My Opportunity at ACCCE

Posted by Ashari Taylor-Watson at 11:23 am, July 21, 2014

This summer I had the privilege of being an intern with The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.  This was not just an internship, but a captivating and challenging experience for the summer. While at ACCCE I found place where I could thrive, all while learning new things. Coal was resource that I knew little about, but now after working with ACCCE, I have learned the value and the importance of how coal connects people all over the world as it offers a reliable source of energy, provides job security, and generates much-needed local revenue. This summer was especially important and exciting to be in the industry due to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on coal-based power. Joining an organization that understands the importance of coal to American people and their way of life, raised my level of patriotism and respect for this great country.

As an intern with the State Affairs and Outreach team, I worked closely with a team of professionals who taught me the different aspects of advocacy at the state level. This team is full of caring, patient people who had a vested interest in helping me not only develop my skills, but also who took the time to impart valuable advice to help me continue to thrive and advance in my personal life.  Darren Bearson, Jade Davis, and Katie Gates all taught me the different positions, directions, and approaches that define State Affairs and Outreach. While working with this department, I was invited to many different events in which I was able to network and meet new people passionate about interested that I too shared. The whole department was welcoming and more than happy to help answer my many questions about ACCCE’s work, and what role the team plays in advancing ACCCE’s goal.

Jade Davis played an especially important role in my summer at ACCCE as he took the time to assign me work that was meaningful, worthwhile, and informative. One assignment in particular really stands out in my mind, and that’s an extensive presentation he asked me to construct. While working on the power point, I learned about ACCCE, coal, and the different member companies. I got an excellent overview of the operations, while contributing something to the team that Jade told me would be used long after my internship was complete. This experience is a small example of how my overall internship at ACCCE taught me the importance of seizing opportunities, networking, and connecting with others.  ACCCE introduced us to many people who were more than willing to offer advice and connect with us so that we might also have different opportunities. This internship was the beginning of many great discoveries that have been informative, challenging, and rewarding. Working with ACCCE taught me to seize every opportunity and work to achieve every goal.

 


Tom Steyer’s Wallet Has Coal to Thank

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 9:12 am, July 18, 2014

Last week, Michael Barbaro and Coral Davenport of the New York Times wrote a front-page story about billionaire activist Tom Steyer and the hedge fund that he founded almost 30 years ago, Farallon Capital Management. The piece examines the investments that Steyer’s company made under his leadership, including many that promoted the use of fossil fuels around the globe. This week, Steyer took to the pages of Politico magazine and attempted to defend his decision to divest his holdings from companies that promote fossil fuel production. He went on to describe a radical change that molded him into the Tom Steyer we know today, dedicating his life, and his pocketbook, to battle climate change.

It’s ironic that a man with so much money claims to want to help the world; yet the beliefs he evangelizes and the initiatives he supports, in fact, hurt low- and middle-income families. I’m sure the radical environmental groups and political candidates that receive funding from Mr. Steyer wouldn’t be too pleased to learn that profits from coal helped write those checks. But that isn’t the point.

The recent coverage of Mr. Steyer illustrates two fundamental problems among those who set environmental policy in this country: elitism and a complete disregard for the economic and social consequences of their actions. Mr. Steyer profited for decades off of an entire industry. While Mr. Steyer certainly got rich, coal and other fossil fuel industries support millions of direct and indirect jobs, helping to keep energy costs low for American families and businesses. The industry that is partially responsible for helping Steyer achieve this status of wealth is the same one where hard-working Americans are receiving pink slips because their mines or plants cannot operate any longer due to EPA regulations; regulations that were supported in large part due to Mr. Steyer’s own activism. Does this seem right to you? Not to me.

The elitism Mr. Steyer and others in the environmental community display is downright insulting to his fellow Americans who work hard to keep food on their tables, to meet payroll, to pay their utility bills each month. I’d venture to say that Mr. Steyer, a mainstay of the San Francisco and Democratic social scenes, hardly considers such consequences when he’s writing his check to organizations that are equally out of touch with these concerns. But seeing as how he is currently tens of millions of dollars short in his current bout of fundraising for the Democratic Party, he might be looking for his next venture sooner than we think.


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.


Advocating for America’s Power: Final Weeks at ACCCE

Posted by China Riddle at 10:53 am, July 16, 2014

Greetings, energy enthusiasts! Yet again, I bring news from the international front. England’s conservative minister of climate change, Greg Barker, is stepping down from his position. The Financial Times reported the story, saying the departure is viewed as a “vivid symbol of the Conservative party’s changing priorities” because the former conservative push for green energy is weakening. Prime Minister David Cameron was initially in support of Mr. Barker’s ambition to make England the “Saudi Arabia of green energy.” Last year, however, Cameron was quoted saying he wanted to “cut” their “green” policies, which caused energy bills to skyrocket. In addition to Cameron’s lost climate sentiment, England’s chancellor, George Osborne, refused to “save the planet by putting [the] country out of business.” With this shift in ideology, and their leader in climate change abandoning his cause, England appears to be reassessing its attempt to replace fossil fuels with less abundant, more expensive sources of energy.

This type of reluctance to embrace strict energy policies – and in Germany’s case regret for implementing those policies – has been a common theme in my research this summer. In each case, although the situations differ, the essential issue is the same –people and businesses bear the brunt of the consequences of overly aggressive rulemakings. My mind goes to China where abundant, affordable coal is powering their economic growth. I think of the families in Germany who struggled to pay their daunting power bill during their government’s quest to be the shining example of energy transformation. There was even a new report released that demonstrates the financial struggle of rising energy bills.

As my mind jumps around the globe, however, there is one family that is always top of mind – my own in Kentucky. I think of my father and his partner John, proud owners of K&R Rebuild, depending on coal to provide for their families and power their business. They need coal just like families in South Dakota, electric cooperatives in Arkansas, small businesses in Indiana, and the millions of other working Americans who depend on affordable energy to power their everyday lives.

Next week is my final week at ACCCE, and as I reflect on my time here, I have ultimately learned how the concerns I expressed in my first blog post are shared across the globe. While the Obama Administration distracts America with misleading rhetoric, and EPA touts the feigned flexibility of its new plan, voices like mine need to unite and call for a true “all of the above” energy policy. Rather than demonize a particular fuel source, the government should embrace all forms of energy – coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables. We need all of these sources to power our growing energy needs. With coal providing nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity, it is clearly an essential portion of our energy portfolio. All fifty states should be permitted to complement each other’s energy strengths so that we can reach environmental goals without sacrificing jobs, our overall competitiveness and the hard-earned income of working Americans.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s lust for climate legacy keeps him from embracing reasonable and achievable energy policy. My hope for our future is that the dismal outcomes which will result from EPA’s proposed carbon regulations will be fully examined and prevented. Until then, I will be advocating for America’s Power, even after my time with ACCCE ends. So for now energy enthusiasts, I bid you adieu. I encourage you to continue to raise your voice about these ludicrous policies, so America can be reliably and affordably powered for years to come.


Share Your Story – And Win a Chance to Meet Dale Jr.

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 1:46 pm, July 15, 2014

Here’s another edition of Share Your Story! You all have shared such great comments and stories on our Facebook page, that we opened up our Share Your Story initiative on our website to include comments as well as video! We would love if you could share with us what coal means to you, your family or your community by writing a few words or filming a short video. We will be posting our favorites to our website for others to see how important coal is to our country and to our energy future. Visit http://americaspower.org/share-your-story to share YOUR story, and you will automatically be entered in our contest to meet Dale Earnhardt, Jr. this fall in Miami.

Check out what others have been sharing with us below!

 

“What the EPA is doing is making it impossible to run a business or if they can run a business it is so expensive people cannot afford to purchase the product. Also without coal and oil a lot of the products you rely on will no longer exist and if it does only an elite few will be able to afford it. For instance electricity- How are you going to drive to work? Do some research and see just what you will be missing because of a few zealots think coal and oil is bad. You might change your mind.”

“I wonder if EPA Execs uses candles to light their huge homes??”

“Coal, living here in southern WV, is the source of life. It creates our energy that powers our homes, businesses, and lights our streets. It is where the money comes from that buys food and everything we need to survive. That money goes to local business that provide income to their workers. We need coal to survive. Please stop taking away our livelihood.”

“Coal kept our house warm, water hot, oven baking…. and provided ashes to carry out. I remember being so excited when I found it also kept the lights on!”

“Coal is the central source of my livelihood. I run a coal fired generator. It is one of the cleanest in the world today! It provides the electricity you need to cool your home in the summer heat! Did you know that coal makes something that gas, solar and wind can’t come close to? It’s called mega vars or millions of VARS. MVARS is what it takes to push the electricity through transmission lines to supply the grid many miles away! In fact that power might be a hundred miles or more from the big city it supplies. So this summer, stay cool under the A/C knowing that I’m going to crank out the electricity……But I can’t do it without coal.”

“Coal has been our family’s livelihood for nearly 25 years. It put food on our table, shoes on our children’s feet and a roof over our head. Thankful for our local coal powered plant and the jobs it provides.”

“Coal is the life blood of my community, county and the state of West Virginia.”

 

These stories are great, and really remind us of what is at stake. Please share your story, and also visit our comment tool to tell the EPA to keep  our electricity affordable and reliable! Visit http://keepamericaspoweron.org/ today.


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 5

Posted by China Riddle at 9:26 am, July 10, 2014

Happy July, energy enthusiasts! I am still diligently digging into EPA’s carbon regulations and the global coal community. In my last two posts, I explored international reactions to Obama’s costly climate plan. Recently I learned that another nation can help us in our scrutiny – Germany. Like the U.S., Germany is one of the world’s wealthiest and most developed nations, with a particularly strong industrial sector. Germany is also a great example of why President Obama should take a step back and re-evaluate his Climate Action Plan which isn’t revolutionary, and is destined to cause us significant economic harm with no meaningful benefits.

In 1997, Germany went down the path that Obama is singularly determined to take and as result they are currently trying to recover from the economic damage wrought as a result.

Let’s take a look back and see what led Germany down this dangerous path.

In 1997 several countries met in Kyoto, Japan to discuss climate change and actions to address the issue. After this meeting, Germany was determined to go down in climate history by embracing climate action and implementing “Energiewende,” which translates to “energy transformation.” The lust for a climate legacy sounds all too familiar, as does the approach which was based on the following tenants:

  1. A dramatic shift from coal to renewable energy (primarily solar and wind)
  2. A complicated system of subsidies for renewable energy technology
  3. An additional fee, or surcharge, on all electric bills to fund the subsidies for renewables

If this doesn’t ring a bell, it should. This bureaucratic approach to energy policy is eerily similar to Obama’s plan. Not only does the Obama administration not acknowledge this, but it also fails to take into consideration the results of Germany’s failed quest.

Upon Energiewende’s implementation, power prices shot up to the highest in the European Union. In an effort to loosen the chokehold that power prices had on their income, German citizens asked the government to subsidize renewable energy technology for their homes. In order for the government to provide these subsidies, however, the already extra surcharge on power bills had to be increased. The increased surcharge then led businesses to plea for surcharge discounts to continue to power the industrial sector, the foundation of Germany’s economy. To compound the distress, the country faced these issues in the dark as power shortages were not uncommon. After all of this unnecessary and costly trouble, carbon emissions still increased. This vicious cycle ultimately caused Germans to cry for end to the pursuit of a climate legacy and instead to build back up reliable, affordable power sources.

In January 2014, Germany’s power prices decreased for a fourth consecutive year, primarily because they are using the highest amount of coal-fired power in more than a decade. To keep prices trending in the right directions, officials are making plans for the construction of eight new coal-fired power plants. Germany now realizes how critical coal is as an abundant, affordable, and reliable fuel source. Sadly, we cannot say the same for our misguided leaders.

Germany’s failed climate crusade serves as proof that aggressive climate policies, like those being pushed by our President, will not work. I am saddened that President Obama’s need for a climate legacy is taking priority over the well-being of this nation. While Americans will have to struggle to light their homes and put food on their tables, we can only hope our president will acknowledge the failed actions of others like Germany and keep America from following the same destructive path.


My first NASCAR experience

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 1:52 pm, July 01, 2014

How does one describe their first NASCAR experience?  I’m not quite sure, but I’m about to take it for a test drive! Before last weekend, I had never been to a race and was given the opportunity to work our America’s Power display at Kentucky Speedway for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. I had no expectations and was eager to see what was in store for me.

Our display was awesome, housing a replica of our #7 car, driven by Regan Smith and fully interactive so those who stopped by could see firsthand all the great things we are up to. Throughout the day, we revved the engine for spectators and educated our visitors on clean coal technologies and the importance of keeping coal in our energy portfolio. It was heartwarming to have coal miners stop by the booth and thank us for helping to protect their jobs and their communities by standing up to the EPA and their overzealous regulations. Truly, these interactions made it all the more worthwhile to be standing on our feet all day getting the word out.

photo for blog3

I have to tell you, however, it wasn’t all work no play and I was thrilled to take part in some behind the scenes activities that really opened my eyes as to what really goes into a race. I got to go into the garage and see our hauler for the #7 car, which is run by the JR Motorsports racing team. That’s where I met Regan! After the garage and hauler tour, we attended the driver’s meeting which was led by the head of Kentucky Speedway. That was probably the coolest thing, to see all these drivers—Chase Elliott, Dakoda Armstrong, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch— just being friendly with each other before the race. Since I played soccer growing up, I tried to compare this camaraderie to my experience and it was a lot easier once I saw them together. Teammates and rivals, these guys were here for one reason: to race, and to ultimately bring home a victory for their team.

photo for blog2

photo for blog1

While Regan didn’t win, we are happy that his JR Motorsports teammate, Kevin Harvick, won the race. I’m extremely grateful for the experience I had this weekend representing America’s Power and talking with the people who we are fighting for. It’s a weekend I won’t ever forget and can’t wait to do it again in Bristol! Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

If you want to see more photos from our weekend and learn more about America’s Power, visit our Facebook page today.


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 3

Posted by China Riddle at 10:40 am, June 26, 2014

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.