Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Energy Awareness Month

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 12:16 pm, October 05, 2015

NASCAR fans know racing takes a lot of energy. I’m always amazed to see how much goes into preparing for a race. The JR Motorsports crew is constantly working—from powering the tools in the pit to tuning up the cars. Countless activities that keep our operation running require reliable, low-cost electricity.

October is Energy Awareness Month, and joining forces with America’s Power gave me greater awareness of exactly how energy works in America. One of the most important takeaways has been learning about how electricity is generated and consumed in the U.S., which is home to abundant and low-cost fuel sources like coal.

By harnessing these resources, and investing in new technologies to produce electricity in a cleaner manner, we’re fortunate to have a predictable and low-cost power supply. Considering that most Americans can be confident the lights will turn on and the heat will flow when we flip a switch, it’s easy to take this comfort for granted. In other parts of the world, on-demand electricity is a luxury that many do not have.

This October, encourage your family and community to learn more about how power is generated in your state. Take action to protect the abundant, low-cost and reliable energy we enjoy today so we can power our progress well into the future.

Senators Make Their Stance Clear on EPA’s Overreaching, Costly Carbon Plan

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:42 am, October 01, 2015

Republican Senators didn’t mince words when debating the legality, impact and insignificant environment benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon rule during Tuesday’s Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “Economy –wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda” hearing.

EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma pressed the acting administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Quality Janet McCabe to justify why the agency and the Obama Administration are imposing such a costly rule on Americans when negligible environmental benefits are expected.

“These regulatory actions are based on dubious science and are the culmination of improper collusion with extremist environmental groups and their sue-and-settle tactics,” Chairman Inhofe said in his opening statement.

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan cut to the chase and called out EPA’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law during the hearing.

“Does it disturb you that 32 states are opposing the Clean Power Plan and 16 have already have requested a regulatory stay?” the senator asked of EPA’s Janet McCabe. “When states sue you that’s a pretty good indication they don’t like the rule,” he said.

Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia – both from states that will be severely impacted by the plan – warned this federal overreach will have serious consequences on our country’s taxpayers.

Energy costs in Capito’s state alone are predicted to increase between 17 and 22 percent.

“This is going to have a cost to them, a human cost,” Senator Capito said.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso drove home the fact that EPA’s myopic plan has very few environmental benefits.  “You can only reduce the dust once and accrue the health benefits once. Not over and over to justify different rules,” he said.

Tuesday’s hearing was a step forward in holding the Obama Administration accountable for their legally flawed attempt to usurp control of energy distribution and raise electricity prices nationwide. We thank these right-minded Senators and look forward to future congressional and judicial action that will invalidate this overreaching, expensive plan.

Preparing for Battle, Defending States’ Rights

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:49 pm, September 30, 2015

The Obama Administration cast a dark shadow over the states when the Environmental Protection Agency issued its carbon plan in August.  It’s a regulation so flagrant in its encroachment on states’ rights that it’s uniting attorneys general across the nation – and across party lines – in opposition.

These AGs – more than 20 are expected to be part of the action – understand the carbon regulation will result in soaring electricity prices that will decimate the pocket books of middle- and low-income families who already spend up to 17 percent of their modest budgets on energy. Thankfully, they are prepared to defend their states’ rights and keep electricity prices affordable by using the power and resources at their disposal.

Don’t take my word for it, however, check out what these right-minded AGs have to say on the matter.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is steering the coalition fighting the carbon rule, said, “This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out. With this rule, the EPA is attempting to transform itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning agency for states’ energy economies.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller also decried the legality of the regulation, saying it is “an overreach of historic proportions and this regulation of electrical power generation goes far beyond what Congress authorized the agency to do.”

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway argues the regulation will devastate the livelihood of his state’s residents. “It is apparent the Obama administration is doubling down on policies that hurt Kentucky,” he said. “I have challenged the President in the past and won — that is just what I plan to do in this case. This is about the future of our commonwealth and ensuring that our state doesn’t bear the brunt of an ill-conceived Washington, D.C., regulation that hurts Kentucky coal and Kentucky jobs.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange pointed out the problems it would cause for his state when he said, “Under the EPA rule, Alabamians’ average annual household energy bills could rise by more than $800 a year by the time the plan is fully implemented. This places an undue burden on those who can least afford it, including the poor, the elderly and others on fixed incomes.”

These AGs and many others are determined to save their states – and their states’ residents – from Obama’s executive overreach. We are hopeful even more will take up this cause and fight alongside them against this legally flawed, costly carbon plan.

Spotlight on States: Texas

Posted by China Riddle at 1:07 pm, September 29, 2015

As America’s second-largest state with a population of nearly 27 million, Texas certainly has the right to describe itself as big. The state’s electricity demand can also be described as such, because it takes a lot of power to meet Texas’ growing energy needs. To keep lights on across the Lone Star State, Texas relies on affordable, reliable energy from coal to generate 34 percent of its electricity.

Harnessing the power of coal is especially beneficial for Texas’ ratepayers, as it helps keep the state’s electricity prices more than 8 percent below the national average. This is hugely helpful to the 4,000,000 low-income families who call the state home and are living on only $2,000 each month. Texans also have ample opportunities to find quality employment in the coal industry, as it provides 41,560 direct and indirect jobs.

Sadly, another thing that can be described as big is the threat the Environmental Protection Agency’s finalized carbon regulations pose to Texas. If left unchallenged, these rules will force the state to shutter its coal power plants in favor of more costly and less reliable energy sources. Consequently, electricity rates for families and businesses will shoot up, while the loss of coal-related jobs will cause employment prospects to take a nose dive.

State leaders recognize the negative implications of EPA’s rule and are putting up a Texas-sized fight to stop the agency’s vast power grab. Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to sue EPA should the agency continue on its unlawful path.

Less than three weeks ago, Dr. Bryan Shaw, a former EPA staffer and now chair of Texas’ Department of Environmental Quality, offered his expert opinion on EPA’s rule to Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment. According to Shaw, “the resulting effect of increased cost of power and power shortages, such as rolling blackouts, would…jeopardize the personal and economic health of Texas citizens.”

Whether a state is the size of Texas, or the size of Iowa, deciding how to best meet electricity demand is a big decision that should be made by those who know their state best. Allowing EPA to make these decisions only serves to jeopardize our nation’s energy and economic security. Its crucial states like Texas continue to stand up to EPA’s harmful regulations and fight for America’s right to continue benefiting from affordable, readily available coal-based electricity.

Spotlight on States: Nevada

Posted by Julia Treanor at 2:11 pm, September 25, 2015

As part of his recent climate change tour, President Obama traveled to Las Vegas last month for Senator Harry Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit. The president touted his administration’s recent environmental regulations during his remarks, declaring his carbon plan will have a positive effect on states like Nevada. We decided to take a closer look at the reality of Nevada’s energy needs and economy in comparison to President Obama’s claims.

  • Energy Choices: The president claims his plan will give consumers the “freedom” to choose “more efficient” forms of energy. To meet the emissions reduction target outlined in the plan, however, Nevada will be forced to use more expensive (and less efficient) intermittent sources of energy favored by the Environmental Protection Agency. In reality, the state, and consequently its consumers, actually have very little freedom at all under the rule.

    Congressman Cresent Hardy
    put it well when he stated that “Nevada and other states should continue to lead the way to safely and responsibly develop options tailored to [their] unique resources.” Like other states, Nevada’s energy portfolio is designed to meet its own energy needs and achieved this balance on its own – not as a result of heavy-handed mandates from Washington, D.C.

As the administration continues its push to sell its costly carbon plan, it will be especially critical to dive deeper into the real impact the regulation will have on the states. The decisions state officials make about the plan will have a lasting effect on the well-being of the families and businesses that call these places home.

Raise Your Voice and Help Protect Affordable Energy

Posted by China Riddle at 9:30 am, September 22, 2015

For more than a year, the America’s Power Share Your Story initiative has allowed us to hear what affordable coal-based electricity means to hundreds of Americans. From a family of four in Missouri, to a small business owner in Ohio, to a single mother in Florida, people across the country have told us about the positive impact low-cost electricity has on their lives, families and communities.

A recent submission from Coleman of West Virginia really hit home with me and seemed to perfectly capture why affordable energy plays such a critical role in our daily lives:

“I look around this room. Is there anything I see that has not been created, sustained, or delivered without the benefit of cheap available energy?”

Coleman’s story prompted me to take a look at look at my surroundings. The food I’m eating, the clothes I’m wearing, the chair beneath me, the lights above my head – nearly everything around me is made possible through affordable power and the related positive effects it has on our society.

As you go through your daily routine today, I challenge you to look around and think “would this be possible without affordable energy?” In nearly every instance of modern life, the answer is no. Low-cost electricity from coal not only helps keep the modern conveniences we enjoy affordable – it is one of the very reasons our nation has become the advanced economic leader we are today.

Take a moment to think about what affordable power means to you and consider sharing your thoughts with us. We want to hear your story, because it’s the voices of people like you who can help make sure affordable electricity from coal continues to be one of the greatest advantages of American life.

A second try at cap-and-trade

Posted by Mike Duncan at 1:59 pm, September 17, 2015

This op-ed originally appeared in The Washington Times on September 7, 2015. 

Democrats embracing President Obama’s carbon-regulating Clean Power Plan may want to be cautious and consider recent history. The president’s final regulations resurrect a “cap-and-trade” program so unpopular it cost many supportive Democrats their seats in Congress just five years ago.

Cap-and-trade programs are broadly unpopular because they create an artificial marketplace where electricity generators have to buy credits to emit carbon dioxide. These costs then get passed along to households and businesses in the form of higher electricity bills.

As a candidate in 2008, President Obama conceded this point telling The San Francisco Chronicle, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Not surprisingly, when the president tried to move this plan through Congress it faced strong opposition.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought the cap-and-trade plan to the House floor the next year, where it narrowly passed by a 219-212 margin, with 44 Democrats opposing the bill. It was a vote that made vulnerable Democrats even more vulnerable, and it was ultimately for naught.

Despite having a robust Democratic majority in 2009 and 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declined to bring the cap-and-trade bill to the Senate floor. His Democratic colleagues were undoubtedly aware of the policy’s unpopularity as a 2009 Pew Research poll found Americans who were familiar with the legislation opposed it by a 2 to 1 margin.

A year later, Democrats faced the wrath of an electorate not eager to see higher energy prices. The party lost its House majority and more than two-dozen representatives who voted for the cap-and-trade package were swept out of office.

One of the most notable was Rep. Rick Boucher, a well-respected 14-term Virginia lawmaker who was instrumental in helping the bill pass the House. When asked, a former Boucher chief of staff said, “I don’t think there’s any question about it, cap and trade was the issue in the campaign. If Rick had voted no, he wouldn’t have had a serious contest.”

Unfortunately, this electoral rebuke did not slow the president’s desire to inflict this unpopular program on the American people.

The president’s Clean Power Plan, which he is attempting to implement as a regulation rather than through the legislative process, will set unique carbon limits for every state. States projected to be over their limit will then face the choice of switching to different fuel sources that would be costlier or buying surplus emissions “credits” from states that are under their carbon limit. That last option, which many states will be forced to take, is essentially a cap-and-trade program.

This cap-and-trade regulation pits states against one another, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) picking winners and losers. In this case, the losing states are made up almost exclusively of states that rely on coal to generate electricity. Under the final regulation, the EPA gave 22 states more stringent emission reduction requirements than were initially included in the proposed plan. Of these 22 states, 21 rely on coal to help keep electricity prices affordable. The collective average retail electricity price for these 21 coal-dependent states was 12 percent below the national average last year.

Higher energy costs aren’t going to be any more popular in 2016 than they were in 2010, especially because these costs disproportionately hurt lower- and middle-income families. When energy prices increase, these households are forced to make some terrible decisions. According to a survey of low-income households, 24 percent reported that they had gone without food for at least one day as a response to high energy bills. Thirty-seven percent said they went without medical or dental care, and 19 percent said that someone had gotten sick in their household because their home was too cold. Now the president wants them to pay even more.

From a broader economic standpoint, the EPA’s regulations will inflict pain over the entire country. The true cost of the plan won’t be known for some time, but the proposed regulation was projected to cost more than $40 billion per year, raise electricity prices in 43 states, and have practically zero impact on global climate change. It’s no wonder that legislatures, governors and attorneys general representing 32 states expressed opposition to the EPA’s proposed regulation. Unfortunately, those concerns seem to have been largely ignored.

The president once famously quipped that “elections have consequences,” but now he is undermining the electoral process by ramming through a program that couldn’t even get through a Democratic-controlled Congress. No president should be able to unilaterally raise energy prices on states. As a lame-duck president, he doesn’t have to worry about facing voters again. Other Democratic lawmakers and candidates do, however, and they support this plan at their own peril.

What Candidates Are Saying About Obama’s Carbon Rule

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 12:52 pm, September 16, 2015

The 2016 presidential race is heating up, and so are candidates’ positions on the administration’s illegal carbon plan that will mandate emission reductions from new and existing power plants in 49 states.

Where does your candidate stand? A rundown of candidates for and against the rule, as well those who have yet to make a public statement, are listed below.

Anti-carbon rule

  • Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor said, “President Obama’s Carbon Rule is irresponsible and overreaching. The rule runs over state governments, will throw countless people out of work, and increases everyone’s energy prices.”
  • Marco Rubio: The Florida senator reminded us Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the regulation and declared, “As president, I will immediately stop this massive regulation. I’ll pursue a sweeping overhaul of the regulatory system to make sure costs and benefits of new rules are accurately accounted for and that localities, states and industries can meet the timelines I set forward.”
  • Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator warned, “But in my state, this is going to be higher electric bills and it’s going to be more unemployment. So we’re steadfast against it, and I will do everything I can to repeal this rule.”
  • Chris Christie: The governor of New Jersey made a scathing statement about the plan and declared it “is yet another example of the Obama administration inappropriately reaching far beyond its legal authority to implement more onerous and burdensome regulations on businesses and state governments alike.”
  • Carly Fiorina: The former chief executive of Hewlett Packard and GOP hopeful told RealClearPolitics she would repeal the entire package of Environmental Protection Agency carbon emissions rules once in the White House. “They’re terrible. Every single one of them should be repealed,” she said.
  • Mike Huckabee: The former governor of Arkansas is adamant about his opposition and said it would “bankrupt families” and described the plan as part of a “carbon crusade.”
  • Ted Cruz: The Texas senator argued President Obama’s rule is a “lawless and radical attempt to destabilize the Nation’s energy system, is flatly unconstitutional and – unless it is invalidated by Congress, struck down by the courts, or rescinded by the next Administration – will cause Americans’ electricity costs to skyrocket at a time when we can least afford it.”
  • George Pataki: The former governor of New York opposed the president’s plan when he said, “This is a classic top-down, government-imposed solution. It will result in higher costs of energy, an increase in the vulnerability of the electrical supply, and I think it’s just completely wrong.”
  • Rick Santorum: If elected to the White House, the former Pennsylvania senator said he will swiftly reverse Obama’s final rule. At a 2016 presidential forum sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Santorum stated, “The regulations that we’re seeing coming out of this administration have nothing to do with science. It’s like a quasi-religious crusade for them. They want to eliminate fossil fuels. They don’t care about the impact.”

Pro-carbon rule

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has made it known she’s an avid supporter of Obama’s plan and recently said, “It’s a good plan, and as President, I’d defend it.” Clinton also vowed to “build on” the plan, which is eerily similar to the 2009 cap and trade legislation she and President Obama both championed.

The former governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee publicly thanked the president and EPA for announcing the rule while Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley took to the Twittersphere to express support.

Mum’s the word

Candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jim Gilmore, Jim Webb, and Lindsey Graham have yet to oppose or support the rule. In December of 2014, Graham signed a letter to Gina McCarthy asking for the rule’s withdrawal, but has not made a public statement on the rule since its release in August.

As the countdown begins for tonight’s second Republican primary debate, it’s time to demand all presidential candidates show their true colors when it comes to Obama’s carbon plan.

Affordable energy prices, economic progress and our nation’s energy infrastructure are all at stake thanks to Obama’s aggressive plan. Make sure when you’re tuning in to tonight’s debate, you ask yourself not only who you want to see run our country, but who has the interest of hardworking, energy-using Americans in mind.

Make sure candidates answer your carbon plan questions during the CNN debate tonight. Submit your question by tweeting or visiting CNN’s website.