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EPA Outdoes Itself with Final Carbon Plan, Consumers Pay the Price

When it comes to bureaucratic overreach, the Environmental Protection Agency just took the proverbial cake when issuing its final rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In doing so, EPA usurped the authority of virtually every state in the nation, while unleashing both sky-high energy cost increases for consumers and irreversible damage to the reliability of America’s electric grid.

EPA’s final rule is the most expensive ever imposed on the electric power sector. According to analysis of the proposed rule conducted by NERA Economic Consulting, consumers will see double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states if the plan is implemented. These increases will be particularly devastating for the 59 million low- and middle-income families who may be forced to choose to keep the lights on or food on the table.

How else does the final rule affect America?

  • The nation’s electricity grid will be jeopardized. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. coal fleet is currently scheduled to retire, largely due to recent EPA policies. Once coal plants go offline, they cannot be brought back online to generate electricity during times of greatest demand. As a result, America’s grid, which is not prepared to operate on renewable energy sources, would require an estimated $2 trillion in upgrades by 2030.
  • Perhaps the biggest blow of all, EPA’s carbon regulations will have virtually no effect on its stated purpose: climate change. At best, the rule will reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations by less than one-half of one percent, global average temperature by less than 2/100th of a degree and sea level rise by the thickness of three sheets of paper – all at a cost few can afford.

Because EPA deliberately misinterpreted the Clean Air Act, this illegal rule engendered the opposition of elected and environmental officials from 32 states and legal experts. In fact, President Obama’s former law professor, renowned constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, likened the regulation to “burning the Constitution.”

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Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said it best today: “This rule fails across the board, but most troubling is that it fails the millions of families and businesses who rely on affordable electricity to help them keep food on the table and the lights on.”

We will continue to fight until this illegal takeover of America’s energy system is overturned by the courts. Stay tuned for updates on how America’s Power is making sure electricity remains affordable for all Americans.


America’s Real Moral Obligation: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Communities

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on July 17, 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency relies on a predictable playbook to bolster public support for its agenda. Using hyperbolic rhetoric to tug at Americans’ heartstrings, the agency routinely fails to disclose important considerations like costs and consequences. Case in point is a recent blog post by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on our “moral obligation” to support radical climate change initiatives like her agency’s proposed plan to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and efforts to limit fossil fuel development abroad. Not surprisingly, the blog post makes no mention of the negative impacts of these regulations.

While Administrator McCarthy is correct to assert America has a moral obligation to help struggling people around the globe, it is not in the way that she calls for it. Our real moral obligation is to protect vulnerable communities, including hard-working families, businesses and our economy, from EPA’s proposed plan. Overreaching environmental policies, like those her agency is pursuing as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, will lead to a decrease in affordable electricity, adding up to economic hardships for our nation’s most vulnerable communities and for billions of people around the globe.

The climate policies Administrator McCarthy claims we have a moral obligation to support will phase out electricity from fossil fuels, including coal. Considering the fact that coal-based generation alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of our electricity supply in the United States and nearly 41 percent around the world, the costs and consequences are substantial.

American households, particularly those of vulnerable groups like minorities and the elderly, face rising electricity costs and are spending a substantial portion of their incomes just to keep the power on. These households already struggling to make ends meet will see these costs piled on top of the 17 percent of their take-home pay they already spend on energy needs.

Energy poverty is arguably one of the most significant human crises we face. In fact, it is estimated that one in seven people globally lack adequate access to electricity. Far too many families go without the electricity required for basic needs like clean water, safe heating and cooking, and medical equipment. By working to limit fossil fuel use abroad, EPA will prevent developing nations from experiencing the benefits that accompany low-cost, reliable electricity including economic development, the adaption of new technologies and advanced health care.

The climate movement is grasping at straws by attempting to supplant fossil fuels with costlier, less reliable fuel sources like wind and solar. Simply put, these resources cannot replace affordable, dependable fuel sources like coal. Renewables aren’t able to provide around-the-clock power generation because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Likewise, EPA and its allies like to ignore the fossil fuel industry’s tremendous advancements in championing clean energy technologies, which are reducing emissions and ensuring these abundant resources can meet ever-growing energy demand in a cleaner and more efficient manner than ever before.

It appears Administrator McCarthy has no intention of scaling back her agency’s climate change initiatives, which are nothing more than a last-ditch legacy-building effort for President Obama. Our real moral obligation is protecting our own community and the communities that need our help most urgently from the serious threats these regulations pose domestically and internationally. To fulfill this moral obligation, we must stand united in fighting EPA’s dangerous agenda.


The Future of Energy: 2016 Presidential Candidates on Powering America

The pool of individuals vying for the presidency has long since been in the double digits and continued to grow just this week. For the average family, staying informed on the specific stances of the multitude of candidates can be a daunting task. That’s why America’s Power is helping voters cut through the noise through a series of events called “The Road to 2016.”

In a hyper-politicized age, Americans too often only hear about the controversial, hot-button issue of the day. Which is precisely why The Road to 2016 is designed to help citizens learn about the candidates’ views on topics like energy that can too easily be drowned out by incessant loops of the same political soundbite.

Energy issues are critical to the political discourse leading up to November 2016. The future of the coal industry affects the jobs and livelihoods of more than 700,000 people, as well as electricity prices for every American. Families across the country must understand candidates’ stances on the many issues facing the energy sector and the role it plays in ensuring a healthy economy.

Carly FiorinaAmerica’s Power recently hosted presidential candidate and businesswoman Carly Fiorina in Denver, Colorado, as part of The Road to 2016 series. Given the recent onslaught of regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Fiorina spoke of the impact these rules will have on the American economy. Fiorina in particular addressed the agency’s upcoming carbon regulations, noting: “They’re terrible. Every single one of them ought to be repealed.” She went on to state: “It’s impossible for any single nation acting alone to make any difference at all” when it comes to climate change. If elected president, Fiorina would incentivize companies to invest in clean coal technologies, saying: “The answer to energy is not regulation. It’s innovation.”

In addition to Denver, America’s Power traveled to Des Moines, Iowa in April for an event featuring Governor Bobby Jindal, former Governor Rick Perry and former Senator Rick Santorum. Additional events will be held throughout the year, with the next installment on June 28 in Columbia, South Carolina. In an already inflammatory election cycle, The Road to 2016 is providing a much-needed platform for the American people to hear direct and substantive answers on important energy questions.


A Look at the Paris Climate Talks and the Use of Coal in China and India

By Emma Battle and Cedrick Dalluge

Later this year, more than 190 countries will meet in Paris, France with the aim of formalizing a global agreement to address climate change. The talks, known as COP21, will have two main goals: to curb global warming and to provide funding to help countries invest in cleaner technologies. The U.N. believes the first goal will require a cut in global greenhouse gas emissions of 40 to 70 percent by 2050. The second is based on mobilizing $100 billion per year in funding. Paris attendees are likely to arrive, therefore, with high expectations and tight purse strings. While many world leaders originally hoped COP21 would produce a binding international treaty, political tensions and recent conversations point to the potential for looser, unenforceable pledges, particularly from developing countries.

For example, both India and China have been vocal about their focus on empowering their middle classes, developing their infrastructures and growing their economies. Their paths towards this progress are marked by a similar trend: reliance on low-cost, abundant energy – chiefly coal. China has lifted more than 400 million people out of poverty since 1980, arguably the greatest poverty alleviation movement in history. That nation’s reliance on reliable, affordable coal-based electricity has allowed it to rapidly develop its infrastructure and grow its economy. Its neighbor, India, now seeks to follow suit, using coal-based electricity to end widespread energy poverty and empower its growing middle class.

While some negotiators in Paris this November may forget coal’s history as a tool of economic growth, it’s important this overall message does not get lost in translation: coal, one of the planet’s most abundant resources, still serves as a conduit for empowerment. After watching coal help power the growth of other nation’s economies for decades, developing countries around the world seek to do the same.

It will be interesting to watch how the Paris talks play out, given the many different countries in attendance. No matter the debate, we are hopeful pragmatic voices will speak out in favor of an approach that allows continued economic empowerment for all nations through the use of all of our natural resources.


Sharing Your Story on Affordable Power

In America, affordable power has many different meanings. For our nation as a whole, it means continued economic growth by allowing our factories and businesses to reinvest in operations and create new job opportunities. For the American people, affordable power means more room in household budgets, allowing us to reinvest in our lives and create better opportunities for our families.

Everyone has a story about the role affordable power plays in fueling each and every day. With upcoming regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency threatening America’s access to affordable electricity, it’s time these stories were told.

By visiting www.AmericasPower.org/Share-Your-Story, you can join the movement to protect low-cost electricity by explaining what affordable power means to you. We’ve already heard from hundreds of supporters from across the country. For some, affordable energy means more food on the dinner table each night. For others, it means more money to save for a college education or a much needed family vacation.

Share Your Story

Our partners Regan Smith, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kelley Earnhardt Miller have even shared their own stories about the role affordable power from coal has played in their family history and lives as small business owners.

The fact of the matter is, money matters and Americans would rather spend it on improving their lives – not on unnecessarily high power bills. By raising your voice about the importance of low-cost electricity from coal, you can help keep your extra dollars right where you want and where they are most needed.

Join the movement and share what affordable power means to you by visiting our site. You may see your story featured on our Facebook page in the near future.


SCOTUS Reins in EPA and Stands Up for Americans with MATS Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court took an important step in reining in the Environmental Protection Agency’s egregious overreach last week with a 5-4 vote against the agency’s mercury and air toxics standards for power plants. The Court confirmed what numerous experts have been saying all along: the agency failed to adequately consider the costs its rule would impose on Americans.

In fact, EPA’s disregard was so blatant it put forth a rule that added up to $9.6 billion a year in compliance costs, but only $4 to $6 million in direct benefits. The agency claimed it was able to act in spite of this staggering difference because it deemed the regulation “appropriate and necessary.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, along with four others, vehemently disagreed. In the majority opinion, Justice Scalia asserted “EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants….It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”

Supreme Court

America’s Power, along with millions of other Americans, applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for its ruling. By standing up to this overzealous agency, America’s highest court also stood up for the livelihoods of families and businesses put at risk by EPA’s costly agenda.

We hope this ruling proves to EPA that basing regulations on elitist ideology, instead of what is right for the future of America’s energy and economy, truly is irrational.


The Truth Behind EPA’s Energy Policy

When someone criticizes the Environmental Protection Agency, the normal response nowadays is a retort along the lines of, “What did Mother Nature ever do to you?” or “So, you hate puppies and all things good, then?” Yes, I may be exaggerating, but don’t miss my overall point: Americans should feel free, and indeed obligated, to analyze and criticize the actions of federal government agencies. Since our tax dollars fund these massive institutions, it should be expected that we monitor their policies and initiatives, and EPA is no exception.

For the past several years, EPA has targeted domestic energy industries, particularly those producing fossil fuels, under the guise that doing so will significantly thwart climate change and produce a stronger economy. The coal industry in particular has been pinpointed by such EPA policies, which have been cited as a factor in the closure of 62,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity (393 coal units) in 36 states as of June 18. Entire communities have been devastated by these closures, forcing state officials to cope with weakened regional economies and increased unemployment. Hard-working Americans have seen their way of life destroyed for the sake of EPA’s politically fashionable and hastily implemented agenda.

Unfortunately, these irresponsible practices continue to persist in the form of additional, burdensome regulations. What does this trend actually mean for the environment? Will more layoffs, plant shutdowns and intentional economic dilapidation add up to a greener planet? EPA’s proposed carbon regulations, the centerpiece of its climate change program, would reduce sea level rise by a mere 1/100th of an inch – the equivalent of three sheets of paper! From an economic standpoint, the effects are even less inspiring; economic analysis reveals the costs to comply with the plan could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars. Consumers will ultimately foot the bill for these rising costs, which include double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. Consider the amount of irreversible economic damage these regulations will cause compared to their practically nonexistent environmental achievement and ask yourself, “isn’t there a better way?”

America’s coal industry has undergone vast and impressive improvements to use coal more cleanly and efficiently than ever before. Emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from coal-fueled power plants have been reduced by approximately 90 percent over the period of 1970-2014. Meanwhile, the industry continues to provide jobs to over 700,000 hard-working Americans and pump revenue and ingenuity into our national economy. As America’s most expansive electricity source, coal provides reliable and affordable energy to families and businesses across the country. States benefit as well; those that generate the majority of their electricity from coal pay on average 11 percent less than the national average.

If EPA wants to make a true, lasting difference in the well-being of our national and global environment, stifling entrepreneurship and hindering families is not the right approach. Instead, incentivize existing industries to develop and utilize cleaner technologies. Encourage responsible growth so businesses can more easily contribute to scientific research and innovation. The American people, and their more manageable power bills, will thank you.


Kelley Earnhardt Miller on July 4 and Veterans in the Coal Industry

In our house, the Fourth of July isn’t just a time for food, family, fun and fireworks. It’s a time to reflect on our nation’s freedom and thank the active duty service men and women, as well as our veterans, who have sacrificed to keep our country safe and secure.

We’re proud to count many active members of the military and veterans as fans of NASCAR and JR Motorsports. We love meeting them and thanking them for their service to our nation.

The coal industry has a tremendous legacy of veteran support too, and is a proud leader in veteran employment. From mining in Kentucky and West Virginia, to hauling coal across America’s railways, to building cutting-edge power generation facilities, the coal industry has always welcomed veterans as valuable employees and leaders.

This Fourth of July, the teams at JR Motorsports and America’s Power thank the members of our armed forces both here in the U.S. and stationed abroad. We know that without you we wouldn’t be celebrating this holiday weekend – or any weekend – under the blanket of freedom we all appreciate.

Have a Happy Independence Day, America.