On the Trail: The State of Energy in North Carolina

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 3:54 pm, October 20, 2014

America’s Power recently held our second state policy event in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosting local guests at the Mint Museum Uptown for a conversation on energy policy. Moderated by Tom Bevan from RealClearPolitics, the event featured keynote remarks by Governor Pat McCrory and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who both noted the impact the 2014 elections will have on America’s energy future. Tillis, who currently serves as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, also discussed the devastating impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations would have on electricity prices and jobs in North Carolina.

Following their remarks, our panel of experts covered a range of issues critical to the current energy debate. One message that continued to resonate throughout the discussion was the need for a sensible and balanced energy strategy. Instead of picking winners and losers through unfair and costly regulations, the administration should work with energy producers and utilities to advance standards that are both feasible and environmentally beneficial. While renewable energy sources such as wind and solar play a role in America’s energy future, we will continue to need coal to provide the constant supply of baseload power necessary to meet our growing energy demands.

Through our state policy events, we’ve brought together lawmakers, thought leaders and industry experts to explore the critical issues facing the future of energy. For full coverage of our past events in North Carolina and Arkansas, click here.


EPA’s Rule 111(d) and the Future of American Innovation: Part 2

Posted by Jade Davis at 1:09 pm, October 15, 2014

Earlier this week, I blogged about my experience at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hispanic business owners who attended the event were especially interested in how the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon standards could impact the future of technology and innovation in America, particularly when it comes to fossil fuels.

Clean coal technologies provide investment, jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. One of the most pertinent issues for minority firms is how to harness these opportunities and benefit from clean coal technologies. We all know the environmental benefits of more efficient baseload coal-fired electric generation: fewer emissions and greater efficiencies. There are, however, a number of economic benefits, like improvements in reliability of power, stable electric rates and opportunities for business to partner with the expansion of clean coal technologies.

This is not to say that renewables and other forms of baseload power do not provide similar benefits as clean coal technologies, but all fuels have a place in the American electricity generation mix and no one should be singled out as a winner or a loser.  The wholesale abandonment of a diverse mix of energy sources will dramatically change the economic realities of energy affordability and reliability in America.  The further development and dissemination of clean coal technologies, therefore, is essential for continued economic growth here at home and around the world. Regulations should reflect that reality, especially if we truly want to reduce emissions, which is a global issue, not just an American one.

America should lead the way in developing clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage. America should be the leader in getting other countries to adopt OUR technologies for carbon management, just as American business should be given a chance to grow as the nation takes the lead in carbon management strategies for electric power.

The regulatory environment must foster such innovation. Hispanic businesses and other minority businesses cannot base growth on using less abundant, less reliable and more expensive electricity. Importantly, the global community cannot endure such a course of action given that China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa will utilize more coal-fired electricity and will need American ingenuity to mitigate environmental effects.

EPA’s proposed regulations are connected to regulatory processes on every level of government—from policymakers in Washington, D.C. to state-level public service commissions to local co-ops and municipalities. It is critical that all Americans who stand to be impacted (that is: all Americans) weigh in on this important issue. We must ensure that EPA hears our concerns in the form of comments to the federal docket, as well as through conversations with local and state elected officials. We should use everything at our disposal to improve our environment, economy and opportunities. Leaving clean coal technologies behind will hamper those efforts. Get involved.

 


EPA’s Rule 111(d) and the Future of American Innovation: Part 1

Posted by Jade Davis at 12:53 pm, October 13, 2014

I recently spoke at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event was an opportunity to connect with friends, both old and new, from throughout the country. As a native Midwesterner, the picturesque mountain views made for a spectacular setting. The meeting also offered a chance to have a productive dialogue about America’s energy future, since the decision our nation ultimately makes about how we will regulate carbon dioxide emissions will have far-reaching effects on businesses from coast to coast.

On an energy and sustainability panel at the convention, I discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon standards. The carbon standards are a series of proposed regulations designed to regulate America’s existing power plants and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. EPA’s framework to achieve its reduction goal sets strict emissions limits for states that must be met beginning in the year 2020 through 2030 and beyond.

My comments at the USHCC convention focused on how Hispanic business owners would be affected if EPA’s rules are finalized as proposed and some fuels are made “winners” while others are designated as “losers.”  As you may assume, coal-fired electricity would be singled out as a “loser,” especially since EPA predicts that at least 50,000 MW of power will retire as a direct result of its proposed regulations.

What many entrepreneurs at the USHCC convention astutely pointed out, however, is that current and future innovations in fossil fuel technologies could also be lost if, and when, a third of our nation’s coal fleet is shuttered due to the proposed regulations. These are the same innovations that allow small startups to gather capital and build reputations through electric-generating plant contracts vis-à-visactivities such as maintenance, construction, logistics, materials, skilled trade, environmental services and more. These opportunities could be lost within the next few years if the rules are implemented as proposed.

Part of what makes America special is our ability to solve really tough issues. To that end, we’ve made really great strides in developing clean coal technologies to reduce emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, America is the leading innovator in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.  Sadly, however, EPA’s proposed regulations on our existing fleet of power plants could stop innovation in this critical area which means we won’t be the first nation to build carbon capture plants on a commercial scale.  And, because of that, entrepreneurs in other countries like India and China will reap the economic reward associated with advancing CCS technology. Moreover, the U.S. economy will not benefit from leading the next generation of carbon management technologies.

I had business owners ask my colleagues and I about this aspect of EPA’s proposed regulations numerous times during and after my remarks on the panel.  The truth is that carbon capture and storage, ultra-supercritical and integrated gasification combined cycle coal plants, among other technologies, are all providing significant reductions in the environmental impact of coal-fired electricity. Moreover, they are providing investment, jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs around the nation.

At the end of the day, we all want clean air and affordable, reliable electricity. The question is: “How do we maintain progress and continue down a path to near-zero emissions at coal-fired electric plants?” Many of the Hispanic business owners that were present at the USHCC convention believe that technology is the key to solving climate change issues, not LESS electricity. Technologies that are on display at the John W. Turk generating plant in Arkansas or the possibilities of carbon capture at the Kemper County facility in Mississippi are great examples of how these technologies can work if allowed time to grow and develop further. The jobs, investment, ingenuity and opportunities for growth at these facilities cannot be overlooked.  Plants like these are making our air cleaner and opening the door to America exporting its expertise to a world that is increasing its electric consumption, especially coal electricity consumption.

My next installment will examine the opportunities for minority firms to benefit from clean coal technologies. In the meantime, see how you can get involved and take action to protect the future of affordable, reliable, clean energy.


The Morning Consult: The Comment Period May Be Extended… It Still Means Nothing.

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:04 am, October 07, 2014

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have heard America’s plea for an extended comment period for its proposed carbon regulations, but the agency remains completely out of touch. An additional 45 days is still not nearly enough time for states and American consumers to fully comprehend the 700+ pages of these complex and lengthy regulations. And regardless of the comment period extension, the fact remains that not only are these regulations a threat to American jobs and the economy – they are legally flawed and will fundamentally change the way electricity is generated and distributed.

This month, the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to examine the challenges that states face in complying with the proposed carbon regulations and highlighted many issues associated with the proposal, including threats to their economies and electric reliability. The public utility commissioners who testified had very similar reactions to the proposal, all agreeing that it was a dramatic undertaking that does not acknowledge the complications that accompany the process of applying EPA’s inflexible emissions “goals” to the unique energy makeup of each state.

Beyond the multitude of costly consequences—threatening electric reliability, promoting overreliance on natural gas, increasing electricity prices for consumers and businesses, causing job losses and imposing mandates to use less electricity—the proposal’s fatal flaw is that EPA lacks the legal authority to do what it has proposed. EPA’s rule extends far beyond its limited legal authority and overrides each state’s prerogative to determine its own electricity prices. On top of that, the proposed standards are based on flawed information and assumptions that will result in devastating economic impacts for all sectors of our economy. All while having no meaningful effect on global climate change.

Our nation should certainly be working to build a diverse energy portfolio, but the approach of the Obama Administration is undermining gradual fuel diversification in the name of radical ideology. Several utilities have already predicted that we could experience another polar vortex this winter, and the only way to avoid the potential accompanying power outages is to continue using our most reliable energy source – coal. Taking coal out of America’s energy mix is an equation that doesn’t make any sense: it raises costs, eliminates jobs and offers potential electricity loss for thousands nationwide.

I’m not sure what will ultimately convince EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that these regulations need to be abandoned, no matter the length of the comment period.

 


America’s Power Energy Policy Event Series Launches in Arkansas

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 2:55 pm, October 03, 2014

Last week, America’s Power kicked off our state policy event series with an exciting discussion on the future of energy in Arkansas. Held at the Clinton Presidential Library in downtown Little Rock, the event featured political and policy thought leaders, elected officials and members of the private sector community.

Mayor Tom Stodola provided opening remarks, highlighting Little Rock’s recent energy efficiency efforts and projects. Then, moderator Carl Cannon of RealClearPolitics took the stage with Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Tom Cotton for a discussion about EPA’s carbon regulations and their potential impact on the state of Arkansas. During his remarks, Rep. Cotton emphasized the importance of coal and clean coal technology to Arkansas’ economy, noting the devastating impact EPA’s regulations would have on the state’s businesses and families.

Following Rep. Cotton’s address, a panel of experts discussed Arkansas energy policy, engaging in a lively debate on a range of issues. The event also included a question and answer period that featured a variety of viewpoints from our audience members.

I am looking forward to our next two events, which will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 13 and Denver, Colorado later in the month. We have some great panelists lined up, and I hope that many of you will be able to join us! You can also follow the events on Twitter – we will be using the hashtag #RCPOnTheTrail and tweeting from @AmericasPower. Stay tuned for more details!

 

 


President Obama “Leading” The Way On Climate Change – But Who Is Following?

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:13 pm, October 01, 2014

Looking back on last week’s United Nations (UN) climate talks and the environmental community’s self-professed “Climate Week,” it is more apparent now than ever before that President Obama is completely out of touch with the American people he was elected to serve. His administration chose to go “all in” on the showmanship surrounding the UN summit in New York at a time when Americans are profoundly concerned about the U.S. economy and our national security.

Even as President Obama addressed the world stage, the potential impacts of his damaging energy policy remain largely unaddressed here at home. President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly employ misleading rhetoric about their overreaching and costly regulations, and his entire administration continues to push a carbon plan that no other nation wants to follow.

Speaking before the UN last Tuesday, President Obama chose to emphasize the “leadership” our nation will display by stringently regulating carbon, ignoring the fact that these regulations will threaten American jobs and the economy with little to no environmental benefit. Yet instead of heeding warnings about electricity cost increases and electric grid reliability, the administration continues to prioritize its own political legacy over our nation’s energy stability.

As if the sheer futility of its plan is not enough to stop EPA from pushing forward, some of the world’s largest carbon emitters failed to even show up to the climate summit last week. Furthermore, nations like Australia and Germany have rolled back carbon taxes and other costly policies that hinder the production of affordable energy because of the adverse economic affects. These leaders share a similar view that President Obama just doesn’t get: it’s not worth sacrificing economic competitiveness for costly regulations that ultimately have little impact on the environment.

It is time for the Obama Administration to let go of its blind ambition and recognize that its “leadership” on climate change will fail to produce real results. Instead, the president should take a cue from other world leaders and promote a balanced, all-of-the above approach to energy. Because as long as President Obama pursues these aggressive and economically harmful policies, he will stand alone.

 

 


What Does Coal Mean To You?

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 4:09 pm, September 24, 2014

Continuing with our Share Your Story initiative, I wanted to highlight some recent posts from our supporters on Facebook. We love learning about what coal means to you and your family. Your voice matters, so if you have a story to tell, send us a note or a short video. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

On why coal is important:

“My dad was a coal miner all of his adult life. We were raised on coal money plus our garden. We never had a lot, but we never went hungry.”

“Coal means my lights are on. Coal means my furnace can run. Coal means I can surf the web.”

“It supports our family. I’m very proud of my husband and brother who work very hard in the coal industry. I hope and pray that they’ll have those good jobs for a long time to come.”

“Cheap power= low power bills for me…. keep burning it….”

“Coal provides electricity for my home and provides jobs for countless people.”

 

On EPA regulations:

“And in my opinion, it keeps every other business open when the coal mines go down… other companies and all mom-and-pop shops will close. This is a fact. It won’t just affect the coal miners.”

“This affects far more than coal miners – it affects all the support companies, construction equipment, railroads, power plants and all of their support industries, and all of the users of electric power which includes every company and person in the USA .”

 

And my favorite, in response to our recent story encouraging supporters to visit us at Chicagoland Speedway:

“I can’t come, I’m busy running a coal fired power plant. Please everybody, support coal. It’s the hope of an affordable tomorrow!”

 


Join America’s Power by September 30th & Meet Dale Jr.

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:58 pm, September 23, 2014

Can you believe September is already coming to a close? With the NASCAR season winding down, our contest to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Miami races this November is in its final days.

Dale Jr. is a business owner who understands the importance of affordable, reliable coal-fueled electricity to keep the lights on, meet payroll and continue growing and hiring at his company, JR Motorsports.

Check out this video of Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller on the importance of affordable electricity:

We had another tremendous year partnering with JR Motorsports, and we’re excited to give our America’s Power supporters an opportunity to meet Dale Jr. in person. Visit www.AmericasPower.org/meet-dale before September 30th to enter to win an all-expense paid trip to meet Dale Jr. in Miami!

Buzzfeed Photo 5 - Meet Dale

 

And for everything you don’t know (but should know) about Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports, check out our recent article on BuzzFeed.