Advocating for America’s Power: What I Learned at ACCCE

Posted by Joe Singh at 10:14 am, July 17, 2014

Hello, energy enthusiasts. I’m Joe, the Federal Affairs & Policy intern. While I collaborated with China on an earlier post (that illustrated the symbiotic relationship between policy and communications quite nicely), this is my first time talking to you directly. Along with China and our fellow intern Ashari, I’ve been charged to write up a post summing up what I learned this summer as we wind toward the conclusion of our time at ACCCE.

I’ve been privileged, first and foremost, to work with a brilliant and eclectic group of people in Federal Affairs. They’ve been warm, friendly and accessible, in addition to being generous with their time. I’ve also been able to watch them ply their trade, and I can assure any coal enthusiast that as a unit ACCCE’s Federal Affairs team really is among the best in the business.

The best part has been ACCCE’s embracing of my own interests, encouraging me to grow as a researcher instead of saddling me with work no one else wants to do. My family is from India, and I was born there before immigrating to the United States. Much of my academic work to this point has thus centered on Asia, and to my surprise the Federal Affairs department readily allowed me to pursue coal research in India and China. I’ve had the responsibility of producing international research for ACCCE’s use where there was little before, and I hope I succeeded in that to some degree.

I’ve been able to conduct intensive and exhaustive research on international coal policy, production, consumption and compliance. I was able to pursue my interests in energy economics and particularly in data-driven analysis, and I hope my output can measure up to Federal Affairs’ high standards. Above all, between the number crunching and report writing, I learned just how tightly bound countries are in our modern world. Coal is, across the planet, keeping the lights on, and is just one of many truly global issues that will define this century.

Above all, this summer humanized coal. Growing up in the urban northeast, coal was never a hot-button issue for me. When I did learn about it, it was usually in the context of how carbon emissions were destroying the planet in high school, or the economics of coal pricing in college. I had never known people who were pro-coal and had deep personal ties to it. Above all, I had—unconsciously—bought into the idea that you were for the environment or against it, and if you were against it you’d traded your soul for a hefty wallet. That’s not how DC works, and ACCCE has shown me that there are no good or bad people and no black or white issues. The best we can do is believe in something strongly enough to stand in its defense, and fight for it using every tool available to us. That’s the spirit driving ACCCE forward, and I’m honored to have spent a summer watching it in action.

If I may end with a quotation, here’s one of my favorites from Irish novelist Oliver Goldsmith. “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.” As I leave ACCCE, full of gratitude and optimism, that is what I wish upon everyone here: in an industry with a target on its back, they get up just one more time than they’re knocked down. Knowing the people here, I’m sure they will.

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