Archive for 2014

NASCAR Recap: Chicagoland Speedway

Joliet, Illinois is home to the Chicagoland Speedway, where the race track can be found among hundreds of acres of beautiful, Midwestern farmland. The America’s Power booth was in full swing during this weekend’s NASCAR races there, and since we weren’t ready to feel the effects of fall just yet, the sun came out for us to have a wonderful time and a great weekend of racing.

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The action kicked off on Saturday with the Nationwide races, where we proudly cheered on the #7 Clean Coal car to a top ten finish. I spent the day at the America’s Power booth, which was positively overflowing with people wanting to learn more about the coal industry. Being able to interact with every visitor – hearing their stories or answering their questions about America’s Power – is by far my favorite aspect of working at our display. One supporter we met was excited to promote the use of coal with his America’s Power t-shirt, and was eager to wear it to his job as an electrical engineer.

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While it’s bittersweet that Chicagoland was my last race of 2014, I’m grateful to have met so many of our supporters over the course of the year. It’s meaningful to hear directly from those affected by EPA’s carbon regulations and know that we are doing the right thing. Our EPA comment tool received more than 3,000 signatures from hardworking Americans just this weekend, and that is just the motivation I need to keep fighting for our coal communities.

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America’s Power Team Heads to Illinois

Hi Behind the Plug readers! I recently joined ACCCE as senior director of communications, and I look forward to contributing to the Behind the Plug Blog. Here’s a short preview of what’s in store for us this weekend:

Today, the America’s Power team is heading to Joliet, Illinois for an exciting weekend of NASCAR racing at Chicagoland Speedway. We’re looking forward to cheering on Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Clean Coal Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide series, and meeting other members of the America’s Power team from around the country.

At our booth, we’ll be talking to supporters about the importance of coal-based power to fuel electricity in our homes and businesses. Coal provides nearly 43 percent of Illinois’ electricity and accounts for close to 39,000 jobs. Affordable, reliable power is especially critical to Illinois’ economy, as the state serves as a manufacturing hub with nearly 580,000 workers – or 10 percent of the workforce – employed by the industry as of 2013. Keeping our energy costs low will allow these manufacturers to grow their businesses and hire even more workers throughout the state.

If you’re at the race, come find America’s Power in Champions Park, where Regan Smith will be meeting fans and signing autographs on Saturday September 13th at 10:00 AM CT. And if you’re not at Chicagoland Speedway but will be watching the NASCAR races this weekend, keep an eye out for Regan in the #7 Clean Coal Chevy rounding the track and (fingers crossed) racing to victory.

Orange Regan Smith and Car Macro


The Story of Electricity

Yesterday marked an important anniversary in America’s energy history – 132 years ago, Thomas Edison turned on our country’s first electric grid. Since then, electricity has been a driving force in the growth of America’s economic and social development.

The electric grid crisscrosses our nation, bringing light and power to homes and businesses from coast to coast. Coal has helped power America’s electric grid since 1882 and continues to play an important role today, providing nearly 40 percent of all electricity generated in the country.

To show just how impressive the electric grid really is, the Institute for Energy Research launched the Story of Electricity initiative yesterday:

With new EPA regulations putting the future of coal in jeopardy, the question facing us today is whether the United States’ power grid can adequately provide reliable, affordable electricity if coal is regulated out of existence. The unequivocal answer: absolutely not. The continued use of coal in our energy mix is critical to keep the lights on in America’s homes and businesses.

To keep our nation on the path toward an ever-brighter future powered by safe, affordable and reliable electricity, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.com and take action today.


President Obama’s Record: Bypassing Congress Time & Time Again

President Obama has become famous for his track record of bypassing Congress while in office, especially when it comes to achieving his regulatory agenda. According to the Washington Times, the president has worked around lawmakers 40 times this year, and a White House official recently said that the president would not let Congress stand in the way of any progress to be made. Is this how our forefathers envisioned our democratic process working?

Unfortunately, the president’s 2014 crusade of executive orders is far from over. As the administration prepares for climate talks in Paris next year, the president is looking to make a deal that would persuade other nations to reduce their carbon footprint. This informal treaty, which would commit other countries to meeting certain reduction goals at the risk of public embarrassment, would not have to be ratified by the Senate (where it would likely fail). Countries such as China and India refuse to sign such an agreement as it would hinder their economic development, and other national leaders have come out against the proposal. Recently, Prime Ministers Tony Abbott of Australia and Stephen Harper of Canada stated that they will not be following Obama’s lead, refusing to take actions that would deliberately harm jobs and economic growth.

I am beginning to wonder when the American people will come before the president’s pride during his last years in office. Why do we need to pay the price for years to come just so the president can fulfill his own environmental legacy? President Obama can put us on a better track for the future by withdrawing these harmful carbon regulations and sparing his constituents the financial burden—especially when the only gain is a reduction in sea level by less than five sheets of paper.


Message to EPA on Labor Day: Policies Must Create Jobs, Not Eliminate Them

Yesterday, American workers enjoyed a much-deserved day of rest. Here at America’s Power, we believe that job creation should be a national priority, and our advocacy efforts seek to protect and strengthen America’s workforce.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and EPA are pursuing a regulatory agenda that will have the exact opposite effect and if EPA’s proposed carbon regulations are left unchallenged, many workers will face a much more permanent break from work: unemployment.

EPA has repeatedly made the dubious claim that these new regulations for America’s power plants will create jobs through the construction and management of new energy efficient facilities. But America’s Power has done the math, and we can tell you that this assertion is simply not true. In fact, EPA’s proposed regulations stand to cause widespread job losses across many sectors of the U.S. economy.

What EPA fails to mention is that these construction jobs are only temporary, and few will be maintained once the facilities are built. More so, EPA completely neglected to address, let alone calculate, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that its proposal will eliminate.

America’s coal industry is a proven driver of economic development in cities and towns from coast to coast. Coal mining alone employs more than 80,000 Americans, with hundreds of thousands additional jobs tied to coal production through the manufacturing, electricity, and transportation industries.  It’s these skilled, high-quality jobs that EPA is going after. A myth-busting study by America’s Power revealed that, based on a proposal similar to EPA’s, as many as 178,000 jobs will be lost each year.

Yet, these estimates don’t even account for the job losses that will result from skyrocketing electricity prices for businesses across the U.S. Under EPA’s proposal, the agency will essentially bully states into choosing more expensive, less reliable energy sources in lieu of using affordable coal-based power. This costly switch will ultimately trickle down to businesses and force business owners to face a difficult decision: meet their payroll or pay their utility bills.

The facts don’t lie, and EPA’s proposal is putting America on a dangerous course toward job losses we can’t afford.

Join us in protecting America’s workforce – visit www.KeepAmericasPoweron.org to tell EPA that you support policies that create jobs, not eliminate them.


Another Type of Friday Night Lights: Bristol Recap

Last weekend, I made the drive to the southwest tip of the Virginia triangle to Bristol Motor Speedway. Dubbed the “world’s fastest half-mile,” Bristol looks pretty majestic when driving up from the country hills of Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. We hit the ground running on Friday morning at the track, which was much busier and more crowded than the last race I attended. Despite the heat, we had more than a thousand visitors stop by the America’s Power booth to learn about the proposed EPA regulations and their potential impact on our country. It was a rewarding experience to spread the word about the work we’re doing, and the ways people can join the fight. It was also wonderful meeting retired coal miners from our member companies as well as other members of the coal community and hearing their stories. One man, who described how much coal meant to him as a worker for the railroads, hugged me at the end of our conversation and said he was thankful that a group like ACCCE stood up for the little guys in the fight. Times like those reassure me that I’m in the right place, fighting for the right cause.

The Crowd in Bristol

During our busy afternoon, our driver Regan Smith and his pit crew came by our booth for an autograph signing. We had loud cheers in the tent as everyone was ecstatic to see the #2 driver in the Nationwide standings. Regan loves meeting his fans and they love him — we really are fortunate to have the best driver in NASCAR wear our colors proudly! Regan raced the #7 Breyer’s car that night, but it was great to see some of the pit crew walking around with our America’s Power t-shirts on before they had to change into their fire suits.

 

Regan Signing Autographs

7 Pit Crew

The half-mile track certainly proved to be the fastest lap I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t hurt that Dale Jr. was in our pit for the entire race! That was definitely a treat. Regan ended up finishing 5th, maintaining his position as #2 in the overall standings and currently trailing his teammate Chase Elliott by 13 points. I had such a great time meeting new people (and seeing them sport our apparel!), educating other on what we do and what we stand for, as well as staying for the race. Bristol was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to do it again at Chicagoland in three weeks!

 


Spotlight on Bristol

Our hearts are racing in anticipation of the NASCAR races this weekend. Our favorite drivers and teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Regan Smith, will be zooming around the track in what also happens to be one of our favorite cities – Bristol!

Bristol is really unique, as it lies in both Tennessee and Virginia and is coal country’s epicenter in Southwest Virginia. For these two states and their shared city, the affordable electricity provided by coal has long powered homes, businesses and innovation. In Virginia, nearly 30 percent of electricity is generated by coal-fueled power, while Tennessee uses an even greater amount: 41 percent. In 2013, both states boasted electricity prices significantly lower than the national average. Affordable electricity powered by coal enabled homes and business across the region to keep costs down.

Bristol Motor Speedway may have one of the shortest racetracks in the country, but the crowd capacity is over 160,000, making the race this weekend one of NASCAR’s best! When the sun sinks below the horizon, you know the night race is about to start and you can be sure that low-cost, reliable electricity from coal will help keep the lights shining on the track as all-star drivers like Dale Jr. and Regan speed around the track.

If you’ll be at Bristol Motor Speedway, be sure to visit the America’s Power display in the Fan Zone! We’ll be hosting autograph signing sessions with Regan and the #7 pit crew. On Friday, August 22nd, Regan will be meeting fans and signing autographs from 2:30-3:00PM and the pit crew will do the same from 5:30-6:00PM. If you can’t make it to the race, don’t worry! There’s another opportunity to chat with Regan – we’re hosting a twitter chat this Thursday, August 21st from 5:40-6:00PM ET. Participate by tweeting your question that includes the hashtag #AskAmericasPower.

America’s Power is thrilled to claim Regan, Dale Jr. and supporters like you as members of our team. Like we proudly support them on the track, Regan and Dale Jr. proudly join us to support America’s most abundant, reliable, and affordable fuel source. We wish them the best of luck!


Lack of Transparency at EPA

The subject of EPA’s lack of transparency really struck a note with me a couple months ago when I read a piece in the Daily Caller about reporters being constantly frustrated with EPA’s failure to go on the record when coming out with a major climate rule.  According to the article, EPA held a background briefing call with reporters to discuss the next steps in their regulatory agenda but then wouldn’t answer any questions on the matters at hand. Who actually schedules a press call and then doesn’t take questions from credentialed media? It would be one thing if these were one-off calls, but scheduled “on-the-record” briefings where officials can’t be identified by name?  I can only wonder if that’s because people within EPA are afraid that their facts are wrong or that they don’t dare get any personal ink for fear of internal retribution. Regardless of the answer, it’s bizarre and interestingly not a new thing.

Apparently, EPA has had these non-credible background briefing calls since the days of Administrator Lisa Jackson. My favorite quote in Mike Bastasch’s article is from Beth Parke from the Society of Environmental Journalists: “We journalists are personally accountable for what we report about EPA’s actions. Why aren’t your staff members just as accountable for what they tell us? End this insidious practice, which only reinforces public cynicism about a nameless, faceless, feckless federal bureaucracy.”

Unfortunately for EPA, Bastasch’s piece wasn’t the last article on the matter. In July, there was another story about EPA taking three months to respond to reporters and failing to give an “on the record” interview with Janet McCabe. In August, there was an Associated Press article about EPA’s scientific advisors not being allowed to speak with the media, and having their media requests being funneled elsewhere. It seems EPA doesn’t want to accept all of the consequences of their radical regulations, which includes speaking on the record to members of the press regarding said regulations. If the EPA is so confident that their agenda will stand up to the light of day, why aren’t they letting the sunshine in? Considering the fact that thanks to these ill-conceived regulations American jobs and competitiveness will be lost and that all of us will pay the ultimate cost of skyrocketing electricity prices and questionable power when it is most needed, I understand why they are hiding in the shadows. Trust me folks, that’s where I’d be too.