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Growing Up With Coal

Supporters of America’s Power know we regularly ask them to share their story and explain the importance of coal to their communities and families. Reading their stories is the best aspect of my work, because I completely understand what our supporters mean when they say coal lights up their lives. As a native of coal country, I know their explanation is both literal and figurative, because coal did the exact same thing for me. Just like our followers shared their story with America’s Power, I want to share my story with all of you.

I say coal literally and figuratively lights up lives because for me, and countless others, it’s true. Coal literally kept the lights on when I was growing up in Kentucky, as it provides 92 percent of the state’s electricity. Figuratively, however, coal lights up my life because it gave me a better life.

Thanks to coal, my father had steady employment since the age of 19 and worked his way up to chief electrician of the mine where he was employed. The nights were long and the job was tough, but Dad always looked the same when he walked through our door – work-worn boots, mining light on his helmet, a check in his hand and a smile on his face. He’d hand the check to my mother and we knew all of our family’s needs would be met.

The skills my father developed as a miner helped him become a small business owner in 2007, and he and his partner John have seen great success as contractors for the refurbishment of mining equipment. My father is no longer a coal miner, yet coal still provides absolutely everything for my family. Our family story is a testament to the economic opportunity created by jobs both directly and indirectly related to coal mining. As the Obama Administration and its environmentalist allies place a target on the back of this industry – and consequently on the backs of hard-working Americans like my father – I feel even more compelled to share my story.

Be on the lookout for my personal blog series, “Growing Up With Coal,” where I will regularly share tidbits of my life as a coal miner’s daughter and weigh-in on environmental regulations from the perspective of someone who understands that for many coal isn’t just fuel, but a way of life.


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.  

 


Small Businesses Run on Coal-Based Electricity

Although last week was National Small Business Week, many Americans recognize the importance of small businesses in their communities year-round. Small businesses are crucial for economic growth as they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. In fact, the most recent government data reveal small businesses make up 99.7 percent of American businesses, with more than half of Americans either owning or working in these settings. To successfully operate each day, it’s vital these businesses can afford all of their necessities, often beginning with electricity.

Reasonable and steady electricity rates ensure businesses owners have the funds to hire new employees and invest in growth opportunities. As coal is America’s most abundant and affordable fuel source, it plays an important role in keeping energy costs low.

Throughout the years, America’s Power has travelled the nation to meet with small business owners and learn about how they rely on coal-based electricity. From a packaging company in Ohio, to an online specialty food shop based in Nebraska, affordable energy helps small businesses survive and thrive in local, national and even global markets. As Olivia Albright from Ohio said, low-cost electricity ensures she can create jobs, not take them away by having to choose between energy bills and payroll.

For decades, America’s business owners have enjoyed the competitive advantage of affordable electricity, an advantage that has also helped our country become the market leader it is today. By continuing to support affordable power from coal, America is supporting the spirit of small business.

To learn more about coal’s impact on businesses and the U.S. economy, check out CoalFacts.org.

 


Courts must step in and stop EPA’s brazen overreach

This column originally appeared on FoxNews.com on May 5, 2015.

It’s been said that ‘timing is everything’ and time is just one of the issues at stake in the legal proceedings surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. Specifically, the Court must decide if a proposed federal regulation, like the CPP, can be struck down before it is finalized.

In this case, that would be the right decision.

Last month, attorneys on behalf of Murray Energy Corporation and a bipartisan coalition of 15 states argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit seeking to have the Court dismiss EPA’s plan. One of the arguments made by EPA is that the Court must not dismiss the rule because it is still tentative, could change, and the EPA could still “even withdraw the proposed rule”.

When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, however, the EPA is clearly talking out of both sides of its mouth. As EPA attorneys seek to convince the courts the proposed rule could be influenced or even withdrawn based on the feedback received in the public comment period, EPA officials are blatantly singing another tune.

Just one week prior to the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an energy symposium, “[The Clean Power Plan] is going to happen. We have the legal – not just right and authority but responsibility – to do it.”

In March, McCarthy said, “EPA is going to regulate… If folks are thinking any of these pieces aren’t going to happen – and (the Clean Power Plan) isn’t going to be implemented, I think they need to look at the history of the Clean Air Act more carefully.”

These are hardly the words of an agency that is still making up its mind.

Fortunately, Judge Thomas Griffith seemed to pick up on this during oral arguments, asking the EPA if McCarthy’s remarks suggest that the agency’s comment period is a “sham.” While the EPA argued it wasn’t, the evidence certainly suggests otherwise.

When the EPA held field hearings on the rule, they neglected to hold them in coal-rich areas that would be among those most hurt by its plan. EPA’s air quality chief Janet McCabe told Congress the agency held hearings in “locations where people were comfortable coming.”

A sincere comment period should not be about comfort. It should be about hearing the impacts – both good and bad – of a proposed rule. Unfortunately, the EPA seems uninterested in doing the right thing.

It is essential the courts act now to stop EPA’s Clean Power Plan because the impacts on states are already being felt. EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a specific plan that will lead to a nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 30 percent by 2030. These plans are to be submitted to EPA by June 2016.

These plans represent an extraordinarily complex undertaking. States will need to study their electricity infrastructure, change their policies and laws, adjust their regulatory structures, all while ensuring electric reliability isn’t put at risk. Many states suggest the development of such a plan will require three years or more, yet EPA is giving them just one. Adding insult to injury, all of this work must be done irrespective of legal challenges that will likely overturn the rule.

To accommodate this accelerated schedule, states already are dedicating taxpayer dollars to prepare for the rule. Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and South Dakota are just some of the states that report using significant amounts of staff time studying the proposed rule and the substantial changes they would need to make to implement it.

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Attorneys General Voice Concerns with the Clean Power Plan’s Legality at U.S. Senate Hearing

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has been the subject of serious legal critiques, and last week’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety was no exception. During the hearing, Attorneys General from West Virginia and Oklahoma made their case for why they joined with 13 other states to file a legal challenge to block the plan based on the egregious overreach of federal power it represents.

Tuesday’s hearing, “Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan,” focused on the serious legal questions surrounding EPA’s plan, which in the words of Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, threatens the integrity of our system of ‘cooperative federalism.’ Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey (WV) and Scott Pruitt (OK) declared the plan both violates the Constitution and will reap devastating impacts on communities across the U.S. Former EPA General Counsel Roger Martella also testified to the legal concerns that arise from the new powers EPA is attempting to exert through the rule.

From the hearing:

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito: “We know from nearly five decades of experience that the Clean Air Act works best when implemented in the spirit of cooperative federalism. When the federal government works with the states as partners, we can, and have, improved our air quality and protected our economy and our electricity grid at the same time.

However, the Clean Power Plan does none of this in my opinion. Instead, we have EPA dictating to the states and effectively micromanaging intrastate electricity policy decisions to a degree even the agency admits is unprecedented. This raises a broad array of legal issues and is, quite simply, bad policy.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “It is my duty as the chief legal officer for the State of West Virginia to fight against this unlawful power grab, which is harming our citizens.”

Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt: “No state should comply with the Clean Power Plan if it means surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their power generation needs.”

“The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to do what it is seeking to accomplish in the so-called Clean Power Plan.”

Mr. Roger Martella, Jr. Partner, Sidley Austin LLP: “In essence, the proposed [CPP] would be the nation’s broadest and most extensive regulation of energy itself and establish EPA’s authority effectively to reorganize the entire energy generation sector.”

Legal experts agree that EPA’s proposal is an illegal usurpation of state powers for a number of reasons, three of which Mr. Morrisey outlined during the hearing:

1. The Clean Air Act’s Section 112 exclusion prohibits the Section 111(d) rule.

2. The Section 111(d) rule is illegal because it seeks to transform the states’ energy economies, rather than just regulating particular sources.

3. The Section 111(d) rule illegally commandeers the states.

We applaud Attorneys General Morrisey and Pruitt for standing up for their home states and fighting the Obama Administration’s hostile overreach. EPA’s plan not only threatens the future of American energy production – it violates federal laws passed by Congress.

 


Industry Spotlight: Powering Better Lives through Community Service

In honor of National Volunteer Month this April, we’re taking a look at an energy company with a spirit for community service. This month’s industry spotlight is shining on Arch Coal, a company aiming to “brighten its community through philanthropic, economic and educational contributions.”

Community service, or as Arch calls it “strengthening society,” is one of three pillars for social responsibility. As Chairman and CEO John W. Eaves puts it, even in times of economic challenge “doing the right thing” is always Arch’s bottom line. This philosophy holds especially true in West Virginia and Wyoming, as a majority of Arch employees and their families live in these states. Arch’s Black Thunder Mine in Wyoming sponsors annual Race for the Cure teams and was awarded for its disaster relief efforts after a devastating tornado in 2008.

Arch also promotes education through its annual Teacher Achievement Awards, which provides $77,000 in cash prizes to outstanding teachers in Wyoming and West Virginia. Another $50,000 was also granted to West Virginia University for its unique reforestation research efforts.

Arch is involved with countless other service projects, demonstrating the high standard this company has set for community involvement. We thank them for not only helping to power America through the production of coal, but for also powering better lives in communities across the nation.

 


India Putting Its People Ahead of Obama’s Climate Crusade

While interning for America’s Power last summer, I explored the willingness of other nations to follow President Obama’s lead on adopting stringent carbon policies and, thereby, reduce the use of coal-based electricity. U.S. allies Canada and Australia refuse to follow the President’s lead, and China’s cooperation remains questionable.

All of this is critically important as the President prepares to go to the Paris climate summit this November, where he will face tough questions as to whether the U.S. can meet the ideological carbon reduction goals he pledged.

The Obama Administration is quick to assert the U.S. can reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. When pressed, however, EPA officials readily admit the U.S. Clean Power Plan alone cannot tackle global climate change as it is heavily dependent on global cooperation, specifically from developing nations like India and China. It is doubtful this cooperation will be coming, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already indicated “he would not bow to foreign pressure” to cut carbon emissions as doing so will inhibit his pledge to bring electricity to all 1.2 billion Indian citizens by 2019. Coal plays a vital role in Modi’s mission to eradicate Indian energy poverty, with state-run Coal India already working to double its coal output over the next four years.

Accompanying increased domestic coal production is a 20 percent increase in FY15 coal imports and the addition of 100,000 MW of clean coal technology. Modi’s approach to energy is laudable, as he understands economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. Through the efficient use of coal Modi can meet his goal of powering India affordably and sustainably. Perhaps Mr. Obama should be following India’s lead, as its energy policies are based on the needs of its citizens and not the legacies of its leaders.


Get the Facts on Coal-Based Electricity

As you read this post from your computer, tablet or smart phone, there’s a good chance it’s powered by coal-based electricity. In fact, many of the devices, machines, cars, buildings and communities around you are fueled by coal, which provides 39 percent of America’s electricity.

This fact and much more can be found on CoalFacts.org, a site aimed at educating Americans about our nation’s most abundant and affordable fuel source. Just one short visit to the site reveals:

  1. The U.S. has the world’s largest recoverable coal reserves – enough to power current demand for nearly 300 years.
  2. States that use more coal to generate electricity have lower electricity rates on average.
  3. Coal is responsible for more than 700,000 jobs in the U.S.
  4. Emissions from coal-fueled power plants have decreased by 90 percent since 1970.

 As our economy and energy needs grow, coal will continue to play a critical role in providing affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity for our nation. By sharing these coal facts with others, you can help promote a more secure energy future for America.

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Read the study, share our graphics on Facebook and explore CoalFacts.org to spread the word about affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.