Hi Behind the Plug readers! I recently joined ACCCE as senior director of communications, and I look forward to contributing to the Behind the Plug Blog. Here’s a short preview of what’s in store for us this weekend:
Today, the America’s Power team is heading to Joliet, Illinois for an exciting weekend of NASCAR racing at Chicagoland Speedway. We’re looking forward to cheering on Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Clean Coal Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide series, and meeting other members of the America’s Power team from around the country.
At our booth, we’ll be talking to supporters about the importance of coal-based power to fuel electricity in our homes and businesses. Coal provides nearly 43 percent of Illinois’ electricity and accounts for close to 39,000 jobs. Affordable, reliable power is especially critical to Illinois’ economy, as the state serves as a manufacturing hub with nearly 580,000 workers – or 10 percent of the workforce – employed by the industry as of 2013. Keeping our energy costs low will allow these manufacturers to grow their businesses and hire even more workers throughout the state.
If you’re at the race, come find America’s Power in Champions Park, where Regan Smith will be meeting fans and signing autographs on Saturday September 13th at 10:00 AM CT. And if you’re not at Chicagoland Speedway but will be watching the NASCAR races this weekend, keep an eye out for Regan in the #7 Clean Coal Chevy rounding the track and (fingers crossed) racing to victory.
Last weekend, I made the drive to the southwest tip of the Virginia triangle to Bristol Motor Speedway. Dubbed the “world’s fastest half-mile,” Bristol looks pretty majestic when driving up from the country hills of Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. We hit the ground running on Friday morning at the track, which was much busier and more crowded than the last race I attended. Despite the heat, we had more than a thousand visitors stop by the America’s Power booth to learn about the proposed EPA regulations and their potential impact on our country. It was a rewarding experience to spread the word about the work we’re doing, and the ways people can join the fight. It was also wonderful meeting retired coal miners from our member companies as well as other members of the coal community and hearing their stories. One man, who described how much coal meant to him as a worker for the railroads, hugged me at the end of our conversation and said he was thankful that a group like ACCCE stood up for the little guys in the fight. Times like those reassure me that I’m in the right place, fighting for the right cause.
During our busy afternoon, our driver Regan Smith and his pit crew came by our booth for an autograph signing. We had loud cheers in the tent as everyone was ecstatic to see the #2 driver in the Nationwide standings. Regan loves meeting his fans and they love him — we really are fortunate to have the best driver in NASCAR wear our colors proudly! Regan raced the #7 Breyer’s car that night, but it was great to see some of the pit crew walking around with our America’s Power t-shirts on before they had to change into their fire suits.
The half-mile track certainly proved to be the fastest lap I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t hurt that Dale Jr. was in our pit for the entire race! That was definitely a treat. Regan ended up finishing 5th, maintaining his position as #2 in the overall standings and currently trailing his teammate Chase Elliott by 13 points. I had such a great time meeting new people (and seeing them sport our apparel!), educating other on what we do and what we stand for, as well as staying for the race. Bristol was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to do it again at Chicagoland in three weeks!
Last week, I went to Pittsburgh to join my colleagues with the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, Ohio Coal Association and West Virginia Coal Association to host a rally for affordable energy the day before the EPA hearing session in Pittsburgh on July 31. Our Rally to Support American Energy gathered thousands of people across the spectrum and from all age groups whose lives, one way or another, are tied to coal-based industries or who benefit from low-cost coal-based electricity.
The EPA session in Pittsburgh was just one of four around the country meant to garner wide-spread public comment on EPA’s proposed regulations on existing power plants. A problem with having only four hearing sessions is that some have to travel great distances to make remarks that may not be taken to heart. We are doubly appreciative, therefore, for those who took the time to not only speak directly with EPA despite the difficulties of doing so but also for stopping by the rally to show us their support.
The America’s Power team had a great day. Our display stood at the front of Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, and we had the America’s Power #7 Nationwide car outside of the stadium for all attendees to see. We got fabulous pictures with our hard working supporters and the West Virginia Coal Festival princesses with the car! I took the opportunity to walk down the lines of attendees while they were waiting to enter the stadium to shake a few hands while I passed out stickers. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to talk to some of them and hear their stories. Several people brought their spouses and their children to the event, and thanked us for our participation in the fight for affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.
Chris Higbee came to perform some country favorites, and we had a great group of speakers! Governor Corbett (PA), Governor Tomblin (WV) and Lt. Governor Taylor (OH) were our keynote speakers and boy, did they bring down the house! You could feel the energy as these legislators spoke from the heart and really brought the issue home. It was an added bonus that we were on the Monongahela River and had a couple supportive honks from the coal barges sailing by! Our team met so many new people, and gathered a ton of signatures for our EPA Comment Tool. Some supporters had met us at NASCAR races (we love seeing people wear our shirts!) and some were meeting us for the first time. It really is a joy to get out there and tell people how we are involved and why this fight is an extremely important one.
It was a beautiful day for us to get together in support of coal-based electricity – America’s Power!
Last week, I had the fun privilege of spending the day with our partner and NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. As a small business owner, Dale Jr. appreciates the importance of affordable energy. His businesses, JR Motorsports and Whisky River rely on affordable coal-based electricity to prep his cars and serve his customers. Without reliable, low-cost power from coal, which comprises more than half of North Carolina’s energy portfolio, the future of businesses like Dale Jr.’s could be jeopardized.
During our visit, Dale Jr. sat down with Dave Green, a mine rescue captain with Alpha Natural Resources to learn more about the cutting-edge safety technologies being used by companies like Alpha, which have taken impressive strides to improve safety in the coal production process. It was a great conversation and we look forward to sharing it with you in June.
Dale Jr. also conducted a number of radio interviews, including:
But aside from “talking shop,” we were able to have some fun too. On set, Dale Jr. took photos with #7 driver Regan Smith’s America’s Power car, in his own fire suit and even with Killer, his adorable bull dog:
All in all, it was a great day and we look forward to continuing a fantastic partnership with Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports – and hopefully seeing Dale win the Sprint Cup this year!
Stay tuned in the coming months for more from our day with Dale Jr.
Communities across America – from New Hampshire to Arizona, Alaska to Florida – all depend on low-cost coal for electricity. Energy is not a regional issue, nor is it a partisan issue; it is everyone’s issue. American families and businesses alike depend on affordable electricity to power their daily lives.
Throughout the years, America’s Power has had the chance to meet real Americans in real communities across the country who have shared their stories with us. Sitting down at their kitchen tables, walking through their communities and visiting their businesses, we’ve witnessed firsthand how policy made in Washington, D.C. impacts these men and women. We’ve spoken with a wide array of stakeholders, including parents, small business owners, manufacturers, corporate leaders, community leaders, and more.
These are real people telling their personal stories. They aren’t glamorous or staged; they are honest and candid. As the fight to protect affordable energy from coal against onerous regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues, it seems President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy and others in the administration have no interest in hearing the perspectives of those they represent—and those who will bear the greatest burden of their policymaking.
Since Washington won’t visit these communities, we’re sharing their important stories in our “Real People, Real Stories” video series.
Stand with these Americans by voicing your opposition to EPA policies that jeopardize affordable, dependable electricity from coal.
The ACCCE Mobile Classroom is continuing on the road this summer. After a quick stop in Illinois, we’re in Missouri this week to visit with the residents of the Show Me State. Missouri is powered by coal, receiving 82 percent of its electricity from one of America’s most abundant natural resources.
If you’re visiting the Missouri State Fair, be sure to stop by and check out our Mobile Classroom. Loaded with fun interactive materials and touch screen educational displays, you’ll be sure to learn more about the important role that coal plays in the United States. And of course there’ll be free America’s Power hats and shirts! If you can’t make it to the fair, be sure keep up with us on Facebook.
States that heavily rely on coal, like Missouri, have significantly lower electricity bills—helping both small business and families. With stable, reliable electricity from coal, Missourians can count on more consistent electricity prices to help balance their small business or family budgets. Find out more about Missouri’s energy mix from our State Energy Map.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster visited the Mobile Classroom.
Energy independence is a crucial topic this election, and it is also an extremely important issue for families and small businesses in Virginia. In general, states that rely on coal have lower electric rates. Today, nearly 42 percent of households in Virginia spend about 25 percent of their after-tax income on energy. Higher rates are something that Virginians cannot afford.
New EPA regulations are threatening this homegrown energy resource, which could potentially lead to rate increases and threatened reliability. Earlier this year, Vice President Biden said this country “desperately” needed coal—but these EPA regulations are making it more difficult to use this natural resource.
It is time for the EPA to slow down, and allow America to use its resources more efficiently—making energy more affordable for families who need it most.
Coal is the one of the most abundant energy resources in America today, and we must make sure that it remains a part of the energy conversation.
As campaigns continue across the country, be sure to tell candidates, friends and family: coal is an essential, homegrown energy resource.
Across the country, millions of hard-working Americans rely on coal-based electricity to keep the lights on. In small towns and big cities, we know that coal helps provide the energy to keep your communities running.
And soon, we’ll be visiting those communities.
ACCCE’s Mobile Classroom is back, and this time, the revamped classroom is full of new materials and information about the importance of coal across the country. The first stop for the classroom this round will be at Ohio’s State Fair.
In a state where nearly 80 percent of the electricity comes from coal, residents depend on the affordable energy from coal. Ohio families spend an estimated 13 percent of their incomes on energy, so low, stable electricity prices matter to those living in the Buckeye State.
And if you happen to go to the Ohio State Fair, be sure to swing by the Mobile Classroom and say hi. We’ve got a lot of great information to share.
Mike Duncan is the president and CEO for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the use of coal...
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Laura Sheehan Senior Vice President
Laura Sheehan is a seasoned public affairs expert with more than a 20-year track record in policy communications, media relations, crisis and issues management, community and...
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Darian Ghorbi Director
Darian Ghorbi is the Director of Policy Analysis at ACCCE. Prior to joining ACCCE, Darian spent five years working for the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Elizabeth Jennings Communications Specialist
Elizabeth Jennings is ACCCE’s Communications Specialist acting as an integral part of our communications team. She works to expand the reach of our message through traditional and new media platforms....
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The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is committed to the idea that America can have the affordable, reliable electricity we need, with the clean environment we want. ACCCE’s Behind the Plug blog is the place for up-to-date news and analysis on clean coal technology developments and energy policy progress.
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