Posts filed under Affordability

Spotlight on States: Texas

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

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

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.

What Candidates Are Saying About Obama’s Carbon Rule

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.

Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Affordable Energy and Our Schools

As a mom of three, I’m keenly aware of my family’s budget. I know when the cost of certain necessities like food and electricity go up, it can be a delicate balancing act to ensure my family isn’t hurt by these fluctuations. Too many of our families across the country, however, aren’t able to meet unexpected costs and must make difficult choices about where their hard-earned dollars are spent.

The importance of affordable energy extends beyond our homes and impacts nearly every aspect of our lives from services and institutions vital to our communities to the food in our children’s lunch boxes. With schools across the country welcoming back students this month, I’m also reminded of the critical role coal-based electricity plays in powering America’s classrooms. From computers, to science labs, to the lights in the gym, affordable energy has a direct impact on our children’s educational experiences.

With the electricity we need at an affordable rate, our cities and counties can pay teachers what they deserve, invest in facilities and focus on what’s important – instead of losing sleep over high power bills. If schools are forced to worry about their budgets because of rising energy costs, essential services too often get cut as a result. These cuts can have a profound effect on our kids’ happiness, health and success in learning.

Consider what affordable energy means for your community and learn more about how you can take action to protect low-cost electricity.

Politics of EPA’s Final Rule Don’t Mix With Kitchen Table Issues

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on August 20, 2015.

It’s always interesting to watch politicians try to reconcile positions that make soundbites but completely contradict the policies they actually support.

President Obama is one politician guilty of this practice. Elected in large part due to working- and middle-class frustration following the 2008 economic collapse, he constantly harped on narrowing the gap between the rich and poor. Yet seven years later, he seems more concerned with preserving his legacy, putting overreaching action on climate change ahead of Americans’ top priorities and further widening the very gap he promised to shrink.

Let’s take a look at this in action.

The rhetoric: In recent remarks announcing his carbon reduction plan, President Obama said the plan was necessary because “if we want to protect our economy and our security and our children’s health, we’re going to have to do more.”

The reality: President Obama’s plan will result in painful costs for those who can afford it least. It disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities and will significantly burden nearly half of America’s households that on average are bringing home less than $25,000 annually. These families already struggle with rising energy costs; 24 percent of low-income households went without food for at least one day and 37 percent went without medical or dental care in order to pay for energy.

It’s easy to think about the working poor in the abstract, it’s another thing altogether when one must come face-to-face with people and communities, like those in the Navajo Nation, who are already suffering and will only be further hurt by the president’s ill-conceived plan. The Navajo Nation community already scheduled partial shutdowns of its two coal-fired power plants, but the president’s plan is lofty and unrealistic. The final rule calls for a 38 percent reduction, compared to the 6 percent called for in the draft rule. These stringent and unreasonable regulations will almost certainly raise energy prices on the reservation and result in devastating job losses. According to a statement by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, “These jobs are extremely difficult to obtain on the nation and are almost irreplaceable. Any negative impacts on the power plants and mines will have a severe and direct effect on the tribal economy.”

That’s reality.

When EPA Can Pick and Choose, We All Lose

How many times have you watched a sporting event and been convinced the referees officiating the game made calls unfairly favoring one team over another? Just as referees are supposed to call games objectively and without bias, government should stay out of the business of picking winners and losers.

In its final carbon rule, however, the Environmental Protection Agency did just that when it imposed on 22 states more stringent emission reduction requirements than originally proposed.

Final Rule Percentage Map_FINAL_08.28.15

All of these states – except Rhode Island which has no coal-fired electricity generation – rely on coal to maintain affordable electricity prices. The collective average retail electricity price for the 21 coal-reliant “biggest loser” states was 12 percent below the national average in 2014. In contrast, Rhode Island’s electricity price was 49 percent above the national average.

EPA’s picking and choosing amounts to a big loss for consumers in all states forced to reduce CO2 emissions, but it hits the “biggest loser” states especially hard. Rising energy costs and declining family incomes are already straining the budgets of America’s lower- and middle-income families. Households with pre-tax annual incomes below $50,000, representing 48 percent of the nation’s households, already spend 17 percent of their after-tax income on energy costs. Many of these families are forced to make tough choices when their energy bill arrives each month. EPA’s carbon rule makes those decisions that much more difficult.

EPA’s pursuit of its illegal plan follows a dangerous trend of government agencies picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace. No matter where you live, this amounts to the makings of something much worse than just a bad call. When government is allowed to pick and choose, we all lose.

Growing Up With Coal: Hillary Clinton and Coal Country

President Obama’s tireless pursuit of his climate legacy is well-timed with the 2016 election cycle, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton and how she is addressing the impact Obama’s carbon regulations will have on coal communities.

During her 2008 run, Clinton proudly touted her loose ties to coal country, emphasizing America’s need for coal and the crucial role clean coal technology will play in our energy future. In the wake of the president’s final carbon plan, however, Clinton now speaks of coal in the “past tense.” Reporters say she is walking a fine line between supporting the interests of voters in coal-producing states and appeasing environmentalists and donors aligned with Obama’s plan.

As someone with strong ties to coal country, I’m not “ready” for Hillary’s pseudo-support of the region and the hard working Americans who live there.

When Clinton expressed her support of President Obama’s carbon regulations, she was no longer walking a fine line – in fact, she crossed it. By promising to defend and build upon the costly and illegal plan, Clinton will place the “everyday Americans” she purports to champion in the crosshairs, raising energy costs and destroying jobs for families in coal communities.

Clinton would do well to cease with her “past tense” rhetoric, as coal currently helps support 700,000 jobs and provides nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity. The coal industry is very much a part of America’s present and is key to meeting our growing energy needs in the future, but by supporting the president’s plan, Clinton is turning her back on all of those it employs. Like the President, it’s well past time she prioritizes the families she claims to fight for over the support of elitist environmentalist activists she seeks.