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President Obama’s Questionable Climate Deal and Its Impact on the American Economy

Last week, President Obama announced a non-binding agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions, taking yet another action that puts America’s energy and economic future at risk. The so-called “deal” requires deep cuts in America’s carbon emissions by 2025, yet allows China to operate unfettered until 2030, at which time carbon emissions would supposedly level off.

Abundant, reliable, low-cost electricity is the driving force behind a healthy and growing economy. America has experienced this throughout its history, as affordable electricity, largely provided by coal-based generation, fueled widespread economic development. From Silicon Valley’s data centers in the West to the recent manufacturing resurgence in America’s Heartland, low-cost coal power has been a mainstay of support for growing jobs and the economy here at home. Coal currently provides 40 percent of our nation’s electricity and misguided attempts to limit its use only stands to harm millions of consumers and businesses.

On the other hand, China’s economy continues to grow, as the country increasingly looks to coal to provide the affordable power needed to fuel jobs and economic development. With coal powering its future, think of the country’s enormous growth potential between now and 2030 – and then consider the enormous setback America’s economy will face as a result of President Obama’s overzealous activism.

What happens if China violates the agreement with the United States? Well, nothing really. It’s a non-binding agreement after all. But long before 2030 (when we see whether China stayed committed), the United States economy will already have suffered as President Obama and his EPA move full steam ahead with costly regulations that will upend our commercial model for years to come.

Sadly, the president’s climate “deal” with China is yet another example of the administration putting its climate crusade ahead of the American families and businesses that depend on reliable, low-cost electricity. President Obama is leading Americans down a treacherous path, while allowing China to grow and develop for the next decade and beyond. Americans are truly on the losing end of this climate arrangement.

Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org by December 1 to send a comment to the EPA opposing costly carbon regulations.


Industry Spotlight: Leading the Way in Veteran Employment

This Veterans Day, we were reminded of the incredible sacrifices the men and women in our armed forces have made to keep America safe. After serving their country, many service members seek to transition into the workforce and find fulfilling, quality employment.

The coal, electricity and transportation industries have a long history of hiring veterans. From mining in West Virginia, to hauling coal on America’s railways in the Powder River Basin, to constructing a cutting-edge power facility in Mississippi, these industries have committed to welcoming veterans into their companies and working to leverage the invaluable skills they bring to the table to power America’s energy and economy.

On the heels of Veterans Day, we’re highlighting two of our member companies who lead employers across every industry in military employment: CSX and Southern Company. While each of our members has a history of strong veterans hiring, we’re highlighting two that have recently received well-deserved accolades for their efforts.

CSX

Nearly one-in-five employees of CSX is a veteran, a statistic that is far more than a number for the company. In the words of CEO Michael Ward, CSX is “proud to create an environment that attracts, develops and retains the best and brightest talent – including those with the invaluable experience of serving our country.”

These hard-working men and women apply the leadership and technical skills they learned while in the armed forces to a career with one of the nation’s leading railroad companies. CSX was recently named to DiversityInc’s “Top 10 Companies for Veterans” list for the second consecutive year, as well as G.I. Jobs’ “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers” list.

Southern Company

Just this week, Southern Company was named the highest-ranked utility on the “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers” listing by G.I. Jobs. For eight years running, Southern Company has been named to this list because of its commitment to hiring veterans and supporting organizations like Troops to Energy Jobs.

Ten percent of Southern Company’s workforce is comprised of skilled veterans. What’s more, 20 percent of the new hires at the Kemper County Energy Facility, one of the world’s cleanest and most innovative coal-fueled power plants, have prior military experience. On veteran hiring, president and CEO of Southern Company Services Mark S. Lantrip recently said “these heroes are a natural fit for our company because they bring the characteristics of dedication, commitment to safety, teamwork and excellence in all they do, which align with the utility industry and our company culture.”

Both CSX and Southern Company are consistently recognized for their leadership in military recruitment and on-the-job training because of their sincere, proven commitment to recruiting and retaining veterans. We admire their leadership. But most importantly, we salute every man and woman who has served in America’s armed forces, and we thank them for their service.

 


The Morning Consult: America’s Consumers Will Pay the Price for EPA’s Carbon Regulations

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

The evidence continues to mount against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a set of costly and overreaching regulations designed to curtail the use of coal-based electricity here at home. New data confirms that EPA’s proposed rule on existing power plants will force higher energy costs on American consumers and businesses while providing no real global environmental benefit.

A recently released study by NERA Economic Consulting reveals that EPA’s proposal is the most costly environmental regulation ever imposed on the electric power sector. Under the plan, compliance costs could range from $366 billion to $479 billion, with annual costs averaging $41 billion or more, and consumers would be forced to spend $560 billion on ways to cut electricity use. NERA’s analysis also projects double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states as a result of the plan, with 14 states potentially facing peak-year electricity rate increases exceeding 20 percent. Higher electricity costs will affect all aspects of our economic system, from manufacturing costs to the transportation of goods to the operating expenses of businesses. These increased prices on goods and services will be inflicted on American consumers, impacting households’ budgets and creating a ripple effect throughout the entire economy. Business owners will be forced to choose between paying higher energy bills and creating new jobs, finding themselves less and less competitive here at home and in the global marketplace.

EPA is making its best attempt to control how our country’s electricity is produced, and all of us will suffer as a result. Thanks to previous regulations from EPA – most notably the Mercury Air Toxic Standards rule – more than 350 coal-fueled power plants are set to retire or be converted by 2015. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will only exacerbate this already dangerous situation. According to NERA, coal retirements are projected to increase by at least 45,000 megawatts of power – a number greater than the entire power supply of New England. Since EPA’s proposed regulations essentially ban the construction of new coal-fired plants under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, the reduced supply of coal-fired electricity will severely impact the reliability of our electric grid. The strain on our electric grid was readily apparent during last year’s Polar Vortex, when coal-fired plants set for retirement were working at full capacity to meet demand other fuels could not provide.

Across the country, state legislators have expressed opposition to EPA’s approach to setting carbon standards for existing coal-fired power plants. To date, 31 legislative bodies, governors and attorneys general have stood up to the EPA’s overreach through legislation, resolutions or letters directly sent to the administration.

Despite the wide-reaching and detrimental impacts this proposal will have on our economy, job market and electric grid, EPA is determined to continue its regulatory crusade against the coal industry. Sadly, it’s American consumers who will be left footing the bill.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. & America’s Power Have a Message for You: Get Out and Vote

I’m pleased to announce that America’s Power and our longtime partner, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., have joined forces on a new initiative to encourage voter participation in this November’s midterm elections.

Dale Jr. is not only a NASCAR driver – he’s a business owner who understands how policy decisions made in Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the country stand to impact consumers and our broader economy. As Dale Jr. tells us in his new video, “protecting low-cost energy from coal isn’t a partisan issue, and everyone stands to lose if regulations are imposed that increase energy costs for families and businesses.”

Do you know where your candidates stand on important energy issues? Our country’s future is at a critical juncture, and we must elect strong advocates for affordable, reliable electricity powered by coal to keep our energy costs low and our economy on the right track.

America’s energy future is in your hands. Make sure you get out and vote on or before November 4.

 


New Data Confirms Consumers and Businesses Will Bear the Burden of EPA’s Costly Proposed Carbon Regulations

A new study by NERA Economic Consulting exposes the truth about EPA’s proposed carbon regulations for America’s power plants: the price tag of the plan is unlike anything we’ve seen before and American consumers and businesses will be stuck with the tab.

NERA’s analysis confirms the economic costs of EPA’s plan are staggering, and include:

  • Compliance costs totaling $366 billion or more
  • Annual costs for consumers of $41 billion or more
  • Double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states
  • Peak year electricity price increases exceeding 20 percent in 14 states

These costs are especially concerning when compared to other rules imposed by EPA. As proposed, EPA’s carbon regulations will far outpace the costs of compliance for all EPA rules for power plants in 2010 ($7 billion) and the annual cost of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule ($10 billion), which is already responsible for the planned shutdown of a significant portion of the U.S. coal fleet. EPA’s proposal will rapidly increase coal retirements, shuttering 45,000 megawatts or more of coal-based electricity—more than the entire electricity supply of New England. With most of these retirements projected to occur within the next five years, EPA is sending us down a dangerous path towards weakened electric reliability and power outages during critical times.

Despite these significant costs and threats to reliability, EPA’s proposal would have a meaningless effect on global climate change:  atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be reduced by less than one-half of a percent, equating to reductions in global average temperature of less than 2/100th of a degree, and sea level rise would be reduced by 1/100th of an inch—equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper.

Our fears of economic downturn, weakened electric reliability and rising electricity costs for American families and businesses will become an everyday reality if EPA imposes these dangerous and overreaching regulations. Join us and tell EPA that its “all pain, no gain” regulatory agenda must stop. Submit a comment at www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today.

 


EPA’s Rule 111(d) and the Future of American Innovation: Part 2

Earlier this week, I blogged about my experience at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hispanic business owners who attended the event were especially interested in how the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon standards could impact the future of technology and innovation in America, particularly when it comes to fossil fuels.

Clean coal technologies provide investment, jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. One of the most pertinent issues for minority firms is how to harness these opportunities and benefit from clean coal technologies. We all know the environmental benefits of more efficient baseload coal-fired electric generation: fewer emissions and greater efficiencies. There are, however, a number of economic benefits, like improvements in reliability of power, stable electric rates and opportunities for business to partner with the expansion of clean coal technologies.

This is not to say that renewables and other forms of baseload power do not provide similar benefits as clean coal technologies, but all fuels have a place in the American electricity generation mix and no one should be singled out as a winner or a loser.  The wholesale abandonment of a diverse mix of energy sources will dramatically change the economic realities of energy affordability and reliability in America.  The further development and dissemination of clean coal technologies, therefore, is essential for continued economic growth here at home and around the world. Regulations should reflect that reality, especially if we truly want to reduce emissions, which is a global issue, not just an American one.

America should lead the way in developing clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage. America should be the leader in getting other countries to adopt OUR technologies for carbon management, just as American business should be given a chance to grow as the nation takes the lead in carbon management strategies for electric power.

The regulatory environment must foster such innovation. Hispanic businesses and other minority businesses cannot base growth on using less abundant, less reliable and more expensive electricity. Importantly, the global community cannot endure such a course of action given that China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa will utilize more coal-fired electricity and will need American ingenuity to mitigate environmental effects.

EPA’s proposed regulations are connected to regulatory processes on every level of government—from policymakers in Washington, D.C. to state-level public service commissions to local co-ops and municipalities. It is critical that all Americans who stand to be impacted (that is: all Americans) weigh in on this important issue. We must ensure that EPA hears our concerns in the form of comments to the federal docket, as well as through conversations with local and state elected officials. We should use everything at our disposal to improve our environment, economy and opportunities. Leaving clean coal technologies behind will hamper those efforts. Get involved.

 


The Morning Consult: The Comment Period May Be Extended… It Still Means Nothing.

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have heard America’s plea for an extended comment period for its proposed carbon regulations, but the agency remains completely out of touch. An additional 45 days is still not nearly enough time for states and American consumers to fully comprehend the 700+ pages of these complex and lengthy regulations. And regardless of the comment period extension, the fact remains that not only are these regulations a threat to American jobs and the economy – they are legally flawed and will fundamentally change the way electricity is generated and distributed.

This month, the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to examine the challenges that states face in complying with the proposed carbon regulations and highlighted many issues associated with the proposal, including threats to their economies and electric reliability. The public utility commissioners who testified had very similar reactions to the proposal, all agreeing that it was a dramatic undertaking that does not acknowledge the complications that accompany the process of applying EPA’s inflexible emissions “goals” to the unique energy makeup of each state.

Beyond the multitude of costly consequences—threatening electric reliability, promoting overreliance on natural gas, increasing electricity prices for consumers and businesses, causing job losses and imposing mandates to use less electricity—the proposal’s fatal flaw is that EPA lacks the legal authority to do what it has proposed. EPA’s rule extends far beyond its limited legal authority and overrides each state’s prerogative to determine its own electricity prices. On top of that, the proposed standards are based on flawed information and assumptions that will result in devastating economic impacts for all sectors of our economy. All while having no meaningful effect on global climate change.

Our nation should certainly be working to build a diverse energy portfolio, but the approach of the Obama Administration is undermining gradual fuel diversification in the name of radical ideology. Several utilities have already predicted that we could experience another polar vortex this winter, and the only way to avoid the potential accompanying power outages is to continue using our most reliable energy source – coal. Taking coal out of America’s energy mix is an equation that doesn’t make any sense: it raises costs, eliminates jobs and offers potential electricity loss for thousands nationwide.

I’m not sure what will ultimately convince EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that these regulations need to be abandoned, no matter the length of the comment period.

 


President Obama “Leading” The Way On Climate Change – But Who Is Following?

Looking back on last week’s United Nations (UN) climate talks and the environmental community’s self-professed “Climate Week,” it is more apparent now than ever before that President Obama is completely out of touch with the American people he was elected to serve. His administration chose to go “all in” on the showmanship surrounding the UN summit in New York at a time when Americans are profoundly concerned about the U.S. economy and our national security.

Even as President Obama addressed the world stage, the potential impacts of his damaging energy policy remain largely unaddressed here at home. President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly employ misleading rhetoric about their overreaching and costly regulations, and his entire administration continues to push a carbon plan that no other nation wants to follow.

Speaking before the UN last Tuesday, President Obama chose to emphasize the “leadership” our nation will display by stringently regulating carbon, ignoring the fact that these regulations will threaten American jobs and the economy with little to no environmental benefit. Yet instead of heeding warnings about electricity cost increases and electric grid reliability, the administration continues to prioritize its own political legacy over our nation’s energy stability.

As if the sheer futility of its plan is not enough to stop EPA from pushing forward, some of the world’s largest carbon emitters failed to even show up to the climate summit last week. Furthermore, nations like Australia and Germany have rolled back carbon taxes and other costly policies that hinder the production of affordable energy because of the adverse economic affects. These leaders share a similar view that President Obama just doesn’t get: it’s not worth sacrificing economic competitiveness for costly regulations that ultimately have little impact on the environment.

It is time for the Obama Administration to let go of its blind ambition and recognize that its “leadership” on climate change will fail to produce real results. Instead, the president should take a cue from other world leaders and promote a balanced, all-of-the above approach to energy. Because as long as President Obama pursues these aggressive and economically harmful policies, he will stand alone.