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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.

 

 


The Story of Electricity

Yesterday marked an important anniversary in America’s energy history – 132 years ago, Thomas Edison turned on our country’s first electric grid. Since then, electricity has been a driving force in the growth of America’s economic and social development.

The electric grid crisscrosses our nation, bringing light and power to homes and businesses from coast to coast. Coal has helped power America’s electric grid since 1882 and continues to play an important role today, providing nearly 40 percent of all electricity generated in the country.

To show just how impressive the electric grid really is, the Institute for Energy Research launched the Story of Electricity initiative yesterday:

With new EPA regulations putting the future of coal in jeopardy, the question facing us today is whether the United States’ power grid can adequately provide reliable, affordable electricity if coal is regulated out of existence. The unequivocal answer: absolutely not. The continued use of coal in our energy mix is critical to keep the lights on in America’s homes and businesses.

To keep our nation on the path toward an ever-brighter future powered by safe, affordable and reliable electricity, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.com and take action today.


President Obama’s Record: Bypassing Congress Time & Time Again

President Obama has become famous for his track record of bypassing Congress while in office, especially when it comes to achieving his regulatory agenda. According to the Washington Times, the president has worked around lawmakers 40 times this year, and a White House official recently said that the president would not let Congress stand in the way of any progress to be made. Is this how our forefathers envisioned our democratic process working?

Unfortunately, the president’s 2014 crusade of executive orders is far from over. As the administration prepares for climate talks in Paris next year, the president is looking to make a deal that would persuade other nations to reduce their carbon footprint. This informal treaty, which would commit other countries to meeting certain reduction goals at the risk of public embarrassment, would not have to be ratified by the Senate (where it would likely fail). Countries such as China and India refuse to sign such an agreement as it would hinder their economic development, and other national leaders have come out against the proposal. Recently, Prime Ministers Tony Abbott of Australia and Stephen Harper of Canada stated that they will not be following Obama’s lead, refusing to take actions that would deliberately harm jobs and economic growth.

I am beginning to wonder when the American people will come before the president’s pride during his last years in office. Why do we need to pay the price for years to come just so the president can fulfill his own environmental legacy? President Obama can put us on a better track for the future by withdrawing these harmful carbon regulations and sparing his constituents the financial burden—especially when the only gain is a reduction in sea level by less than five sheets of paper.


Message to EPA on Labor Day: Policies Must Create Jobs, Not Eliminate Them

Yesterday, American workers enjoyed a much-deserved day of rest. Here at America’s Power, we believe that job creation should be a national priority, and our advocacy efforts seek to protect and strengthen America’s workforce.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and EPA are pursuing a regulatory agenda that will have the exact opposite effect and if EPA’s proposed carbon regulations are left unchallenged, many workers will face a much more permanent break from work: unemployment.

EPA has repeatedly made the dubious claim that these new regulations for America’s power plants will create jobs through the construction and management of new energy efficient facilities. But America’s Power has done the math, and we can tell you that this assertion is simply not true. In fact, EPA’s proposed regulations stand to cause widespread job losses across many sectors of the U.S. economy.

What EPA fails to mention is that these construction jobs are only temporary, and few will be maintained once the facilities are built. More so, EPA completely neglected to address, let alone calculate, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that its proposal will eliminate.

America’s coal industry is a proven driver of economic development in cities and towns from coast to coast. Coal mining alone employs more than 80,000 Americans, with hundreds of thousands additional jobs tied to coal production through the manufacturing, electricity, and transportation industries.  It’s these skilled, high-quality jobs that EPA is going after. A myth-busting study by America’s Power revealed that, based on a proposal similar to EPA’s, as many as 178,000 jobs will be lost each year.

Yet, these estimates don’t even account for the job losses that will result from skyrocketing electricity prices for businesses across the U.S. Under EPA’s proposal, the agency will essentially bully states into choosing more expensive, less reliable energy sources in lieu of using affordable coal-based power. This costly switch will ultimately trickle down to businesses and force business owners to face a difficult decision: meet their payroll or pay their utility bills.

The facts don’t lie, and EPA’s proposal is putting America on a dangerous course toward job losses we can’t afford.

Join us in protecting America’s workforce – visit www.KeepAmericasPoweron.org to tell EPA that you support policies that create jobs, not eliminate them.


Spotlight on Bristol

Our hearts are racing in anticipation of the NASCAR races this weekend. Our favorite drivers and teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Regan Smith, will be zooming around the track in what also happens to be one of our favorite cities – Bristol!

Bristol is really unique, as it lies in both Tennessee and Virginia and is coal country’s epicenter in Southwest Virginia. For these two states and their shared city, the affordable electricity provided by coal has long powered homes, businesses and innovation. In Virginia, nearly 30 percent of electricity is generated by coal-fueled power, while Tennessee uses an even greater amount: 41 percent. In 2013, both states boasted electricity prices significantly lower than the national average. Affordable electricity powered by coal enabled homes and business across the region to keep costs down.

Bristol Motor Speedway may have one of the shortest racetracks in the country, but the crowd capacity is over 160,000, making the race this weekend one of NASCAR’s best! When the sun sinks below the horizon, you know the night race is about to start and you can be sure that low-cost, reliable electricity from coal will help keep the lights shining on the track as all-star drivers like Dale Jr. and Regan speed around the track.

If you’ll be at Bristol Motor Speedway, be sure to visit the America’s Power display in the Fan Zone! We’ll be hosting autograph signing sessions with Regan and the #7 pit crew. On Friday, August 22nd, Regan will be meeting fans and signing autographs from 2:30-3:00PM and the pit crew will do the same from 5:30-6:00PM. If you can’t make it to the race, don’t worry! There’s another opportunity to chat with Regan – we’re hosting a twitter chat this Thursday, August 21st from 5:40-6:00PM ET. Participate by tweeting your question that includes the hashtag #AskAmericasPower.

America’s Power is thrilled to claim Regan, Dale Jr. and supporters like you as members of our team. Like we proudly support them on the track, Regan and Dale Jr. proudly join us to support America’s most abundant, reliable, and affordable fuel source. We wish them the best of luck!


Lack of Transparency at EPA

The subject of EPA’s lack of transparency really struck a note with me a couple months ago when I read a piece in the Daily Caller about reporters being constantly frustrated with EPA’s failure to go on the record when coming out with a major climate rule.  According to the article, EPA held a background briefing call with reporters to discuss the next steps in their regulatory agenda but then wouldn’t answer any questions on the matters at hand. Who actually schedules a press call and then doesn’t take questions from credentialed media? It would be one thing if these were one-off calls, but scheduled “on-the-record” briefings where officials can’t be identified by name?  I can only wonder if that’s because people within EPA are afraid that their facts are wrong or that they don’t dare get any personal ink for fear of internal retribution. Regardless of the answer, it’s bizarre and interestingly not a new thing.

Apparently, EPA has had these non-credible background briefing calls since the days of Administrator Lisa Jackson. My favorite quote in Mike Bastasch’s article is from Beth Parke from the Society of Environmental Journalists: “We journalists are personally accountable for what we report about EPA’s actions. Why aren’t your staff members just as accountable for what they tell us? End this insidious practice, which only reinforces public cynicism about a nameless, faceless, feckless federal bureaucracy.”

Unfortunately for EPA, Bastasch’s piece wasn’t the last article on the matter. In July, there was another story about EPA taking three months to respond to reporters and failing to give an “on the record” interview with Janet McCabe. In August, there was an Associated Press article about EPA’s scientific advisors not being allowed to speak with the media, and having their media requests being funneled elsewhere. It seems EPA doesn’t want to accept all of the consequences of their radical regulations, which includes speaking on the record to members of the press regarding said regulations. If the EPA is so confident that their agenda will stand up to the light of day, why aren’t they letting the sunshine in? Considering the fact that thanks to these ill-conceived regulations American jobs and competitiveness will be lost and that all of us will pay the ultimate cost of skyrocketing electricity prices and questionable power when it is most needed, I understand why they are hiding in the shadows. Trust me folks, that’s where I’d be too.