Archive for September, 2011

Small Towns in Ohio Depend on Coal

Small towns all over Ohio are working hard to bounce back from the recession. Newark, Ohio is one of these small towns, but times are still hard, and unemployment in the town remains high.

With more than 80 percent of Ohio’s electricity coming from coal, the threat of rising electricity prices from EPA regulations means a lot to small towns like Newark. According to an initial analysis of just two proposed EPA regulations, Buckeye State electricity rates would rise by as much as 12.9 percent, a big increase, especially for small businesses like local banks and shops. Those same two regulations would also cost Ohio approximately 59,000 jobs.

“People can only pay so much,” says Ohio Councilman John Uible. “We’ve got to be practical, and we’ve got to be able to pay our bills. We have to do what’s right for this part of Ohio.”

With coal, Ohio can continue to provide stable, affordable power to its citizens. To tell Washington how you feel about affordable electricity, sign our petition on Facebook.


Three Things Your Member of Congress Needs to Know About Coal and EPA Regulations

This week, members of Congress are in their home districts to visit with constituents and discuss recent votes and debates. If you’re able to see your Congressman or Senator this week, it’s important to remind them of the critical role coal plays in the U.S. economy, and let them know how EPA regulations would negatively impact America.

A new study conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA), using state-of-the-art modeling tools and government data, shows the devastating consequences of these regulations.  Here are three things you can tell your member of Congress about the damage that proposed EPA regulations could cause:

  • Heavy Job Loss. Under new and proposed regulations, 183,000 jobs would be lost each year from 2012-2020. That’s one and a half jobs lost every minute of every work day.
  • A Weaker U.S. Economy. These regulations would reduce the disposable income of the average American family by $270 per year and cause a $29 billion drop in the country’s gross domestic product.
  • Increased Electricity Prices. Electricity costs could rise by double digits in many regions of the U.S. Regions covering all or part of 30 states, plus D.C., have peak-year increases exceeding 10 percent and as high as 19 percent.

It’s important to share these facts with your legislators and remind them that America is strong with coal-based electricity.  With coal providing nearly half of America’s electricity, it’s clear that coal continues to be a stable, affordable and abundant way to power the country.

Help keep EPA regulations from threatening American jobs by signing our Facebook petition.


Leaving No Energy Options Off the Table

President Obama is at a local high school in Denver, Colorado today talking about job and economic growth. In a state where 68 percent of the electricity comes from coal, one way to help educational facilities, like the one that the President is speaking at today, is for them to continue to use an affordable, reliable source of energy, enabling local school districts to invest more in education and less in power bills.

When it comes to providing facilities like schools with a reliable source of baseload power, it’s important that we have continue to develop domestic energy sources capable of providing stable power 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Coal is one source of baseload power that can meet our nation’s constant demand for reliable, low cost electricity.

Yet, new EPA regulations threaten this stability by calling for a massive amount of coal-based electricity to be retired. According to a new NERA study, four of EPA’s proposed regulations could cause 39.1 gigawatts of coal-based electricity retirements by 2015. These retirements could cost the power industry $21 billion per year and cost the U.S. nearly 183,000 jobs per year from 2012 to 2020. In today’s economy, no policy should call for any energy option to be taken off the table, especially one that provides nearly half of America’s electricity.

Even outside of Washington, some favor fuel switching policies, which calls for American power plants to replace their use of coal with other sources to generate electricity. Cutting readily available baseload energy sources off the table makes America’s energy portfolio less diverse and could lead to more expensive electricity for families and job creators.

Ultimately,we need to take a stand against overreaching policies, inside and outside of Washington, that would reduce how we use one of the most domestically abundant baseload fuel sources in America. With coal, Colorado and other states across the country can continue to keep electricity rates low and affordable. To help keep electricity affordable, sign the America’s Power Facebook Petition.


ACCCE Applauds House for Voting to Ensure Economic Impacts of EPA Regulations Are Analyzed

Alexandria, Va. – Following the U.S. House of Representatives bipartisan vote to pass the TRAIN Act, Steve Miller, President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, released the following statement.

“We applaud the Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives who supported the TRAIN Act and encourage the Senate to take similar common sense action to protect American jobs and consumers. To ensure that our national policies both protect the environment and promote a stronger economy, the EPA must analyze and understand the full, cumulative economic impacts of its regulations.  American jobs are at stake, as well as access to affordable, reliable electricity that is essential to our economic recovery.”

Yesterday, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity released a comprehensive analysis conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) showing that just four of EPA’s new and proposed regulations would lead to 183,000 lost jobs per year, which amounts to almost one and a half jobs lost every minute of every workday.  The NERA analysis also found that these EPA regulations would cause significant increases in the price of electricity and natural gas.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011” would set up a government-wide committee to analyze the cumulative impacts – such as energy price increases and job losses – of a host of major new EPA regulations.  In addition, the bill would delay two of the most expensive rules (the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule) to give power plants enough time to comply with new regulations, as well as provide guidance to EPA in writing achievable rules.

A copy of NERA’s full report is available on the ACCCE website at: http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/NERA_Four_Rule_Report_Sept_21.pdf


New Analysis Shows Economic Damage Caused by EPA Regulations

TRAIN Act Will Ensure Economic Consequences of EPA Rules are Analyzed

Alexandria, Va. – As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on the TRAIN Act, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, today, released a comprehensive analysis conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) showing that several of EPA’s new and proposed regulations would lead to 183,000 lost jobs per year and significant increases in the price of electricity and natural gas.

“America’s coal-fueled electric industry has invested nearly $100 billion, so far, to achieve impressive reductions in air pollution.  Now is the wrong time for EPA to blindly push ahead without even pausing long enough to understand how all of these rules could hurt American jobs and consumers,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of ACCCE.

The analysis, done on behalf of ACCCE by NERA, relies on state-of-the-art modeling tools, as well as government data for almost all of its assumptions.  NERA’s analysis projects that EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and proposed Maximum Achievable Control Technology, coal combustion residuals, and cooling water intake requirements for power plants would, over the 2012-2020 period:

  • Cost the power industry $21 billion per year;
  • Cause an average loss of 183,000 jobs per year;
  • Increase electricity costs by double digits in many regions of the U.S.;
  • Cost consumers over $50 billion more for natural gas; and
  • Reduce the disposable income of the average American family by $270 a year.

“EPA is moving much too quickly to adopt several of the most expensive regulations ever written for coal-fueled power plants without understanding or explaining all of the harm they will do to our struggling economy,” said Miller. “EPA has failed to analyze the full impact of its own rules.  The TRAIN Act is a common-sense bill that requires EPA to slow down and explain the full impacts of all these regulations on jobs and energy costs.”

Miller also added, “We expect that the TRAIN Act will be amended by the House of Representatives to include more protections for consumers and jobs, and ACCCE will support reasonable amendments to the legislation.”

Thanks to investments made in clean coal technology, emissions of major air pollutants from coal-fueled power plants have been reduced by 84 percent per kilowatt-hour of electricity.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts of the Nation Act of 2011, or the TRAIN Act, would set up a government-wide committee to analyze the cumulative impacts – such as energy price increases and job losses – of a host of major new EPA regulations.  In addition, the bill would delay two of the most expensive rules to give power plants enough time to comply with new rules, as well as providing guidance to EPA in writing the final version of the two rules.

A copy of NERA’s full report is available on the ACCCE website at: http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/NERA_Four_Rule_Report_Sept_21.pdf


What is the TRAIN Act?

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2401, the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011”—or more simply, the TRAIN Act. You can ask your member of Congress to support it by sending him or her a letter here.

Right now, the EPA is about to enact the most expensive regulations ever imposed on power plants without understand the cumulative economic impact of these regulations before they’re finalized.

If passed, the TRAIN Act would require the EPA to analyze the cumulative impacts of a number of major regulations, and delay two of the most expensive rules until the study is completed and Congress can decide whether further action is necessary to protect the U.S. economy and jobs. We want to be sure the EPA understands the impact that these regulations are going to have on jobs and electricity prices throughout the country.

The TRAIN Act calls for 11-person interagency committee chaired by the Department of Commerce. The committee would take less than a year to analyze the cumulative impacts of a number of these EPA regulations and look into the impact these regulations would have on a number of fields, including jobs, small businesses and consumers.

Not only would the committee look at how EPA regulations would affect jobs, it would investigate how electricity and energy prices and the reliability of the electrical grid would be impacted. For example, NERA’s initial findings of these regulations shows they could cause electricity prices in America to increase by up to 11.5 percent. That’s a big increase. Which is why it’s important to do a serious, critical analysis of these regulations.

We need to tell the EPA to slow down, and ensure the correct analysis is done before regulations are enacted. Write your elected official, and tell them to support the TRAIN Act.


The Coal Wire: Utility Commissioners Ask EPA to Slow Down on New Regulations

Last week, utility commissioners from several states testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Energy & Power Subcommittee hearing on how proposed EPA regulations for power plants would affect electricity reliability.

Trip Doggett (.pdf), President and CEO of Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), explains that just one of the new rules would decrease power capacity and their ability to respond to times of increased electricity demand:

“[T]he CSAPR (Cross-State Air Pollution Rule) implementation date does not provide ERCOT and its resource owners a meaningful window for taking steps to avoid the loss of thousands of megawatts of capacity, and the attendant risks of outages for Texas power users …

“If the implementation deadline for CSAPR were significantly delayed, it would expand options for maintaining system reliability. ERCOT is advancing changes in market rules – such as increasing ERCOT’s ability to control the number and timing of unit outages and expanding demand response – that could help avert emergency conditions.”

Jon McKinney (.pdf), a member of the West Virginia Public Service Commission, notes that the effects of these regulations go beyond energy reliability, they also hit consumers’ pocketbooks:

“My concern is that the new EPA rules will denigrate reliability leading to more major interruptions during peak electrical usage …Lack of implementation time will leave utilities with only two choices both of which have significant negative reliability impacts: either scale back on generation to meet rulemaking requirements (in some cases as much as 50%) or shutdown prematurely …

“In WV and the Midwest these rate increases will hit electricity intensive manufacturing particularly hard, leading to industrial plant shutdowns and substantial job losses. It will also be disproportionately borne by consumers in some of the poorest rural counties in Appalachian Region states where there are many customers who are unemployed or on fixed incomes.”

Reliability will suffer, consumers will suffer, and as the Missouri Public Service Commission’s Jeff Davis (.pdf) points out, these increased electricity rates will dampen businesses’ ability to create jobs:

“By forcing the closure of a coal plant or small cluster of coal plants, these regulations are going to create some pockets on the grid that have an increased risk of reliability issues because the grid was designed and built on the premise that those plants are going to be there providing voltage support to satisfy local load requirements in respective systems throughout the country …

“More than 80% of the electricity actually consumed in Missouri comes from coal … More importantly, the stable supply of energy supplied by those plants combined with sharp-penciled regulation has produced some of the lowest electric rates in the country. Those rates and the reliability of those plants have attracted a number of manufacturers to Missouri over the years and now those jobs are being threatened by rising rates.

“The cost of EPA regulations, in terms of direct costs to ratepayers, as well as the cost of attempting to comply with these rules under accelerated timelines, will exact a dear price paid by everyone in this country who uses electricity. Rates are going to rise, more people aren’t going to be able to pay their bills, more jobs are going to move overseas and U.S. manufacturers are going to be further disadvantaged.”

According to Stan Wise (.pdf), chairman of George Public Service Commission, there has been no cumulative impact study on these proposed regulations.  He is rightly pushing for Congress to “insist upon” studies before these regulations are enacted:

“No comprehensive study has been done by EPA to assess the combined impact of all of these rules on the price of electricity, on jobs, on the reliability of the electricity supply, and on the overall economy; and these rules as proposed and finalized don’t provide sufficient time for an orderly, deliberate technology installation program, as has been the case with past environmental rules. So we don’t know how much technology investment is required or the potential power plant retirements that could be caused by these rules – and causes me great concern from a reliability standpoint …

“Congress could aid in making this situation manageable by insisting upon a comprehensive study – preferably by an agency other than EPA – on the impacts of these rules and by providing more realistic timeframes for compliance that would increase reliability and reduce costs.”

So what can you do to make sure that these EPA regulations don’t harm reliability, increase electricity prices and cause job loss? Later this week, the U.S. House of Representatives is taking up the TRAIN Act, which would require the EPA to consider the economic effects of regulations it writes before putting them into place. By clicking here, you can tell your elected officials to support the TRAIN Act, and bring better economic accountability to the EPA.


The Reality of Coal: Answers to Questions You Might Have

With the Climate Reality Project concluding their “24 Hours of Reality” event last night, you might have some questions about some of things said about coal, coal-fueled electricity and clean coal technologies.

We want you to be armed with the facts when you talk to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – even your elected officials. So here are some answers to questions raised about America’s most abundant domestically-produced source of energy: coal.

  • Can’t we just rely on renewable sources of electricity instead of coal?

The short answer is no. The reality is that electricity is produced as baseload power and peaking power. Baseload power is the energy necessary to keep the electricity grid energized and meeting a constant demand. Peaking power is energy that comes on and off throughout the day, when electricity usage and energy demand go up and down. Peaking power uses resources like natural gas, solar and wind, which are typically more expensive than baseload electricity generated with coal. Baseload power has to provide electricity 24/7. The reality is that coal is one of the only reliable sources for that baseload power.

  • Do clean coal technologies exist?

The reality is that clean coal technologies have been around for several decades. Clean coal technology has dramatically improved the environmental performance of coal-based electricity plants. In fact, thanks in large part to clean coal investments, major air pollutants from coal-fueled power plants traditionally controlled under the Clean Air Act are more than 80 percent lower (per kilowatt hour of electricity generated) than 30 years ago. Technologies are now being developed to capture and safely store carbon dioxide as well.

  • Who supports coal-based electricity and clean coal technologies?

The reality is that many Democrats and Republicans support the continued use of coal to supply electricity to America, and the development of clean coal technologies. And previous statements from President Obama’s administration support coal as well. President Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, said back in February, “The world will continue to rely on coal-fired electrical generation to meet energy demand” and it’s “imperative that the United States develop the technology to ensure that base-load electricity generation is as clean and reliable as possible.”

So what can you do to support coal-based electricity and clean coal technologies?

  • Step 1 – Learn More: If you want to learn more about the realities of coal when it comes to our economic, energy and environmental security, visit CoalFacts.org.

  • Step 2 – Sign Our Petition to Protect Jobs: If you haven’t already, help protect current jobs, not only in the coal-based electricity, but also in many other parts of the economy, by signing our petition here.

  • Step 3 – Tell Congress to Make the EPA Slow Down: You can tell your elected officials to support the TRAIN Act that the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on during the week of September 19. With the TRAIN Act, the EPA will be required to consider the cumulative economic effects of the regulations it writes before putting them into place.