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Coal Doesn’t Only Fuel Electricity – Coal Fuels Jobs & Local Economies Across the U.S.

Based on what we’ve seen, it is clear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking to create a “one-size-fits-all” solution to greenhouse gas regulations. Last September, EPA proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that place a de facto ban on new coal-fueled power plants. EPA gave no flexibility to states on the rule, prompting a lawsuit from Nebraska and widespread ire from other coal-dependent states. Their outrage stems from the fact that the coal industry fuels thousands of jobs, our affordable electricity, and power plants that invest in their communities. Coal supports more than 800,000 jobs across the country, and the more than 500 power plants in the U.S. sustain communities wherever they are located.

Dozens of states across the U.S. use a large percentage of coal-based power to generate their electricity. In 2013, EIA reported that 31 states generated at least one quarter of their electricity from coal, and 17 of those states generated at least half of their electricity from coal—an increase over 2012. The states that rely on coal are not all from one area, either. The top 10 states for coal-based generation including West Virginia, Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio and New Mexico have diverse economies and are scattered across the U.S. One thing they all have in common is that their electricity rates run below the national average.

Mining, transportation, and power generation employ thousands of Americans. West Virginia employed more than 22,000 miners in 2012. While it may not be surprising that a state like West Virginia is home to many coal miners, what you might not know that mining employs more than 7,000 workers in Wyoming and more than 5,000 in Alabama. According to a recent study in Nebraska, coal power generation and transportation supported 22,844 jobs in the state.

States also offer us great examples of the newest power plant technologies that are lauded on the global stage. If NSPS is enacted, local communities will miss out on new, cutting-edge power plants and the economic growth spurred by their construction.

Arkansas’ John W. Turk Plant has been operating as one of the cleanest, most efficient coal-based power plants in the US. This 600 megawatt “ultra-supercritical” plant uses less coal and produces fewer emissions while still providing affordable base load power to the local grid.

In Mississippi, the Kemper County Energy Facility has brought economic development to the local community through jobs, commerce and tax revenue. When it is complete, this plant will be the cleanest coal-based power plant in America.

States across America are picking up on the fact that the national energy policy put forth by EPA has failed to take into account their specific circumstances. Unfortunately, innovative plants like Kemper County and Turk will be a thing of the past. Other communities will be unable to construct power plants that create job opportunities, economic growth and tax revenue. Jobs will be slashed and states with high levels of coal-generation will be vulnerable to high prices and less reliability.

To support the economic growth and job opportunities coal provides to local communities, visit www.EPARegsCostJobs.com today.


Protecting Grid Reliability Now, So We Don’t Regret it Later

Last week, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on electric grid reliability concerns—something that was definitely necessary after a series of Wall Street Journal articles came out highlighting the vulnerability of the grid if there were to be a coordinated attack in conjunction with internal analysis from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). While those that normally contribute to the discussion of grid reliability were well represented, it was notable that EPA was absent from the hearing.

This winter was one of the coldest we’ve had in a while, and the changing temperatures all but gave us whiplash. Thanks to coal-based electricity, however, none of us truly suffered the bite of Old Man Winter as the power stayed on. The same may not be true this summer when coal-fueled plants that were running at full capacity this winter come off line due to EPA regulations. In fact, we could all be in for a rude awakening when rolling brownouts and blackouts begin this summer due to an overreliance on one fuel source that is just not capable of meeting demand in real time.

In terms of generating electricity, coal-based power has some general advantages over natural gas that are magnified under conditions like the polar vortex. Natural gas is a “just-in-time fuel”, piped in as power plants use it – so pipeline disruptions due to a drop in temperature or spike in demand impact generation in real time. Coal, on the other hand, is stock-piled at the plant and generally not subject to such disruptions. Further, the price of coal has remained historically steady, whereas the price of natural gas has been much more volatile. Moving forward, we can expect that the price of natural gas will continue to rise much more rapidly than the price of coal. EIA projects that real natural gas prices for electric power generation will increase three times more than coal over the next 20 years.

Since American Electric Power (AEP) ran about 90% of its coal plants that are set to retire in 2015 to help meet demand through the coldest days of winter, it makes you wonder why people want to eliminate the most reliable form of electricity. Further, it begs the question as to why EPA isn’t front and center at a hearing on reliability when its regulations will be responsible for all but ensuring an unreliable grid and higher electricity costs for all.

There’s still time for you to tell EPA that you want a reliable source of affordable electricity. Visit www.EPAregscostjobs.com today and make your voice heard.

 


I May Have Misheard You, Sierra Club: Did You Call Job Loss “Transitioning?”

Once again, Sierra Club is talking out of both sides of its mouth. And this time, it is to the detriment of America’s union workers. The Daily Caller released an investigative piece this week outlining the backroom strategies employed by Sierra Club in an attempt to convince union workers that shutting down existing coal plants is in their best interest. Here at America’s Power, we know that such a claim couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The recently unearthed internal Sierra Club memo details how the group “spins” job losses and economic downturn that will result from the decline of our nation’s coal industry, encouraging the group’s activists to use downright deceptive tactics in order to mislead union workers. The entire memo had an air of condescension, portraying union workers as ill-informed, uneducated and easily swayed, requiring wording and concepts to be largely “dumbed down.”

The memo from Margrete Strand, former director of Sierra Club’s Labor and Trade Program, gave very clear instructions to activists:

Don’t ever use the phrase ‘killing’ to refer to jobs, business or the coal industry… Talk about transitions, phases, and gradual changes in the way we create and distribute energy.

Don’t allow Sierra Club to be branded as simply an environmental interest group juxtaposed to the interests of workers and communities.

To set the record straight, we think it’s important to note that the Sierra Club mission to dismantle the coal industry across our nation does ignore the interests of workers and communities, plain and simple. Remember, this is the same group that celebrated the shutdown of the 150th coal plant as part of its Beyond Coal campaign. In turn, Sierra Club celebrated thousands of lost jobs and widespread economic devastation in the communities that are home to these plants.

Of course, the Sierra Club will never tell its activists—or in turn, targeted constituencies like union workers—about the industry’s $130 billion dollar investment in clean coal technology to reduce major pollutants by more than 90 percent, not to mention its pledge to spend another $100 billion over the next decade to further reduce emissions.

Sierra Club does indeed want to start a transition – a transition to an economy where electricity prices and unemployment both skyrocket due to reckless environmental activism. We should, instead, “transition” to an economy that facilitates job growth, affordable power, reliable electricity and further investment in clean coal technology.

 


The People “Behind the Plug”

America’s coal industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States. If you were to trace your electricity all the way from your electrical socket back to the mines that extract the coal, you would encounter a diverse group of skilled workers and learn some interesting facts along the way.

For instance, in 2012, the average U.S. coal miner was 44 years old and earned more than $80,000 annually. This is far higher than the average annual wage across the country. Also of interest, coal miners receive specialized training that allows them to do their jobs well and to do them safely.

Coal is mined in 25 states and is responsible for more than 800,000 jobs right here at home. Around one-third of these jobs are directly tied to coal mining, while two-thirds represent indirect jobs. When a mine shuts down, it unleashes a domino effect of lost jobs, lost hours and lost wages for all those workers who support our electricity generation—from start to finish.

Kentucky alone saw a 40 percent drop in coal-based employment between July 2011 and July 2013. Additional jobs were lost in the second half of last year. Bill Bissett, Kentucky Coal Council president, recently told us that in Eastern Kentucky, seven thousand direct mining jobs have been lost. Yet, as staggering as this figure may sound, it fails to include the thousands of other jobs that are in jeopardy—not only indirectly tied to mine operation and power generation, but also from businesses that depend on affordable power from coal.

These skilled, well-paying, American jobs are vanishing before our eyes due to President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overzealous actions to regulate carbon emissions, irrespective of the real-world costs. .

A recent report by the Nebraska Public Power District concluded that coal transportation and power generation, contribute $1.4 billion in labor income and more than 22,800 jobs in Nebraska. It’s hard to fathom how President Obama and his EPA can claim that their rules won’t uproot American jobs or cause economic harm when we know firsthand that the opposite is true.

It is readily apparent that the EPA and environmental groups continuously ignore the collateral damage of their climate agenda. Help us protect American jobs, America’s economy and America’s energy future today by filing a comment with the EPA.


A Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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.


New Study Reveals Billions in Costs, Lost Jobs Under NRDC’s Carbon Regulation Proposal

This week, we released a detailed economic analysis of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) carbon regulation proposal, first put forth by NRDC in December 2012 and updated last week.

The newest version of NRDC’s proposal ludicrously asserts that its plan to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants would carry no costs at all and would actually spur numerous benefits. Worse yet, the NRDC proposal recommends a system-based approach (also known as “outside-the-fence”) that is essentially a cap-and-trade program. Our analysis, performed by leading research firm the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), clearly demonstrates that NRDC left out some critical facts including the $13 to $17 billion-per-year price tag for consumers and the millions of jobs America stands to lose under its proposed policy.

Our economic analysis further projects the NRDC proposal would cost consumers a total of $116 to $151 billion during the period of 2018-2033. And, retail electricity prices would increase by double digit percentages in as many as 29 states.

Over this same time period, net job losses could total as many as 2.85 million. NRDC projects net job gains in the thousands, but only in the years 2016 and 2020.

NRDC also asserts that gas-fired generation would increase by 2 percent. Our economic analysis found that natural gas-fired generation would increase by 8-16 percent to keep up with demand, while rates would simultaneously increase by as much as 16 percent.

The results of our economic analysis reveal that the NRDC proposal is, in fact, all pain with very little gain. And the proposal’s failure to mention the many potential consequences, like cost increases and job losses, suggests that the group is ignoring reality in order to drum up support for its impractical plan. A more reasonable approach to greenhouse gas regulations would offer more flexibility and would focus on measures that can be taken at power plants to reduce their impact, while maintaining dependable, low-cost, coal-based electricity.

Here at America’s Power, we support an “inside-the-fence,” source-based approach that bases emissions reductions on measures taken at existing power plants. This would include many improvements power plants can make to their facilities that improve efficiency, remove emissions and more. Being able to implement measures at individual generating units is a common sense approach to working with utilities and achieving significant emissions reductions and environmental improvements. Let’s work together to craft a solution that works for our consumers and for America’s energy future.

Join us in asking the EPA to set common sense policies and to protect American jobs today.


Real People, Real Stories

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.


Rising Energy Costs are Straining Families’ Budgets

A recent report concluded what many American families already understand all too well – energy costs in the U.S. are on the rise. Since 2011, real energy costs for middle- and low-income families have increased by an astounding 27 percent. These costs are rising quickly, while real incomes have declined.

We rolled out a new hub on our website last week that features interesting facts that puts rising energy costs into terms to which we can all relate.

For example, the average American family will spend $479.33 per month on energy costs in 2014. That’s enough to buy 61 rotisserie chickens or 121 gallons of milk. Aside from necessities like food and housing, this year’s average energy cost total is enough to cover the cost of a kitchen remodel, or tablets for an entire elementary school class.

These figures highlight how energy is competing with other basic needs like housing, food and healthcare within families’ budgets. Sadly, as energy costs are projected to increase, families will see little relief in the near future.

The problem of high energy costs will only be exacerbated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as it sets overreaching carbon emissions regulations for power plants. EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal-fueled power plants promises to increase energy costs by placing a de facto ban on the construction of any new coal plants. By eliminating an affordable resource that offers reliable, baseload power to the electricity grid and that supports thousands of jobs across the country, EPA is setting our communities up for higher energy prices with no relief in sight.

By limiting our nation’s energy costs through the use of a diverse, affordable energy mix, we can lighten the burden on our hard-working families.

Check out the new site to learn more and see how you can take action to protect affordable power derived from coal.