Archive for June, 2014

Advocating for America’s Power: Week 3

I am back again, energy enthusiasts, and as promised have brought more information. I took a look last week at international reactions to EPA’s new carbon regulations, with a specific focus on Canada and Australia. This week my fellow intern, Joe Singh, and I analyze another area of the globe. Joe has a background in economic policy analysis and is helping ACCCE research the global coal market. As I mentioned last week, EPA’s costly new plan would have virtually no effect on climate change, with less than 1 percent in carbon reductions. The Obama Administration understands this, but believes that if they lead by example carbon-emitting nations like China and India will follow. In his research, Joe points out that assuming these nations will follow our lead is contrary to the growing coal consumption in both these nations.

China, the world’s largest coal consumer with one of the fastest growing economies, has said it will set emission limits. Make no mistake, however, China is not exactly following the administration’s approach. The EPA set state by state targets that would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric sector by 30 percent by 2030. China, on the other hand, has instead adopted an emissions intensity target. This emissions intensity target would limit the amount of COemitted for every dollar of economic activity in China, on average. The reason for using emissions intensity rather than absolute emissions is to allow economic growth, which China wishes to maintain. In Joe’s research, he cites an Australian National University report which found that if China maintains its economic growth, even with a significant emissions intensity target in place, COemissions will still grow. Put simply, even if China can meet the targets it sets, its continued economic growth will still result in increased COemissions – not less.

The results of future international negotiations on climate change are uncertain. One can look to the past, however, to provide clues for potential future actions.  In two recent international climate negotiations, agreements could not be reached because of defiance conflict between the developing and developed world. The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, because it exempted developing nations, like China, from reducing their emissions.  Chinese officials claimed that it was “unfair to expect impoverished people in…developing countries to cut back on energy consumption, which is not even sufficient to meet their basic living conditions.”  China’s resistance to a binding agreement arose again during the Copenhagen conference, which occurred during Obama’s first term in 2009.  In a study available on EPA’s website, Western officials blamed the failure of this conference on China’s opposition to binding global emissions reductions.  This opposition was traced once again to China’s view that emissions reductions are robbing developing nations of their right to industrialize. Considering this climate impasse happened only five years ago, it’s unclear if Chinese willingness to reach a binding agreement has changed.  All of this makes me wonder whether the administration’s plan to reduce COemissions will be enough to overcome a history of failed climate negotiations with China.


One Year Later: Climate Action Plan is #AllPainNoGain

One year ago today, President Obama officially announced his Climate Action Plan, a costly, overreaching and unilaterally implemented executive agenda that will wreak havoc on the American economy. To commemorate the anniversary, we’re delivering festive cupcakes to President Obama. But these cupcakes aren’t celebratory; instead, they have a sobering message—#AllPainNoGain—to demonstrate the plan’s costly consequences, with no payoff.

#AllPainNoGain Macro 440x220px

On today’s one-year anniversary, it’s become crystal clear that the costs of the president’s Climate Action Plan far outweigh any benefits the administration claims. The major outcome from these overreaching regulations out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will unfortunately come in the form of higher utility bills for communities and businesses. And the fact of the matter is that incomes are shrinking in America today, while energy costs are rising. We are already starting to see tangible rate increases that could be a preview of what’s to come.

These frightening real-life examples of cost increases help demonstrate why President Obama and EPA’s regulations for coal-based power plants are #AllPainNoGain. Now that a year has passed since President Obama’s Climate Action Plan roll-out, we are able to see that the administration’s measures carry huge cost for little to no environmental benefit.

In fact, President Obama’s newest regulations are predicted to cost consumers as much as $8.8 billion a year through 2030, while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by a mere four percent—equivalent to decreasing sea level rise by less than the thickness of three sheets of paper—over 100 years.

You’d think we would have learned from the dramatic price swings that occurred this past winter from coast to coast, during which natural gas prices spiked and wholesale energy prices increased. Instead of crossing our fingers and hoping thermometers don’t dip below zero or above ninety, we should maintain fuel diversity and prioritize the use of affordable, stable and domestic energy resources like coal.

Over the course of this week, we’ll be highlighting how regulations rolled out over the past year have resulted in more hurt than help for American communities, and how the climate action plan has truly proven to be #AllPainNoGain.

Help us deliver an anniversary message to President Obama today by sharing this macro on Facebook/Twitter and by using the hashtag #AllPainNoGain.

 


EPA Carbon Rule Based on Questionable Calculations of Energy Demand

Lately, we’ve been taking a hard look at some claims made in the roll-out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulation for existing power plants. An Opinion Editorial I penned was featured in The Hill today, refuting six unsubstantiated claims and questionable facts. We’ve seen the misleading claims and want to make sure the reality of America’s energy situation doesn’t fall to the wayside. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “What’s the Real Cost of the EPA’s Emissions Cap?” demonstrates the faulty logic and fuzzy math employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in setting standards for its greenhouse gas rule.

EPA based its calculations on one fundamentally erroneous assumption: that Americans will use less energy in the future. Conventional wisdom, not to mention the government’s own data, however, tells a very different story. As the piece says, the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently forecast that electricity demand will, in fact, grow 0.9% every year until 2040.

But even if EIA’s data isn’t convincing on its own, conventional wisdom reaffirms that EPA’s postulation falls flat on its face. Simply put, the world in which we live demands more energy. Every day, Americans are using more mobile devices; more electric cars are driving on U.S. roads; and our population continues to rise. And it is low-cost, reliable baseload power from coal that supports economic and societal growth.

EPA is hedging its bets on largely unproven energy efficiency programs that pose enormous cost and implementation challenges. States that have experimented with such measures have yielded, on the whole, less-than-stellar results. The agency’s proposal sets pie-in-the-sky expectations for these programs that, in turn, inflate calculations across the board and set the stage for wholly unrealistic and unachievable standards.

While EPA’s rule clearly misses the mark on many counts, I fear that troubling revelations such as EPA’s calculating method will be unearthed as we more fully probe the measure. EPA needs to get back to reality, readjust its standards using more grounded data and stop misleading the American people about the true costs of its rule.

 


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 2

Well, energy enthusiasts, another exciting week has passed here at ACCCE. My first week was a whirlwind with the announcement of EPA’s new carbon regulations, but my second week was even more interesting. The initial flurry of activity caused by the announcement has quieted and the delusional claims of the administration are being thoroughly scrutinized. Last week, I approached the EPA regulations on a small scale and addressed how they would affect my home region of Eastern Kentucky. During week two, however, I wanted to look beyond our own borders and see how these regulations could play out on the global stage.

As we all know, if implemented, EPA’s regulations on America’s existing coal fleet will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by less than one percent. This is a virtual drop in the global climate change bucket. The Obama administration is acutely aware of this negligible reduction yet claims their plan will lead the world by example.  To examine this claim, I wanted to start with a simple question: is President Obama really leading anyone?

For now, let’s just take a look at our nation’s coal-producing allies, Australia and Canada. Recent statements by the Prime Ministers of Australia and Canada clearly show they have no intention of playing “follow the leader.” Tony Abbott of Australia says he refuses to implement a “job-killing carbon tax” that would “clobber” their economy. Stephen Harper of Canada speaks in a similar vein, stating that there was “no chance” a country would implement policies that would “deliberately harm jobs and growth in their country.” With a yearly cost of $8.8 billion, monumental job loss and virtually no benefit, both Australia and Canada understand what an economically foolish undertaking President Obama’s plan is. In contrast to President Obama’s claims of global leadership on climate change, however, our “leader” is standing alone.  I’ll be on the lookout for other nations weighing-in on this debate and let you know what I learn.

 


EPA’s Proposed Carbon Emissions Rule Has Real Consequences

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed  its long-awaited rule aimed at reducing carbon emissions from America’s existing power plants. If the proposed rule is implemented, it will have enormous and far-reaching costs. By cutting down our use of coal-based power, the Obama Administration and the EPA are burdening our families, businesses and local communities with a less reliable and more costly energy future.

So, what are some of the consequences of the rule? Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard from an array of individuals and organizations who understand how far-reaching the consequences of EPA’s carbon emissions rule will truly be:

It will put electric cooperatives across the country at risk.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jo Ann Emerson: “The potential costs of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations threaten every household and business on a budget, not to mention the ability of electric cooperatives to continue providing reliable and affordable energy.”

It will raise prices for families and business owners.

National Black Chamber Of Commerce President & CEO Harry Alford: “Black business owners have already faced rising energy costs over the past few years, a reality that has undermined their competitiveness in the marketplace. We hope that EPA’s new regulation does not set the stage for even greater energy costs and, instead, helps to foster business growth and job creation in communities across the United States. We will thoroughly examine EPA’s new rule to determine how it stands to impact black businesses and America’s broader economy.”

It will jeopardize America’s competitiveness on the world stage.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons: “As users of one-third of the energy produced in the United States, manufacturers rely on secure and affordable energy to compete in a tough global economy, and recent gains are largely due to the abundance of energy we now enjoy. Today’s proposal from the EPA could singlehandedly eliminate this competitive advantage by removing reliable and abundant sources of energy from our nation’s energy mix. It is a clear indication that the Obama Administration is fundamentally against an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, and unfortunately, manufacturers are likely to pay the price for this shortsighted policy.

It will encourage an overreliance on one source of energy, eliminating the diverse fuel mix needed to maintain price stability and electric reliability.

Arkansas Rural Electric Cooperatives CEO, Duane Highley: “There were gas plant failures, pipeline freezes and wholesale natural gas supply disruptions. Our nation needs and deserves a diverse energy supply portfolio to keep the lights on. By reducing the amount of coal in our generation mix, prices will go up and reliability could go down.’”

Georgia PSC Commissioner Stan Wise: “These overreaching rules trump state authority, put energy users at risk to future price swings, ignores the investments and progress Georgians have made to improve the environment and are a backdoor attempt to force federal renewable energy mandates.”

 

These are just a few of the millions of Americans who know EPA’s proposal rule to cut carbon emissions  is poor policy with costs that far outweigh the benefits. We look forward to sharing more of these opinions over the coming months and encouraging the EPA to listen closely and drastically change their proposed rule accordingly.


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 1

If you are a frequent reader of Behind the Plug, you have never seen my name before and may be wondering who I am. Well fellow energy enthusiasts, I am China Riddle, a native Eastern Kentuckian making her way as an intern in Washington, D.C. I am writing to you from my office at the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), where I have worked for one week. My status as an intern who is new to ACCCE may cause you to be skeptical about the credibility of this blog or my knowledge of energy. There is no need to fret, however, as I know first-hand of what I speak.

Before venturing to our nation’s capital, I grew up in a small town in the heart of coal country – Virgie, KY to be exact. My father worked as a miner for seventeen years – making me a true representation of the popular ‘coal miner’s daughter’ notion – and eventually became a chief electrician. When I was fourteen, my father’s unique set of skills in welding and electricity allowed him to open his own mining equipment refurbishing business called K&R Rebuild. While his business is doing well, the volatility of the coal industry has caused serious difficulty in the past few years – difficulties that almost closed us down, putting my family’s livelihood in peril.

Due to the administration’s actions concerning coal-fueled power plants, the despair my family experienced is increasingly being shared by the people of my region. When you shut down coal-fueled power plants, coal mines are also shut down, which in turn affects businesses like my father’s. As I take steps toward my dreams of attending graduate school and working in Washington, D.C., my heart is still tethered to my home. How can I allow myself to leave while my family, friends and neighbors are left to face the hardship EPA’s regulations will surely bring? The answer for me is working at ACCCE and advocating for America’s Power. It is here that I am able to chase my dreams, while still using my skills and passion to work on the most important issue that my native region is facing. Through my role at ACCCE, I can make my voice heard and ardently advocate against unrealistic policies that will leave entire coal producing regions throughout the U.S. in economic turmoil.

So, energy enthusiasts, you can expect to hear more from me over the next eight weeks. I will be updating you on my journey as I work with the staff here at ACCCE to advocate for coal, our most abundant, affordable and reliable source of electricity. Together we can contest these poorly made policies to keep electricity rates down and our lights on.

- China Riddle, Communications Intern


Continuing to Share Your Stories

Continuing our “Share Your Story” segment, I decided to go to our Facebook page and collect some thoughts that you all were sharing with us in our comments section of our posts. It’s always amazing to see everyone band together towards a more affordable and reliable energy future. Here’s what you all are saying:

“You talk about state’s rights. Here’s an example where states need to enforce their rights. I wonder how much money we could slash from the budget if we could eliminate the EPA.”

If we have another winter like this past one, without the coal fired plants we will have significant power outages. All though the environmentalists in California will not care about the people in the Midwest and Northeast.”

 

In response to our macro for “What does Coal mean to you?”:

 “It means that I will have lights when the sun goes down and Barry is taking that away from us. Electricity will be unaffordable after he is done we will all be back to candles.”

“It means my family will eat, my husband is a good man who works hard in the mines to take care of us and we are so proud of him.”

 

It’s also great to see everyone engaging in conversation on posts as well. This week, in response to our posting of an Associated Press article, you all had a short conversation which was great and I wanted to highlight:

“I can’t imagine our power bills any higher! Southwest Virginia is going to be dead and people will have to move away to get work.”

  • “Same here in eastern Kentucky…My great great great great grandfather walked into eastern Kentucky with Daniel Boone…This is home, I don’t want to leave…..”
  • “It is the same for us in PA too. The last couple of years’ work has been getting worse. My husband has worked in coal most of his life and now at 63 what are we to do?? This government is only hurting the working middle class!!”

“Do you realize that the invention of electricity due to coal has extended life expectancy over the past 150 years? The industry is cleaner today than ever.”

 

Many thanks to everyone on Facebook who continues to be a part of the energy conversation. We will soon be putting out another comment tool so that we can all tell the EPA to Keep America’s Power On.


EPA’s Carbon Emissions Rule Missed the Mark for Americans

Yesterday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy personally announced the long-awaited proposed rule to reduce emissions from America’s existing power plants. This complex rule has a preamble alone of over 600 pages. We are working our way through the text of the regulation, but a few things became clear from the start.

If this rule is allowed to go into effect, the administration for all intents and purposes, is creating America’s next energy crisis. Coal is one of America’s most vital fuel sources, currently providing nearly 40 percent of our nation’s power. It is also far more stable in pricing and supply than other sources. If we turn away from this natural resource now, we will be ill-prepared for America’s energy needs in the coming years. This could lead to rolling brownouts and blackouts, not to mention volatile price spikes for ratepayers year-round.

The expansive, expensive regulatory agenda put forward by EPA has already become a burden for American consumers and our nation’s economy. Contrary to what EPA tells us, it will be costly to our big cities and our small towns, as all communities grapple with less base load power fueling our electricity grid. It will be costly to our low- and middle-income families for whom electricity bills make up a significant amount of their monthly budgets already. They will continue to see those rates rise. And it will be costly to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who will lose their jobs when these regulations go into effect.

Reliable, low-cost power drives America’s economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly tied to the power generation industry. The total cost of the cumulative lost jobs and unemployed American workers are a huge price to pay for negligible environmental improvements.  A recent paper released by ACCCE finds that the climate benefits of reducing carbon from America’s coal fleet are negligible. By 2050, eliminating our coal-based power plants would result in only 1% reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

As I said yesterday, President Obama and EPA have chosen political expediency over practical reality as they unveiled energy standards devoid of commonsense. I look forward to weighing in on this proposed rule over the coming months and hope we can craft a final rule that makes far more sense for American than the one that has been proposed.