Archive for May, 2014

Gearing Up for EPA’s Most Menacing Rule to Date

Monday, June 2nd is the day when EPA has said it will release its proposed regulations for existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. We fear that an overly stringent rule will be proposed that will seek to enact poor policy that fails to prioritize American consumers and businesses.

While Gina McCarthy has been touting EPA’s efforts to receive stakeholder input on the rule, she has entirely neglected the communities that will be hardest hit by EPA’s regulations for coal-based power plants. Even though she promised Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that she would visit West Virginia—a state that will be hard hit by EPA’s regulations—that has yet to happen.

It is important that EPA listens to communities not just in West Virginia but across the country. Coal provides power generation, jobs and economic development that cross all state lines. Coal-based power is our most abundant, stable form of energy, and it keeps electricity rates low. The costs of reducing our dependence on this domestic resource will be far-reaching, putting our nation’s economy and electric reliability at risk.

Several studies have demonstrated EPA regulations’ potentially profound costs, including a study by ACCCE and a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Our study, conducted with NERA Economic Consulting, revealed that a proposal by the NRDC’s to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plans  will carry a high price tag of 2.85 million lost jobs and $13 to $17 billion in added costs to consumers each year from 2018-2033. Further detailing the problems with the regulations, our newest paper finds that the climate benefits of reducing carbon from the nation’s coal fleet are trivial. For example, eliminating America’s entire coal fleet by 2050 would result in a 1% reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration, a reduction of 1/20th of a degree in warming and a reduction of 1/25th of an inch in sea level rise – that’s equal to less than a thickness of a dime.

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its study that looked at a suite of EPA regulations including the same NRDC proposal for existing power plants and also demonstrated huge costs to our economy and to consumers. The Chamber’s study found enormous costs, including 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average each year and $51 billion decrease in U.S. GDP each year through 2030.

Numbers don’t lie: EPA regulations have already cost our country jobs and economic output, and this 111(d) regulation for existing power plants will do the same. We’re gearing up for Monday’s announcement and will ensure that EPA hears our voice and our supporters’ voices in the coming weeks and months as we stand with America’s most abundant, affordable and reliable power source – coal.

 


Clean Air Month: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Visits Mississippi’s Kemper County Energy Facility

America’s Power has teamed up with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. again, this time highlighting the advancements in clean coal technology to improve emissions.

Since May is Clean Air Month, we visited the Kemper County Energy Facility in Kemper County, Mississippi with Dale Jr. Kemper is one of the cleanest coal plants in the world. By using the most advanced admissions technologies at work in the U.S., Kemper will be able to power the local community in Mississippi cleaner than ever before. Not only is Kemper utilizing cutting edge technology, but it is also investing in the community by boosting local economic activity, increasing tax revenue, hiring local workers and more.

While at Kemper we got to see first-hand the advanced carbon capture technology they are putting into action. Carbon is separated and transported, in Kemper’s case to local oil fields where it is used in the enhanced oil recovery process.

Just like Dale Jr. says in the video, coal is America’s power and works to keep utility costs low and stable in homes and businesses. Dale Jr. himself is a business owner and understands the importance of reliable and affordable electricity to any business’ operations.

We’re proud to partner with Dale Jr. and spread the word about innovative clean coal technologies like those at work at Kemper. Be sure to check out our most recent video and visit www.AmericasPower.org to learn more:

 


CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery: What it is and why it’s important.

Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, is an important technology for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants and other industrial sources.  CCS is a three part process wherein, CO2, a greenhouse gas, is captured from a plant’s emissions stream, transported in a pipeline, and stored in the subsurface.  While the technology holds significant promise, it is many years from being commercially available.  As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its industrial partners undertake efforts to demonstrate the technology, most projects look to CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to store their captured CO2.

Basics of CO2-EOR:

Some oilfields that have gone through conventional oil production are amenable to processes that produce additional oil.  One such process is the injection of CO2 into the depleted oilfield.  Injected CO2 helps produce additional oil by raising the pressures of the formation which holds the oil and by reacting with the oil, making it easier to move.  When the oil and CO2 are produced at the surface, the CO2 is separated from the oil and re-injected into the formation.  Some CO2 remains in the subsurface permanently.  CO2-EOR operations tend to operate like closed-loop system, with CO2 either remaining in the subsurface, or being re-injected instead of being released into the atmosphere.  The EOR industry has several decades of experience conducting CO2-EOR operations with CO2 from naturally occurring sources.

Potential for CO2-EOR:

As part of the DOE’s effort to develop CCS technology, it published the fourth updated of their “United States Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas” (Atlas).  The Atlas attempts to quantify the amount of CO2 storage resource in various geologies across the U.S. and Western Canada.  DOE estimates that nearly 250 billion tons of CO2 can be stored in depleted oil and gas formations.  This estimate does not account for economic or regulatory barriers that will limit the number of fields amenable to CO2-EOR.  It is worth noting that around two thirds of this potential is in the southwestern United States.

Regulatory Framework of CO2-EOR:

All injections in the US are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Pursuant to that law, EPA has promulgated regulations for CO2-EOR operations through their Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Responsibility for implementing these regulations, commonly referred to as “Class II” regulations, has been delegated to state agencies in most instances.  These regulations cover construction and operation conditions, as well as other aspects of CO2-EOR operations.  Additional regulation of CO2-EOR operations is part of EPA’s broader effort to quantify CO2 emissions across the economy, the Mandatory Reporting Rule.  For each sector of the economy, EPA has developed a different subpart.  For CO2-EOR, EPA has promulgated the tiered approach of subparts RR and UU.  For conventional CO2-EOR operations, the less rigorous subpart UU applies.  Subpart RR requires more robust monitoring for those operators that are required to provide additional monitoring data because they seek to permanently store CO2.

Importance of EOR in Demonstrating CCS:

CO2-EOR is playing an important role in the demonstration of CCS technology at coal-fueled power plants.  DOE is supporting five CCS demonstration projects at coal-fueled power plants.  Of those five projects, four plan to integrate CO2-EOR as the storage component of the project, including the only project that is under construction.  The reason is simple, project developers can be paid by EOR operators for the CO2 that they generate.  This economic benefit is important to the technology development because it can begin to reduce the overall cost of implementing a CCS project.  The revenue from CO2-EOR, however, is not enough to account for the approximately $1 billion cost of installing CCS on a single 600 MW coal-fueled power plant.  In combination with grants and tax incentives, CO2-EOR plays an significant role in demonstrating this important technology.

 

Visit www.AmericasPower.org to learn more about clean coal technology and how coal is fueling the future of American energy.


From Their Point of View, Vol. 2

In continuing with our shared stories series, please see below for some excerpts from concerned citizens voicing their fears on the proposed EPA regulations on America’s existing coal fleet scheduled to be announced on June 2nd. If overly stringent, as we suspect, these proposed regulations will force the retirement of hundreds of coal-fired plants as well as eliminate jobs and cause skyrocketing electricity prices for families and business throughout the country.

“People need to wake up. Sure the EPA and greens are griping about oil and gas, but not like they are coal… With the oil and gas companies pumping so much money into our government officials, the EPA , Sierra Club and the media, we hardly have a chance. A lot of the pollution we are blamed for belongs to someone else. Signed, A Proud 37 year Coal Miner “

“How about turning the tables and start investigating how these people live their lives… cars they drive, how they heat their homes, if they have cookout,  [have a] smart car… is it electric?????”

This was my personal favorite recently. I truly do wonder with all those that have a smart car who advocate against coal—when you plug your car in to the wall, what do you think is powering it??

And simply:

“We need to protect our coal industry….take a stand in helping our coal jobs for the good of this country and for the many jobs we need to protect….”

Rumor has it that the President himself will be delivering the rule on June 2nd. Here’s to hoping that in the end, those that are behind powering this great nation will be spared by these overreaching regulations.


New York Times Article Misses the Mark on EPA Regulations

Just under a month ago, The New York Times ran an article by Coral Davenport, “Keystone Pipeline May Be Big, but This Is Bigger,” that missed the biggest thing of all.

Despite six years of study, President Obama has decided to further delay the Keystone pipeline and has, instead, set his sights on carbon regulations. Now, he is hastily jamming through unworkable rules in order to fulfill his political legacy; rules that will cost consumers billions of dollars, threaten U.S. jobs, and weaken the broader economy.

Interestingly in a different article published the same week, the Times reported on the poverty still plaguing Appalachia, citing the decline of the coal industry as one of the principal reasons. Now, Ms. Davenport’s piece reports that Obama’s EPA rules could shut down 600 more coal plants and put nearly 78,000 miners out of work.

What the Times has failed to do is connect the dots. If things are bad now, how much worse will they become when these rules are enacted? And what exactly is the plan to help the people in these impoverished regions, not to mention the millions of Americans who will pay higher energy costs?

The industry has invested $118 billion in new technologies that have reduced emissions more than 90 percent and it will spend another $27 billion through 2016 to reduce emissions even more. But instead of working with the industry for the benefit of all Americans, President Obama is determined to shut out the lights on working-class families.


My Day at Century Mine

Last week, I paid a visit to St. Clairsville, Ohio, home to Murray Energy Corporation and Century Mine—one of several Murray enterprises. It was my first mine visit, and I’m certainly hoping it won’t be my last. The day started with a personal briefing by Mr. Murray, where we learned about the subsidiaries of Murray Energy Corporation and how his business came into fruition 26 year ago. We then toured a bit of the countryside seeing Ohio Valley Coal and American Energy Corporation in Belmont County before arriving at Century. Mr. Murray detailed for us the many aspects of his operations, imparting his personal wisdom along the way; which I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable it was, especially for a newbie like me.

Murray Mine Group Picture

After getting suited up in our gear and having our safety briefing, we took a quick elevator ride about 400 feet into the earth. When arriving into the actual mine, we took a mine transportation vehicle about six or seven miles into the mine, where we made several stops.  Century Mine opened in 2000, so it was interesting to see how much progress has been made since its inception. The highlights of the visit were seeing the longwall and the continuous miner. There aren’t really words to describe what we saw—the longwall sitting just a couple hundred feet away from us was plowing through the earth and produced an insane amount of coal in just minutes. The efficiency was incredible, and watching the coal pass by on the conveyor belt was a treat. The continuous miner is not as efficient or quick as a longwall, but it gets the job done and is still an amazing piece of technology. We watched the miner drill into the wall and shoot the coal back onto a vehicle that transported it to the conveyor belt. It sounds like a simple process, and the miners made it look easy, but I knew it was nothing of the sort.

photo

 

The best part of all of this was that Mr. Murray was giving us the tour himself. You could see his dedication and passion for this industry as well as the well-being of his miners. The people in his mines and community mean the world to him, and it’s evident how much he cares about their safety. Mr. Murray built his company on faith and commitment, and he remains committed today. He cares about people’s jobs and their families and knows how important it is to provide job security in communities where there is too often none. I never would have thought that I would get to spend so much quality time with the CEO of a company, and get to ask him the questions that we did and learn from his work ethic. It was an experience that I know won’t ever be replicated.

 

Probably the most important thing that I’ll take away from this visit is that I got to see a part of the industry that I work to promote and defend. It puts a whole new perspective on what’s really at stake and what the administration is NOT telling people about the consequences of its actions to take coal-based energy out of the mix. My new perspective will be instrumental in helping me carry out our mission, and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to broaden my horizons.  Thank you to everyone at Murray Energy who helped to make our day truly special. I look forward to the next visit!

 


Tomorrow: Let Your Voice Be Heard on the Future of Coal

Tomorrow, Friday May 9th, is the last and final day that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments on its proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal- and gas-fueled power plants. Once the comment period ends, the debate will certainly continue on this stringent and unprecedented regulation; but the end of the comment period also means that EPA will begin writing its final rule, making your input during the home stretch all the more critical.

In September 2013, the proposed rule for new coal-based power plants was released to cheers from environmentalists and extreme concern on the part of the coal industry, advocates of clean coal technology and consumers. NSPS, as proposed, will place a de facto ban on any new coal-fueled power plant in the United States, effectively halting development of cleaner coal technologies in their tracks. It will also hamper America’s leadership on building advanced new power plants that use our nation’s most abundant energy resource, coal, to generate low-cost electricity.

Since the rule’s initial release, we have seen an outpouring of support from a broad array of stakeholders across the nation. Consumers and businesses know that advanced coal-based power plants are critical to our nation’s energy supply now and will continue to hold the key to a secure energy future.

Advocates for cleaner, more advanced technologies to limit emissions from coal-based power plants have also lamented the rule’s stringent guidelines that require the use of a technology that is far from ready. The regulation would require new power plants to use carbon capture and storage, a process that is in the early stages of development and has not been put to use on a commercial scale. We are continuing to learn about and develop this technology, but experts and industry leaders agree it is not yet ready for “primetime.”

And to make matters worse, we are bracing for the next round of EPA regulations for existing coal-based power plants, set to be released on or before June 1st. Just yesterday, the National Mining Association released an eye-opening poll, which found that 76 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that new EPA regulations will lead directly to higher energy costs.

Coal is our nation’s most affordable, reliable source of electricity, and we must ensure that overreaching EPA regulations do not rob us of this valuable resource, costing us all higher electricity bills, lost jobs and unreliable power in the process. That is why it is so important that we make our voices heard over the next 36 hours before EPA closes the door on discussion of this important issue.

Visit www.EPARegsCostJobs.com today to join us and tell the EPA to protect our economic and energy future.


From Their Point of View

Most of the time, we receive a lot of spam in our general mailbox from solicitors. But every so often, we get a heartfelt email from a concerned citizen, showing support of our cause and for the coal industry. I wanted to share some excerpts with you to help those who may not be as aware how much these proposed EPA regulations will affect these communities.

 

“I sign and support coal jobs for many reasons. My husband was a coal miner for 22 years and my father-in-law was a miner for almost 40 years, and a lot of other people I know are miners. Another reason is to help the miners to fight Obama ending coal jobs…. The more we fight, the longer it takes for him to fulfill his agenda. I hate what Obama is doing to OUR country. I love my country and support the hard working people, coal jobs, and most of all Our Troops.”

“Coal mining is all we have to make a living and pay our bills– also food, everyone has to eat, what are we supposed to do? …[We] need coal for lights to stay on and keep warm in the winter. It will kill these states and everyone will be on welfare.”

“My husband and son, both work at a coal plant, along with a lot of good friends here in PA. Why does the government have to get involved and try and take these jobs away from the American people? Also, we have coal heat in our house and garage, which is much warmer than any other resource of heat! Coal has been around for a very long time, keep it that way!”

 

There are many more comments like those above from affected coal miners, truckers, family members and consumers who fear the skyrocketing electricity bills that are headed their way. To protect affordable electricity, use our comment tool before May 9 and send a comment to the EPA at: www.EPAregscostjobs.com.

Please continue sharing your stories with us! We enjoy hearing from you.