Archive for July, 2013

It’s Not About Politics, It’s About People

When it comes to protecting American coal workers, our families and our communities, one thing is clear: it’s not about politics.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of 22 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to put potential EPA regulations above the people they would impact the most.

“We ask that you stand with our constituents, our coal miners, and our coal communities by rejecting these proposed NSPS greenhouse gas regulations to reflect the true commercial realities of different fuel types and control technologies. Staying the present course will only prove disastrous: increasing unemployment, raising costs for American families and businesses and reducing our energy security.” 

It was also announced this week that a delegation from West Virginia will be sending 17 people, including Democratic state legislators and union and business leaders to Washington, D.C. to fight to protect our coal communities.

Larry Puccio, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said it perfectly: “This is not about politics. It’s about people in West Virginia. We want to support our people.”

This isn’t just about West Virginia, though. It’s about 760,000 American coal miners, construction workers, railroad operators, utility workers and their families. It’s about American families and businesses that rely on affordable and reliable electricity every day.

Go Jimmy Go

Jimmy Rose isn’t just another talented guy looking to find his big break on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

He’s a performer with a message; whose song Coal Keeps the Lights On speaks directly to the issues faced by the hundreds of thousands of hard working people in today’s coal industry.

Jimmy’s one of us.  As a former coal miner from Pineville, Kentucky he knows first hand how important coal jobs are to our families, our communities and our country.

His message is a simple one: our countries coal workers need the same support that they provide for us every day.

We’re proud to be cheering for Jimmy as he looks to become an even bigger star this year on NBC’s America’s Got Talent and we hope you’ll join us in supporting him.

Just The Beginning

The negative impacts of the EPA’s proposed regulations are already being felt by American workers.

Citing the cost of compliance with current and future regulations, FirstEnergy Corp. announced its plan to decommission two coal-fueled power plants in Pennsylvania: Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Masontown and Mitchell Power Station in Courtney.

FirstEnergy Corp. was already working to make these plants cleaner and more efficient – investing nearly $1 billion in environmental controls at Hatfield’s Ferry.

The technology at Hatfield’s Ferry included current supercritical technology and massive scrubber modules on all three units, increasing efficiency and reducing sulfur-dioxide emissions by 98 percent.

The company’s initial estimate is that about 380 plant employees and generation-related positions will be impacted by the need to shutter the plants in the face of onerous regulations.

It’s not just these two plants in Pennsylvania and it won’t just be those 380 American workers. Already, 294 coal unit closures across 33 states have been announced as a result of EPA policies.

For more information about these Coal Unit Shutdowns, check out our most recent research document.

Independence Day and Energy Independence

Happy Fourth of July.

As we spend time with our families and friends celebrating our nation’s birthday, America’s Power is pausing to think about the future of our energy independence.

Last week, the administration rolled out its plan for the future of energy policy and its implied intent to significantly reduce the supply or reliable and affordable coal-fueled energy is putting our energy independence at risk.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle are standing up to keep coal a part of America’s energy future and help us move towards energy independence.

An “all-of-the-above” approach is essential to helping our country move closer to energy independence.

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): “America needs an ‘all of the above’ energy vision, not a ‘what President Obama thinks is best for us’ dictate. We should be harvesting and using all of the abundant natural resources our great nation has been blessed with: coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydropower – and we’ll figure out where wind and solar fit into this vision too. We can, and should be, energy independent.” (Op-Ed, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), “Keep Coal In Energy Mix,” The Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register, 7/3/13)

Senator Joe Manchin joined Rep. Johnson in his call for an approach that includes all of our resources to achieve energy independence.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “Moving forward, achieving true energy independence demands that we not only start realizing the importance that coal has in achieving this goal, it means we must also stop demonizing one resource and start developing a comprehensive plan that utilizes all of our domestic resources – coal, natural gas, biomass, nuclear, wind and solar – so that we can, once and for all, end our dependence on foreign oil within this generation.” (“Achieving Energy Independence,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Accessed 7/3/13)

We stand with Sen. Manchin and Rep. Johnson in their efforts to move America towards energy independence using all of our available resources.

It’s About Jobs

The coal-based electricity industry supports 760,000 jobs in the U.S. and enacting a new energy policy that puts these jobs at risk could have harmful and lasting consequences for our economy and our families.

It would be easy to see this as a partisan issue, to assume that Republicans are lining up to oppose the administration’s efforts and Democrats are standing behind the plan, but that’s not the case.

Last week, Senator Jay Rockefeller(D-WV) expressed his concerns about possible regulations:

I’m deeply concerned that, in it’s current form, there’s not enough emphasis in the President’s plan on the people who are the backbone of our economy and the fabric of our nation.” (Sen. Jay Rockefeller, “Rockefeller Releases Statement On President’s Climate Change Speech,” Press Release, 6/25/13)

Sen. Rockefeller isn’t the only leader concerned that a misguided plan could be damaging to the coal workers who power our economy.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) also pointed out the potential impact regulations could have on our communities:

We must reduce our carbon usage wisely through regulations that properly phase in new requirements over time and don’t unduly impact communities that rely on coal production.” (Sen. Tim Kaine, “Kaine Statement on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan”, Press Release, 6/25/13)

The wrong policies could have serious impact on American jobs. Risking the 760,000 coal jobs isn’t something we take lightly. As Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said:

It is just so irresponsible. We’re looking for an all-in energy policy that basically secures our nation, makes us less dependent on foreign oil or foreign energy. And we can do that, but we’ve got to use everything we have, in balance with the environment and economy. That’s all we ever said. … They’re declaring war truly on jobs, on American jobs.” (Fox News’ ” Special Report,” 6/25/13)

We need an all-in approach, we need to keep energy reliable and affordable, and we need to protect the jobs of hardworking Americans.

EPA’s Climate Plan Must Consider Impact on Workers and Consumers

In the wake of President Obama’s major climate plan speech last week, Americans everywhere have been wondering what the real cost of his energy agenda will be.

Virginia Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli hit the nail squarely on the head when he said:

“What it really is when it comes to the people, it’s a war on the poor.  That’s what it is.”

Cuccinelli continued: “The loss of opportunity and job creation affects the poorest parts of America and the poorest parts of Virginia the most.

Coinciding with Cuccinelli’s honest assessment of the Administration’s forthcoming policies was a study by from the Heritage Foundation describing the economic impact of the proposed plan.

According to Heritage the President’s plan could result in:

  • Employment falls by more than 500,000 jobs;
  • Manufacturing loses over 280,000 jobs;
  • A family of four’s annual income drops more than $1,000 per year, and its total income drops by $16,500 over the period of analysis;
  • Aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) decreases by $1.47 trillion;
  • Electricity prices rise by 20 percent;
  • Coal-mining jobs drop 43 percent; and
  • Natural gas prices rise 42 percent.

This isn’t just about numbers, regulations, or damaging policy agendas, it’s about real people.   Yesterday on Fox News Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke with two West Virginia coal industry workers about the impact the President’s plan would have on their jobs and their families.

The coal-fueled electricity industry has demonstrated its commitment to the environment by investing more than $100 billion, so far, to produce cleaner electricity, and the industry will invest another $100 billion to reduce its environmental footprint even further over the next 15 years. This is new plan is clearly about the putting politics over good policy, elevating the president’s environmental activist friends before American families and the economy.