Posts filed under Affordability

America’s Real Moral Obligation: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Communities

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on July 17, 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency relies on a predictable playbook to bolster public support for its agenda. Using hyperbolic rhetoric to tug at Americans’ heartstrings, the agency routinely fails to disclose important considerations like costs and consequences. Case in point is a recent blog post by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on our “moral obligation” to support radical climate change initiatives like her agency’s proposed plan to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and efforts to limit fossil fuel development abroad. Not surprisingly, the blog post makes no mention of the negative impacts of these regulations.

While Administrator McCarthy is correct to assert America has a moral obligation to help struggling people around the globe, it is not in the way that she calls for it. Our real moral obligation is to protect vulnerable communities, including hard-working families, businesses and our economy, from EPA’s proposed plan. Overreaching environmental policies, like those her agency is pursuing as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, will lead to a decrease in affordable electricity, adding up to economic hardships for our nation’s most vulnerable communities and for billions of people around the globe.

The climate policies Administrator McCarthy claims we have a moral obligation to support will phase out electricity from fossil fuels, including coal. Considering the fact that coal-based generation alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of our electricity supply in the United States and nearly 41 percent around the world, the costs and consequences are substantial.

American households, particularly those of vulnerable groups like minorities and the elderly, face rising electricity costs and are spending a substantial portion of their incomes just to keep the power on. These households already struggling to make ends meet will see these costs piled on top of the 17 percent of their take-home pay they already spend on energy needs.

Energy poverty is arguably one of the most significant human crises we face. In fact, it is estimated that one in seven people globally lack adequate access to electricity. Far too many families go without the electricity required for basic needs like clean water, safe heating and cooking, and medical equipment. By working to limit fossil fuel use abroad, EPA will prevent developing nations from experiencing the benefits that accompany low-cost, reliable electricity including economic development, the adaption of new technologies and advanced health care.

The climate movement is grasping at straws by attempting to supplant fossil fuels with costlier, less reliable fuel sources like wind and solar. Simply put, these resources cannot replace affordable, dependable fuel sources like coal. Renewables aren’t able to provide around-the-clock power generation because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Likewise, EPA and its allies like to ignore the fossil fuel industry’s tremendous advancements in championing clean energy technologies, which are reducing emissions and ensuring these abundant resources can meet ever-growing energy demand in a cleaner and more efficient manner than ever before.

It appears Administrator McCarthy has no intention of scaling back her agency’s climate change initiatives, which are nothing more than a last-ditch legacy-building effort for President Obama. Our real moral obligation is protecting our own community and the communities that need our help most urgently from the serious threats these regulations pose domestically and internationally. To fulfill this moral obligation, we must stand united in fighting EPA’s dangerous agenda.


Sharing Your Story on Affordable Power

In America, affordable power has many different meanings. For our nation as a whole, it means continued economic growth by allowing our factories and businesses to reinvest in operations and create new job opportunities. For the American people, affordable power means more room in household budgets, allowing us to reinvest in our lives and create better opportunities for our families.

Everyone has a story about the role affordable power plays in fueling each and every day. With upcoming regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency threatening America’s access to affordable electricity, it’s time these stories were told.

By visiting www.AmericasPower.org/Share-Your-Story, you can join the movement to protect low-cost electricity by explaining what affordable power means to you. We’ve already heard from hundreds of supporters from across the country. For some, affordable energy means more food on the dinner table each night. For others, it means more money to save for a college education or a much needed family vacation.

Share Your Story

Our partners Regan Smith, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kelley Earnhardt Miller have even shared their own stories about the role affordable power from coal has played in their family history and lives as small business owners.

The fact of the matter is, money matters and Americans would rather spend it on improving their lives – not on unnecessarily high power bills. By raising your voice about the importance of low-cost electricity from coal, you can help keep your extra dollars right where you want and where they are most needed.

Join the movement and share what affordable power means to you by visiting our site. You may see your story featured on our Facebook page in the near future.


The Truth Behind EPA’s Energy Policy

When someone criticizes the Environmental Protection Agency, the normal response nowadays is a retort along the lines of, “What did Mother Nature ever do to you?” or “So, you hate puppies and all things good, then?” Yes, I may be exaggerating, but don’t miss my overall point: Americans should feel free, and indeed obligated, to analyze and criticize the actions of federal government agencies. Since our tax dollars fund these massive institutions, it should be expected that we monitor their policies and initiatives, and EPA is no exception.

For the past several years, EPA has targeted domestic energy industries, particularly those producing fossil fuels, under the guise that doing so will significantly thwart climate change and produce a stronger economy. The coal industry in particular has been pinpointed by such EPA policies, which have been cited as a factor in the closure of 62,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity (393 coal units) in 36 states as of June 18. Entire communities have been devastated by these closures, forcing state officials to cope with weakened regional economies and increased unemployment. Hard-working Americans have seen their way of life destroyed for the sake of EPA’s politically fashionable and hastily implemented agenda.

Unfortunately, these irresponsible practices continue to persist in the form of additional, burdensome regulations. What does this trend actually mean for the environment? Will more layoffs, plant shutdowns and intentional economic dilapidation add up to a greener planet? EPA’s proposed carbon regulations, the centerpiece of its climate change program, would reduce sea level rise by a mere 1/100th of an inch – the equivalent of three sheets of paper! From an economic standpoint, the effects are even less inspiring; economic analysis reveals the costs to comply with the plan could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars. Consumers will ultimately foot the bill for these rising costs, which include double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. Consider the amount of irreversible economic damage these regulations will cause compared to their practically nonexistent environmental achievement and ask yourself, “isn’t there a better way?”

America’s coal industry has undergone vast and impressive improvements to use coal more cleanly and efficiently than ever before. Emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from coal-fueled power plants have been reduced by approximately 90 percent over the period of 1970-2014. Meanwhile, the industry continues to provide jobs to over 700,000 hard-working Americans and pump revenue and ingenuity into our national economy. As America’s most expansive electricity source, coal provides reliable and affordable energy to families and businesses across the country. States benefit as well; those that generate the majority of their electricity from coal pay on average 11 percent less than the national average.

If EPA wants to make a true, lasting difference in the well-being of our national and global environment, stifling entrepreneurship and hindering families is not the right approach. Instead, incentivize existing industries to develop and utilize cleaner technologies. Encourage responsible growth so businesses can more easily contribute to scientific research and innovation. The American people, and their more manageable power bills, will thank you.


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.


Senior Citizens: Helped by Affordable Electricity, Hurt by EPA Regulations

May is National Older Americans Month, a special time to recognize our nation’s senior citizens. An essential component of honoring our seniors is helping to keep their living costs low, especially because 70 percent of older Americans survive on a fixed income. Affordable energy provided by coal plays a vital role in this process.

Low and stable electricity rates help seniors afford necessities beyond energy, like groceries and health care. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations will make living on a fixed income significantly harder for older Americans.

NERA Economic Consulting estimates EPA’s plan will cause double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states, an increase seniors’ fixed budgets have little room to absorb. Escalating costs could force seniors to forgo meals and doctor visits just to afford electricity – a devastating consequence that could seriously impact their health.

Jim Martin, chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association, recently explained seniors are already having to make tough choices thanks to rising energy costs, but EPA’s plan “will make choices like these all too common, and will push too many of our seniors…across the line from struggling to impoverished.”

To the 60 Plus Association and millions of older Americans, EPA has neglected the effects their rules will have on one of our most treasured generations. Our seniors deserve energy policies that protect their lifelong savings and allow their golden years to be worry-free, not extreme regulations that cause them undue financial burdens.  

 


The Morning Consult: EPA Rule Bad News for Low-Income Households

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on April 29, 2015.

Rising energy costs are among the new economic challenges facing millions of families across the country, according to an updated analysis commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“State Energy Costs for Families” uses data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration to assess the impacts of energy costs on American households in 31 states. The report exposes an unsettling reality: America’s poorest and most vulnerable families are devastatingly impacted by higher energy prices, such as those enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency’s policies.

EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, if implemented, will result in double digit electricity rate increases in 43 states – increases that few can afford. Minorities and seniors are especially vulnerable to these dangers, as they make up a large percentage of lower-income households.

The “State Energy Costs for Families” study also finds that real family incomes have declined since 2001. Declining family incomes magnify the effects of higher energy prices on lower-income and middle-income households, forcing families to choose between keeping the lights on and other basic necessities like food and health care.

EPA has turned a blind eye to these realities and continues demonstrating indifference toward communities that will by hardest hit by its misguided energy policy. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy showcased her apathy earlier this month when she outlandishly categorized the Clean Power Plan as an issue “not hot outside Washington, D.C.”

In fact, EPA’s plan is drawing fire outside the beltway from elected officials and regulators in 32 states, all underscoring the significant threats the proposal presents to consumers including higher electricity rates and weakened grid reliability. Governors and attorneys general in 28 states have called for the outright withdrawal of EPA’s proposal.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have also noted EPA’s disregard toward economic concerns and are rightfully unveiling the costs of its proposal. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power recently held a hearing discussing the economic consequences of EPA’s proposed rule and included witness Eugene Trisko, economist and author of the “State Energy Costs for Families” study. In his testimony, Mr. Trisko highlighted the inevitability of increased energy costs under EPA’s proposal and its disproportionate impact on our most financially vulnerable families.

The facts speak for themselves. Energy costs are going up and America’s most vulnerable households will be disproportionately impacted. By ignoring the valid cost concerns being raised by regulators, lawmakers and elected officials across the country, EPA is leading our nation down a path we simply cannot afford.

 


Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Family Energy Costs

As a mother of three, I know how challenging it can be to balance our family’s hectic schedule alongside paying the bills. When bills rise unexpectedly, it puts the brakes on a family’s budget.

This is especially true of rising bills that come from necessities like electricity. It’s worrisome when we see electricity rates rising because this expense directly hits parents’ pocketbooks. Money that would be spent on summer camp, college savings and family vacations among other activities has to be diverted just to keep the lights on at home.

We’re glad that North Carolina’s electricity rates are nearly 11 percent lower than the national average, which is largely attributable to our state’s use of coal to generate low-cost, reliable power. Our partner, America’s Power, is committed to ensuring that we all have access to affordable, reliable power no matter where we live as no one should be left in the dark or facing bills they can ill afford to pay.

Until I check back in again in May, I hope you will join me in learning more about coal-based electricity and the role it plays not just in your daily life but in your communities too.

 


Senator Boxer’s Skewed Idea of the Truth – Sky-High Electricity Rates in California Make the Case for Coal

At a Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing this past March examining state viewpoints on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made quite the dubious claim about electricity bills in California and Oklahoma, stating:

“California households pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country….It may interest our Chairman to know that the Energy Information Administration found last month that California’s monthly residential electricity bill averaged $90.19 compared to Oklahoma’s monthly bill which averaged $110.47.”

This statement, however, boldly skews the truth and requires a closer look at the facts.

Californians actually pay much higher electricity rates than Oklahomans, and far higher than the national average. Data from EIA, the same source Senator Boxer cited in her remarks, confirms California residents paid 16.29 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity in 2014, 30 percent higher than the national average. Oklahoma residents, on the other hand, paid 9.96 cents per kWh, or 20 percent lower than the national average.

What Senator Boxer also fails to mention is the amount of electricity the average California household uses versus the average Oklahoma household. In California, average electricity use per household is 557 kWh per month – the 3rd lowest in the United States. Oklahoma, by contrast, uses 1,142 kWh per month – the 9th highest in the nation.

So while Californians pay much higher rates for electricity, families pay less for their monthly bill for one overarching fact the good Senator neglected to mention – electricity is so expensive few can afford it and, therefore, use it sparingly. With rates that high, can you really blame them?

Coal-based power is affordable and reliable. As Chairman Inhofe’s (R-OK) home state of Oklahoma shows us, states that use coal as their main source of electricity tend to have lower, more consistent electricity rates. Despite the rhetoric legislators may espouse in Senate hearings, coal continues to be the best answer for affordable power no matter where you live.