Posts filed under ACCCE News

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.


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

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.


EPA Owes Georgia More Time, More Answers

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.


EPA’s Carbon Emissions Rule Missed the Mark for Americans

Yesterday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy personally announced the long-awaited proposed rule to reduce emissions from America’s existing power plants. This complex rule has a preamble alone of over 600 pages. We are working our way through the text of the regulation, but a few things became clear from the start.

If this rule is allowed to go into effect, the administration for all intents and purposes, is creating America’s next energy crisis. Coal is one of America’s most vital fuel sources, currently providing nearly 40 percent of our nation’s power. It is also far more stable in pricing and supply than other sources. If we turn away from this natural resource now, we will be ill-prepared for America’s energy needs in the coming years. This could lead to rolling brownouts and blackouts, not to mention volatile price spikes for ratepayers year-round.

The expansive, expensive regulatory agenda put forward by EPA has already become a burden for American consumers and our nation’s economy. Contrary to what EPA tells us, it will be costly to our big cities and our small towns, as all communities grapple with less base load power fueling our electricity grid. It will be costly to our low- and middle-income families for whom electricity bills make up a significant amount of their monthly budgets already. They will continue to see those rates rise. And it will be costly to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who will lose their jobs when these regulations go into effect.

Reliable, low-cost power drives America’s economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly tied to the power generation industry. The total cost of the cumulative lost jobs and unemployed American workers are a huge price to pay for negligible environmental improvements.  A recent paper released by ACCCE finds that the climate benefits of reducing carbon from America’s coal fleet are negligible. By 2050, eliminating our coal-based power plants would result in only 1% reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

As I said yesterday, President Obama and EPA have chosen political expediency over practical reality as they unveiled energy standards devoid of commonsense. I look forward to weighing in on this proposed rule over the coming months and hope we can craft a final rule that makes far more sense for American than the one that has been proposed.

 


Gearing Up for EPA’s Most Menacing Rule to Date

Monday, June 2nd is the day when EPA has said it will release its proposed regulations for existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. We fear that an overly stringent rule will be proposed that will seek to enact poor policy that fails to prioritize American consumers and businesses.

While Gina McCarthy has been touting EPA’s efforts to receive stakeholder input on the rule, she has entirely neglected the communities that will be hardest hit by EPA’s regulations for coal-based power plants. Even though she promised Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that she would visit West Virginia—a state that will be hard hit by EPA’s regulations—that has yet to happen.

It is important that EPA listens to communities not just in West Virginia but across the country. Coal provides power generation, jobs and economic development that cross all state lines. Coal-based power is our most abundant, stable form of energy, and it keeps electricity rates low. The costs of reducing our dependence on this domestic resource will be far-reaching, putting our nation’s economy and electric reliability at risk.

Several studies have demonstrated EPA regulations’ potentially profound costs, including a study by ACCCE and a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Our study, conducted with NERA Economic Consulting, revealed that a proposal by the NRDC’s to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plans  will carry a high price tag of 2.85 million lost jobs and $13 to $17 billion in added costs to consumers each year from 2018-2033. Further detailing the problems with the regulations, our newest paper finds that the climate benefits of reducing carbon from the nation’s coal fleet are trivial. For example, eliminating America’s entire coal fleet by 2050 would result in a 1% reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration, a reduction of 1/20th of a degree in warming and a reduction of 1/25th of an inch in sea level rise – that’s equal to less than a thickness of a dime.

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its study that looked at a suite of EPA regulations including the same NRDC proposal for existing power plants and also demonstrated huge costs to our economy and to consumers. The Chamber’s study found enormous costs, including 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average each year and $51 billion decrease in U.S. GDP each year through 2030.

Numbers don’t lie: EPA regulations have already cost our country jobs and economic output, and this 111(d) regulation for existing power plants will do the same. We’re gearing up for Monday’s announcement and will ensure that EPA hears our voice and our supporters’ voices in the coming weeks and months as we stand with America’s most abundant, affordable and reliable power source – coal.

 


New York Times Article Misses the Mark on EPA Regulations

Just under a month ago, The New York Times ran an article by Coral Davenport, “Keystone Pipeline May Be Big, but This Is Bigger,” that missed the biggest thing of all.

Despite six years of study, President Obama has decided to further delay the Keystone pipeline and has, instead, set his sights on carbon regulations. Now, he is hastily jamming through unworkable rules in order to fulfill his political legacy; rules that will cost consumers billions of dollars, threaten U.S. jobs, and weaken the broader economy.

Interestingly in a different article published the same week, the Times reported on the poverty still plaguing Appalachia, citing the decline of the coal industry as one of the principal reasons. Now, Ms. Davenport’s piece reports that Obama’s EPA rules could shut down 600 more coal plants and put nearly 78,000 miners out of work.

What the Times has failed to do is connect the dots. If things are bad now, how much worse will they become when these rules are enacted? And what exactly is the plan to help the people in these impoverished regions, not to mention the millions of Americans who will pay higher energy costs?

The industry has invested $118 billion in new technologies that have reduced emissions more than 90 percent and it will spend another $27 billion through 2016 to reduce emissions even more. But instead of working with the industry for the benefit of all Americans, President Obama is determined to shut out the lights on working-class families.


A common-sense approach to coal

On Friday, The Washington Times published my Opinion Editorial, “A common-sense approach to coal.” As we prepare for the EPA’s pending 111(d) greenhouse gas regulations that will place emissions limits on existing coal-fired power plants, it is critical that we analyze the potential costs to consumers and potential job losses.

ACCCE recently released a detailed economic analysis that critiques the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) carbon regulation proposal, first put forth by NRDC in December 2012 and updated in March of this year. Unfortunately, their proposal ignored a lot of costs to consumers.

You can read the study by NERA Economic Consulting here and my piece in The Washington Times here.


Win a Chance to Meet Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

How would you like to meet America’s Favorite Driver and 2014 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? We’re excited to announce our new contest where you can sign up with America’s Power and be entered to win a day with Dale Jr. and tickets to the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in Florida this November, along with other great prizes.

The grand prize is a four-day, three-night trip for two to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on November 15, 2014 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finale on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. The grand prize winner will have a private meet-and-greet with Earnhardt, Jr. Other great prizes include a race car hood signed by Earnhardt, Jr., a racing tire signed by Earnhardt, Jr., die-cast cars signed by Earnhardt, Jr., and hero cards autographed by JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith.

I’m very excited about this initiative as a continuation of our partnership with Earnhardt, Jr., Regan Smith and the JR Motorsports team. For the third year running, we have teamed up with these talented drivers and their crews. It has been a wonderful collaboration, just take Dale’s word for it:

“Our partnership with America’s Power has enabled us to get the word out about importance of coal as part of our nation’s energy mix, while affording me and Regan the opportunity to meet fans and supporters from across the country, including those who work in the coal industry directly,” Earnhardt, Jr. said. “It’s been a fantastic relationship and a natural pairing since so many NASCAR fans live in areas that depend on affordable energy from coal and I know firsthand as a business owner that low energy costs allow me to continue hiring and growing.”

Entries for the contest must be received no later than Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. For contest entry information, including rules and terms, visit www.AmericasPower.org/meet-dale.

Best of luck to all those who enter our contest – and thanks for supporting America’s Power!