Spotlight on Bristol

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:35 am, August 21, 2014

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

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 9:01 am, August 19, 2014

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.

 


Continuing to Share Your Stories

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 12:36 pm, August 14, 2014

Continuing with our Share Your Story initiative, I wanted to pull some more excerpts from what you all are sharing on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you! Please feel free to go to the Share Your Story page and submit a short story on what coal means to you. It may get featured on our page!

As you can see from the folks below, coal is more than just an energy source. It’s a way of life: a job, shelter, food on the table for your family. With these EPA regulations, coal communities are being threatened by regulatory overreach and will ultimately be devastated. Electricity bills for some have already doubled, coal-fired plants have already endured layoffs and small businesses have suffered. If you want to protect our most reliable and affordable energy source, go to www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org and sign our comment tool to tell the EPA that you oppose these regulations.

“I started working in a coal mine when I was 15– best job and people to work with. The only thing that will change from not using coal isn’t clean air– its loss of jobs, homes, and families moving to find jobs, it’s hard to pay for things where you live now and then where you move to also. Can’t [easily] be done and survive with a family.”

“I work at a coal fired power plant helping to keep the lights on for the folks who don’t like coal. Kind of ironic.”

“Both of my grandfathers were miners, my dad retired from the mines, and I retired from the mines after 40 years of service. Coal pays my retirement and now my son is a miner. Coal is not only a way of life for this family; it is the backbone of what made this country great. The war on coal is a war on the strength and liberty of this once great country.”

“I work in a coal fired power plant. For the 3rd time in three years, we are bracing for layoffs because we have to cut costs to remain profitable in Obama’s war on coal. I nearly lost my job in the last one (had to transfer to another plant 200 miles away), and it remains to be seen if I will survive this round. My wife and my three year old son depend on coal!”

“My wife’s father and three brothers were miners here in Southeast Kentucky! Now, because of EPA, our town is dying! Stores are closing. Restaurants are laying off because of so many miners are not able to spend like they did before! Mining was a good, honest living! It provided not only for the families of the workers, but for entire communities! Some former miners are finding new jobs, but they have to move away for them! It’s a shame that a bunch of tree huggers have to destroy an honest and traditional living for so many good Americans!”

“Other than the fact that it provides power, that I am noticing many take for granted. I don’t have a story but I do know if it weren’t for the miners and the power stations that use coal, we would be in the dark.”

 


Advanced Energy for Life: Keeping the Lights On Worldwide

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 9:01 am, August 12, 2014

Last week, 50 heads of state from Africa gathered in Washington, D.C. for the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Among the many topics of conversation, eradicating poverty throughout the continent was a frequently voiced goal. One key component to achieving this goal, particularly in Africa’s sub-Saharan region, is increasing access to affordable electricity.

President Obama pledged to boost U.S. spending for his Power Africa initiative to $300 million annually in order to bring electricity access to 60 million homes and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa through “clean energy” and infrastructure development programs.  Upon his announcement, we questioned the efficacy of the president’s commitment as it runs contrary to his actions, which speak louder than words. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has not only vowed to eradicate the use of coal  both abroad and domestically but has taken decisive steps to ensure that coal-based power, which  is critical to electrification in the developing world, is kept out of reach by encouraging leading financial investors to not fund coal-based power generation.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank said during the summit that Africa will need to rely on traditional power sources to grow its economy, including coal, and underscored that intermittent sources like wind and solar have so far contributed little to industrial development. We couldn’t agree more.

Peabody Energy launched its Advanced Energy for Life Campaign earlier this year, and they’ve made great strides in bringing attention to the issue of energy poverty. As the world’s largest coal company, Peabody understands how vital coal is to powering lives, especially those in less developed nations. This is why Peabody’s campaign aims to end energy poverty, a more serious global issue than many realize.

Nearly 3.5 billion people, half the world’s population, lack adequate access to electricity. Peabody is working to change this reality by harnessing coal’s ability to “solve energy poverty, keep energy prices low, fuel the world’s best economies and use advanced technologies to improve the environment.”

Trying to establish a basic electric infrastructure in some of the world’s poorest areas is a daunting task, yet one that will yield life-altering results across the globe. We must harness all our resources, especially affordable, reliable power from coal. Coal keeps the lights on in the U.S., and it must play an important role in bringing electrification to the developing world, helping these families and businesses turn on the lights for the very first time.

 

If you support affordable, reliable energy in the U.S. and around the globe, take action to protect our future today.


Spotlight on Regan Smith #7

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:37 am, August 11, 2014

Our hearts are still racing after watching our teammate Regan Smith race the America’s Power #7 car in Watkins Glen this past weekend! Clean Coal Car Not only does Regan make us proud on the track, but he’s also a great advocate for America’s Power outside the racetrack. In fact, what many fans may not realize about Regan is that in addition to being a NASCAR star, he’s also a homeowner and active member in his community.

Whether it’s providing power for his family, or powering the businesses he depends on in his community, Regan knows that affordable electricity plays an important role in the daily lives of Americans. Furthermore, his partnership with America’s Power has helped Regan understand that affordable energy is made possible through our nation’s most abundant, affordable and reliable fuel source: coal.

We had the chance to travel with Regan to the Prairie State Energy Campus in Illinois last October, where he had a chance to witness clean coal technology firsthand and see how Illinois’ abundant coal deposits helped create high-paying jobs for hundreds of employees and affordable electricity for thousands of households and businesses across the region.

When he’s not zooming around the track, keep an eye out for Regan Smith as he travels across the nation with America’s Power. We want to continue sharing with Regan, and having Regan share with you, what a vital role coal plays in our nation’s energy portfolio.

From providing jobs at cutting-edge power plants like Prairie State, to keeping NASCAR tracks throughout the U.S. affordably powered, coal is necessary to keep our nation racing toward a more promising energy and economic future.

Join Regan and America’s Power in standing up for affordable energy by visiting www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today.

Together – you, Regan Smith and America’s Power – can continue advocating for the fuel that most affordably and reliably powers our nation.


EPA Owes Georgia More Time, More Answers

Posted by Mike Duncan at 10:35 am, August 07, 2014

Last week, I weighed in on the EPA’s recently proposed carbon regulations for existing power plants in The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Here are some excerpts:

EPA’s proposal represents one of the largest regulatory efforts in our nation’s history, fundamentally altering the way we power our homes and business. Georgia has traditionally relied on a diverse electricity portfolio drawing roughly one-third of its power each from coal, natural gas and nuclear. This diversity helps contribute to better reliability and more stable electricity prices. EPA’s proposal, however, would force Georgia to turn away from this sound approach.

Under EPA’s proposal, Georgia would be required to reduce the carbon emissions rates of its electric plants by 44 percent – the sixth-largest emissions reduction requirement of any state. EPA assumes Georgia can accomplish this by reducing its electricity from coal by 34 percent; increasing electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources by more than 200 percent; and reducing consumers’ electricity use by more than 10 percent. These assumptions are unrealistic at best and unachievable at worst.

EPA acknowledges that its plan would increase electricity rates but the plan, released just last month, is more than 1,600 pages long so its impacts are still being studied. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), however, issued a model plan that EPA lifted heavily from to shape their own proposal.

What is already clear about EPA’s proposal is that it will hurt many states, businesses and workers. Unfortunately, there has been little time to fully analyze the proposal. As a first step, the EPA should extend their comment period, add more public hearings, and include opportunities for stakeholders to ask questions.


Recapping Our Day in Pittsburgh Supporting Affordable Energy

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 12:09 pm, August 06, 2014

Last week, I went to Pittsburgh to join my colleagues with the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, Ohio Coal Association and West Virginia Coal Association to host a rally for affordable energy the day before the EPA hearing session in Pittsburgh on July 31. Our Rally to Support American Energy gathered thousands of people across the spectrum and from all age groups whose lives, one way or another, are tied to coal-based industries or who benefit from low-cost coal-based electricity.

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The EPA session in Pittsburgh was just one of four around the country meant to garner wide-spread public comment on EPA’s proposed regulations on existing power plants.  A problem with having only four hearing sessions is that some have to travel great distances to make remarks that may not be taken to heart. We are doubly appreciative, therefore, for those who took the time to not only speak directly with EPA despite the difficulties of doing so but also for stopping by the rally to show us their support.

The America’s Power team had a great day. Our display stood at the front of Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, and we had the America’s Power #7 Nationwide car outside of the stadium for all attendees to see. We got fabulous pictures with our hard working supporters and the West Virginia Coal Festival princesses with the car! I took the opportunity to walk down the lines of attendees while they were waiting to enter the stadium to shake a few hands while I passed out stickers. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to talk to some of them and hear their stories. Several people brought their spouses and their children to the event, and thanked us for our participation in the fight for affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.

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Chris Higbee came to perform some country favorites, and we had a great group of speakers! Governor Corbett (PA), Governor Tomblin (WV) and Lt. Governor Taylor (OH) were our keynote speakers and boy, did they bring down the house! You could feel the energy as these legislators spoke from the heart and really brought the issue home. It was an added bonus that we were on the Monongahela River and had a couple supportive honks from the coal barges sailing by! Our team met so many new people, and gathered a ton of signatures for our EPA Comment Tool. Some supporters had met us at NASCAR races (we love seeing people wear our shirts!) and some were meeting us for the first time. It really is a joy to get out there and tell people how we are involved and why this fight is an extremely important one.

It was a beautiful day for us to get together in support of coal-based electricity – America’s Power!

 


Trouble for the Tri-State: How Carbon Regs will Affect OH, PA, and WV

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:09 am, July 24, 2014

Next week, EPA is holding a hearing in Pittsburgh to discuss its most recent carbon regulation for existing power plants. We decided to write a post about three of the most affected places in the country—Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia—that will no doubt be well represented at the public hearing.

OHIO

In Ohio, coal is the dominant source of energy in the state’s portfolio (69 percent of electricity generation in 2013). Ohio also boasts among the highest coal employment numbers in the country, with more than 20,000 Ohioans employed in the state’s mines. This doesn’t even begin to count the thousands more who work outside the mines but whose jobs are tied to the power generation industry. But EPA is causing jobs to disappear, making paying any bills, let alone higher electricity bills, extraordinarily difficult. The Buckeyes enjoy an average electricity price that is lower than both the national and regional average, largely thanks to low-cost coal-based power.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s economy is built upon the energy industry. Energy supports thousands of jobs in the state and helps keep electricity prices low by enabling Pennsylvania to use a diverse portfolio of fuel sources. Coal accounts for 40 percent of the state’s generating capacity.  If they just look to their neighbors to the north and west—New York and New Jersey—Pennsylvanians can see that an energy policy relying on more expensive and volatile fuel sources will bring electricity prices that are  among the highest in the entire nation.

WEST VIRGINIA

We left the discussion of West Virginia for last because it may be the state most affected by EPA’s overreaching regulations. The state economy has suffered blow after blow from federal regulatory agencies bent on eliminating coal-based power from our energy mix. Jobs have left the state and have not been replaced. One positive element, however, is West Virginia’s low-cost electricity. This spring, electricity prices in West Virginia were 7.76 cents per kilowatt hour, which is significantly lower than both the regional and national average for electricity prices. Despite this fact, more than half the families in West Virginia spend over 20 percent of their after-tax incomes on power bills. The fact that the Mountaineers generate 95 percent of their electricity from coal and pay the lowest prices is no coincidence – it’s thanks to coal that prices are so low.

Although the current outlook is frightening, high costs can be avoided if all three states show a unified front to EPA and push back on these overreaching carbon regulations. A true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that continues using low-cost fuel sources like coal can provide the economic and energy security our states need. We’re looking forward to next week as an opportunity to provide needed feedback that will hopefully shape the final rule.