Senate to pass the controversial climate legislation that creates a cap-and-trade market for carbon.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the New York Times (1/28): "President Obama … threw the weight of his presidency behind a principled compromise that prices carbon to reduce pollution, invests in new energy, and also embraces nuclear, clean coal and even drilling."

Ken Newcombe, CEO of C-Quest Capital, the New York Times (1/28): Before the speech, he said "If [Obama] mentions green jobs, that's talking big that he'll continue on the climate security bill."

USA Today (1/28): "Obama reiterated his support for developing solar cells, clean coal and biofuel technology and for giving Americans rebates to improve their homes' energy efficiency."

The Chicago Tribune's Swamp Blog (1/28): "Tonight, in his State of the Union address, Obama pushed essentially the same energy agenda with language that was decidedly more aisle-crossing. He won bipartisan applause by emphasizing plans to build new nuclear plants, develop so-called "clean coal" technology and drill for oil and gas offshore…"

UPDATED (1/29 at 11:30AM)

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Baltimore Sun (1/28): “Advances in technology can unleash more natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal, and alternative energy to lower your utility bills."

North County Public Radio (1/29):
"'Clean coal' got a mention in President Obama’s State of the Union address this week. Along with nuclear power and alternative energy sources, the President listed clean coal as an important sources for energy for the country. He also promised to move forward on climate change reductions."

Rep. Nick Rahall, (D-W.Va.), Bluefield Daily Telegraph (1/29): “I was part of the first congressional coal group decades ago when I first came to Washington,” he said. “That initial group languished through the years, and now that some of the newer members got it started up again, I said: ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. Let’s do it! Put me on … The coal caucus will work for clean coal technology, the development of carbon capture technology and to protect the health, benefit and safety of our coal miners and their families … There are a good number of issues facing our coal industry, and I think in all things, we need to seek balance.”

The American Farm Bureau (1/29): “The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes President Obama’s call in his State of the Union address last night for Congress to pass energy legislation that includes more production of renewable fuels and nuclear power. We also strongly back his commitment to opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. And we believe he was right on target with his stated commitment to continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.”

State of the Union and clean coal technology

"That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies." – President Obama from his January 27, 2010 State of the Union address

During my time at ACCCE we have been very clear on two points when it comes to providing low-cost, environmentally-friendly electricity to meet future demands: 1) We will need all forms of electricity production to accomplish that goal; 2) clean coal technologies must be a major part of the discussion.

Last night the president once again reiterated his campaign messaging that clean coal technologies must be part of this country’s energy future. Is there really anyone that can now argue that the president doesn’t fully understand the need to fund clean coal projects? If so, I’d love to hear that point of view (Jeff Biggers, I’m looking your way).

But for all the issues on which our two main political parties disagree, it’s clear that there are a few things democrats and republicans do agree on. Let’s take a look at what Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had to say in his response to the State of the Union: “Advances in technology can unleash more natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal and alternative energy to lower your utility bills.”

Last night’s speech was a call for national unity, and from what I was able to determine, it was a call for unity on all the issues—not just a handful of items.

So, with that in mind, it’s time for groups that are adamantly opposed to the use of coal to produce electricity to come to grips with the simple fact that we will use coal in this country for a long time to come.

Here’s hoping that those opposed to coal-based electricity will take the president’s speech to heart and lend their voice (or, at least, refrain from being an obstacle) when it comes to ensuring proper funding for the technologies that allow the use of our most domestically abundant baseload fuel source, while preserving the environment.

Complex issues require bipartisan support, and if last night is any indication, this is one issue both parties can agree on.

ACCCE President and CEO Steve Miller Statement on 2010 State of the Union Remarks

Click here to read the statement on behalf of Stephen L. Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), in response to the 2010 State of the Union remarks.

Looking ahead: The State of the Union

Tonight’s State of the Union address is one of the most anticipated in recent history. Last week’s election in Massachusetts ended the Democrats’ super-majority in the U.S. Senate, and Americans from every walk of life are wondering, “What now?” Will Democrats and Republicans make a renewed effort for bipartisanship? Or will election year politics get in the way of legislative accomplishment?

While it may be difficult to predict what will happen this year, there is little doubt about what is on the minds of most Americans: their jobs, their family budget and the economy. At ACCCE, we share those concerns and are committed to advocating for and supporting policies that will strengthen our economy while creating and maintaining jobs.

First, let’s not forget that low-cost electricity from coal is a major economic driver. Coal is used to generate nearly 50 percent of America’s electricity, and states across America rely on coal to meet their electricity needs. Because of coal’s price stability and affordability, these states have been able to create manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries that provide good-paying jobs for American workers. We will work with the president and the Congress to ensure that public policies keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses.

Second, we will continue to support a comprehensive approach to federal carbon management legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bring new clean coal technologies to the marketplace, strengthen our economy and create jobs for American workers.

We can grow our economy, create jobs and ensure continued progress on the environment – including reducing carbon emissions. But accomplishing these goals will require all political parties and all economic sectors to work together. While this kind of cooperation is rare in Washington D.C., we remain optimistic about making progress on these goals in the years to come.

In focus: West Virginia

In case you missed it last week, West Virginia was a hotbed of energy news and debate. And it seems that this week is picking up just where last week left off in the mountain state.

Things got started last week when it was reported that Workforce West Virginia will be the recipient of $6 million in stimulus funding to help prepare workers for clean energy jobs. The Associated Press reported that “West Virginia’s funding will be used to train current and future workers in building construction, retrofitting and installation jobs” and that “more than 1,600 workers who complete training are expected to find employment.”

That’s great news, because creating jobs through clean energy is of utmost importance – and as we’ve said before, there are few better ways to create them than through the commercial development and deployment of clean coal technologies.

That story was followed by coverage of the mountaintop removal debate between Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in Charleston, W. Va. In addition, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph ran a story on FACES of Coal – the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security – about how the group wants to make sure Americans are getting the whole story when it comes to the coal industry – and the strong support it is receiving.

Finally, it was announced that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin planned to hold a closed-door meeting today to talk about issues pertaining to coal and the environment. According
to Huntington’s WOWK-TV
, the governor will be joined “by several environmental representatives, Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., U.S. Reps. Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan, both D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., among others.” The governor also plans to hold a press conference following the meeting to answer questions – which we’ll keep an eye on for you.

Here on Behind the Plug, we often tell you about coal news on a national level. But stories like these give us a chance to show you that coal and clean energy are a big story on the state and local level, too. What do you think about the energy debate occurring in West Virginia? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Our favorite environment and energy online publications

With so much happening in the energy space, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite blogs and online publications to help keep you apprised of the many related issues happening around the globe.

National Journal Online: Its Energy and Environment Expert Blog features online debates on energy legislation and policy, which are openly discussed by a select panel of politicians, industry leaders and insiders.

MIT’s Technology Review magazine: Read articles about cutting-edge clean coal technologies from one of the world’s best scientific research universities.

The Energy Collective: A fantastic publication that discusses energy and carbon dioxide emissions on an international level.

The New York Times’ Green Inc. blog: If you need background on the major environmental and energy news topics of the day, check Green Inc. for insightful tidbits and commentary.

Have a favorite energy blog or online publication we didn’t mention here? Share it with us in the comments.