Posts filed under ACCCE News

Political Theater vs Stark Reality

Two years ago, President Obama stood outside on a typical, swampy summer day in D.C. to announce the launch of his Climate Action Plan. Giving the speech outdoors, where the White House knew those in the audience and media would soon be drenched in sweat, demonstrated the dramatic showmanship the President is willing to go to peddle his climate crusade to the American people.

Unfortunately for millions of American families the president’s agenda isn’t just theater but an all-out quest to curtail the use of coal-based electricity, which currently provides nearly 40 percent of America’s power.  No one is sure where his quest will ultimately end, but we know the result if it isn’t halted – less reliable, more expensive energy.

As energy costs go up and already struggling families attempt to navigate which bills to pay to keep the lights on or whether they can afford their favorite Chinese takeout, the reality of the President’s message to them will kick in: You Choose – #LightsOrLoMein.

To underscore this stark reality we developed and delivered fortune cookies to reporters and others that predict the “mis-fortunes” associated with the President’s plan:

  • Pay electric or grocery bill? Tough choices ahead for families.
  • Take meds or . . . Keep the lights on?
  • As temps rise, so will your electricity bills.
  • Keep the lights on or go to sleep hungry?
  • Eat the cost of electricity or eat dinner?
  • Family pocketbooks will shrink as power bills rise.

For nearly half of American households who on average are living on just $1,900 a month and spending 17 percent of their income on energy these aren’t just kitschy phrases, but rather a tragic reality. Too many of them are already missing meals or skipping needed healthcare as a result of high energy bills, we can only imagine how much harder their lives will be if the President’s vision becomes reality.

We hope the president understands the impossible choices his policies will force on American families. He should do the right thing by calling a halt to his politicized agenda so that families can indulge in Lo Mein with the lights on.


Exposing the Truth: New Video Compares Consumers’ Energy Costs to White House’s

ACCCE released a new video last week comparing energy costs of Americans to those of the White House. This latest digital installment from America’s Power exposes a troubling reality: as “the people’s house” operates on over-the-top living expenses, everyday Americans are grappling with rising energy costs and declining incomes. Consequently, many of these households are left making tough choices between necessities including food, housing and medical assistance.

Recent updated analysis confirms nearly half of American households on average have an annual income of less than $23,000 after taxes. This translates to roughly $1,900 per month to cover all living expenses. Throw regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon rule in to the mix, and these struggling families will face even more trouble.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We hope our new video motivates the administration to focus less on lavish state dinners and rounds of golf, and more time pursuing energy policy that alleviates the hardships American families living paycheck to paycheck face. It’s the right thing to do.

Get involved in protecting low-cost electricity from coal by signing up for the America’s Power Army and learn more about how energy costs impact American families budgets here.


EPA’s Bad Deal for America

Last week, a new study by the federal government’s own independent Energy Information Administration (EIA) concluded what industry and analysts have been saying about EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan: electricity prices and bills will increase under the plan.  EIA finds, contrary to EPA’s assertions, the proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants will cause both electricity prices – and how much you pay each month for electricity (your total bill) – to increase, starting in 2020, and continuing through 2040.  Other studies corroborate this finding. In fact, a study by NERA Economic Consulting found that, on average, electricity prices will be higher by 10 percent or more each year in 43 states.

In addition, EIA says the plan will cost jobs.  That’s right, the federal government says EPA’s plan will cause people to lose their jobs.  EIA projects that over the years 2020 through 2029 there will be 2.9 million fewer American jobs due to the plan.

While EIA didn’t study the electric reliability threats that could result from EPA’s plan, other groups like the North American Electric Reliability Corporation which is charged with ensuring grid reliability, have expressed serious concerns that the reliability of America’s electric power system is in jeopardy if the plan is implemented.  Another similar regional group, the Southwest Power Pool, has gone so far as to state that EPA’s proposal could result in “cascading outages and voltage collapse.”

Other independent studies point out the cumulative costs and other impacts of the flawed proposal.  NERA concluded the plan would cost a total of $366 billion to $479 billion over 15 years.  Additionally, NERA says the proposal will cause consumers to spend $560 billion on measures like double-pane windows and new air conditioning systems to use less electricity.   Another study shows that 59 million American households must make do on an average take-home pay of less than $1,900 per month, and that increased energy costs – like those resulting from the plan – hurt these lower- and middle-income households.

So this plan must be good for the environment, right?   Especially if we are being asked to pay higher prices for less reliable electricity?  The sad truth is no. Even if you believe EPA’s and the U.N.’s climate models, the plan will have virtually no effect on climate change.  In fact, under the plan global average temperature will be reduced by less than 0.02 degree Fahrenheit and global sea level rise will be reduced by less than the thickness of three sheets of paper.

All in all, the EIA analysis and other studies show EPA’s proposed plan is a bad deal for America that only gets worse as more is learned.


Courts must step in and stop EPA’s brazen overreach

This column originally appeared on FoxNews.com on May 5, 2015.

It’s been said that ‘timing is everything’ and time is just one of the issues at stake in the legal proceedings surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. Specifically, the Court must decide if a proposed federal regulation, like the CPP, can be struck down before it is finalized.

In this case, that would be the right decision.

Last month, attorneys on behalf of Murray Energy Corporation and a bipartisan coalition of 15 states argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit seeking to have the Court dismiss EPA’s plan. One of the arguments made by EPA is that the Court must not dismiss the rule because it is still tentative, could change, and the EPA could still “even withdraw the proposed rule”.

When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, however, the EPA is clearly talking out of both sides of its mouth. As EPA attorneys seek to convince the courts the proposed rule could be influenced or even withdrawn based on the feedback received in the public comment period, EPA officials are blatantly singing another tune.

Just one week prior to the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an energy symposium, “[The Clean Power Plan] is going to happen. We have the legal – not just right and authority but responsibility – to do it.”

In March, McCarthy said, “EPA is going to regulate… If folks are thinking any of these pieces aren’t going to happen – and (the Clean Power Plan) isn’t going to be implemented, I think they need to look at the history of the Clean Air Act more carefully.”

These are hardly the words of an agency that is still making up its mind.

Fortunately, Judge Thomas Griffith seemed to pick up on this during oral arguments, asking the EPA if McCarthy’s remarks suggest that the agency’s comment period is a “sham.” While the EPA argued it wasn’t, the evidence certainly suggests otherwise.

When the EPA held field hearings on the rule, they neglected to hold them in coal-rich areas that would be among those most hurt by its plan. EPA’s air quality chief Janet McCabe told Congress the agency held hearings in “locations where people were comfortable coming.”

A sincere comment period should not be about comfort. It should be about hearing the impacts – both good and bad – of a proposed rule. Unfortunately, the EPA seems uninterested in doing the right thing.

It is essential the courts act now to stop EPA’s Clean Power Plan because the impacts on states are already being felt. EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a specific plan that will lead to a nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 30 percent by 2030. These plans are to be submitted to EPA by June 2016.

These plans represent an extraordinarily complex undertaking. States will need to study their electricity infrastructure, change their policies and laws, adjust their regulatory structures, all while ensuring electric reliability isn’t put at risk. Many states suggest the development of such a plan will require three years or more, yet EPA is giving them just one. Adding insult to injury, all of this work must be done irrespective of legal challenges that will likely overturn the rule.

To accommodate this accelerated schedule, states already are dedicating taxpayer dollars to prepare for the rule. Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and South Dakota are just some of the states that report using significant amounts of staff time studying the proposed rule and the substantial changes they would need to make to implement it.

Whether the E Read more >>


Newly Launched #ColdInTheDark Campaign Highlights Reliability Concerns with EPA Regulations

This week, America’s Power launched a new campaign—#ColdInTheDark—to highlight the high costs and significant electric reliability impacts that will result from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations. The initiative offers a glimpse into the reality American consumers will face under the Clean Power Plan: less affordable and less reliable electricity, especially during times of critical demand.

EPA’s regulations are forcing coal-based power plants to shut down, threatening our supply of reliable electricity and elevating the risk of power outages for years to come. Last winter’s polar vortex revealed an already-strained electric grid, and major grid operators, regulators, elected officials, energy experts and other concerned Americans from coast to coast have sounded the alarm.

#ColdInTheDark is the inaugural installment of KeepAmericasPowerOn.org, a new initiative that will include several themed campaigns throughout 2015. The site will serve as an online hub that includes news articles, expert takes, infographics, social media share graphics, and resources related to electric grid reliability.

It’s time to expose EPA’s regulations for what they are, before Americans are left #ColdInTheDark – without the low-cost, dependable power we need, when we need it the most. Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org to learn more.  


Setting the Record Straight: EPA Misleads Americans on Clean Power Plan

Last week, acting EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe rattled off EPA’s same stale talking points about the Clean Power Plan in her blog post: “Time and Flexibility: Keys to Ensuring Reliable, Affordable Electricity.” In the post, McCabe touts the “time and flexibility” EPA has afforded states to comply with its proposed plan. This is really just laughable as an array of stakeholders—from grid operators to regulators to leading energy experts—have made it clear EPA’s timeline and flexibility is unworkable.

Don’t take my word for it, however, just look at the comments submitted on this topic. Here’s one of the most succinct by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality:

“EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan does not afford the flexibility for Nebraska to comply as advocated by EPA.”

McCabe’s post also highlights EPA’s commitment to solicit and engage stakeholders on its proposal. Time and time again, however, EPA failed to solicit and/or engage critical stakeholders. In 2014, the agency held only five public hearings on the proposed regulations and bypassed coal communities across the country despite pleas for EPA to come to their region and hear firsthand how communities and businesses would be destroyed. Additionally, the agency is turning a deaf ear to mounting concerns raised by states, who fear the CPP will throw their electricity generation into a tailspin—driving up costs and weakening grid reliability. As we outlined recently, with the CPP that are being all but ignored.

The agency argues that Clean Air Act regulations have yet to cause the lights to go out. However, this claim fails to take into account that the CPP proposal is wholly unprecedented in size and scope. Experts agree the reliability impacts of the proposal will be significant and potentially devastating, especially for the most vulnerable Americans. Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s comments read like many other state leaders, firmly opposing EPA’s proposal and underscoring serious reliability concerns:

“The proposed rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed. They exceed the legal authority granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. They seek to fundamentally restructure how our electricity grid functions while making our electricity less reliable.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post also maintains that CPP will protect Americans’ access to affordable energy. An analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, which uses the government’s own data, debunks this claim. The analysis found compliance costs of the proposed guidelines could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars and result in double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states. In their comments to EPA, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox raises concerns regarding cost repercussions, a common message among the growing chorus of opposition:

“As you may know, coal is the dominant source of generating electricity in Utah… Any transition away from this historically low-cost electricity source will have economic repercussions not just for the communities of those employed in the industry but throughout the state in the form of higher electricity prices.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post reaffirms what we already knew: EPA will continue misleading on its overreaching and impractical proposal, ignoring legitimate and widespread opposition and disregarding the deeply negative consequences that will result from the plan. With EPA showing no sign of coming clean about these impacts, it is up to American consumers to arm themselves with the facts and take action to stop EPA’s costly proposal from moving forward.

 


Looking Ahead: Coal Fuels 2015

Happy New Year from America’s Power! We’re gearing up for an exciting and important year as we continue our work to protect America’s access to affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.

Over the past year, we’ve seen just how critical this fight is for our energy and economic future. As part of President Obama’s climate change plan, the Environmental Protection Agency put forth unprecedented and costly regulations that will cause electricity prices to soar and threaten American’s people and economy.

As you know, coal is, and will continue to be, our most abundant, affordable and reliable source of fuel. To protect the bottom lines of our homes, businesses and economy, it is critical that coal continues to play a central role in our energy portfolio.

In 2015, each of you can take part in pushing back against the Administration by taking an active role in our advocacy efforts. So be on the lookout for more from us throughout the year on how you can engage with us and your lawmakers at the federal and state level who are key to stopping the Administration’s costly and illegal overreach.

Thank you for your continued support. Check back on Behind the Plug for frequent updates from America’s Power and, if you haven’t already, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 


On the Trail: The State of Energy in North Carolina

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.