Posts filed under National Affairs

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 Every single one of them ought to be repealed.”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.


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.


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.

 


Setting the Agenda: America’s Power Welcomes New Faces of the 114th Congress

Last Thursday, America’s Power teamed up with Real Clear Politics to host a captivating panel featuring four freshman Senators. These new faces – Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) – gathered to discuss their reaction to the President’s State of the Union address and their hopes for the 114th Congress.

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Almost to a tee, when asked for two words that described their reaction to the SOTU, all said disappointed and missed opportunity. Indeed, it was a missed opportunity as the President by-passed talking about a host of critical policy issues, energy chief among them.

As Senator Rounds succinctly put it, the President offered no insight into our energy situation, but instead offered “a defense of where we are, and offense about what he wouldn’t do to work with us.”

The President’s resistance to compromise echoes the resistance his Environmental Protection Agency allies demonstrate with their Clean Power Plan. Yet another item absent from the President’s SOTU agenda was a transparent discussion about the costly consequences, like higher electricity rates and less reliable energy, associated with his dogged climate crusade.

Overall, the panel further shared its disappointment with the President as he opted for a defiant and uncooperative tone. A tone that made it clear he is not interested in working together with Republicans on the tough issues facing our nation.

Senator Tillis’ comments perfectly summarize the panel’s feelings, as well as the energy situation America is in: last year’s midterm elections revealed that citizens feel “a level of discomfort with the direction [the Administration has] taken this country.” The SOTU was President Obama’s opportunity to recognize the need to “find common ground with a majority of states.”

We can only hope the Administration will soon withdraw its unworkable, unachievable policies and find the much called-for common ground Americans deserve.

 


After Misguided State of the Union, Time for Congress to Act on Climate Regulations

President Obama delivered yet another disappointing State of the Union address last night. The president missed a momentous occasion to reverse his dangerous regulatory regime and restore balance and affordability to the nation’s energy mix.

It’s clear that the president is forging ahead with his climate regulations—even if it leaves America without the low-cost, reliable electricity from coal we need. But now, President Obama is facing a new and energized Congress that must rein in the Environmental Protection Agency and put an end to the Obama Administration’s overreaching regulations.

I recently penned a piece for Roll Call, charging Congress to take action against the Obama Administration’s costly climate crusade.

After last night, the need for Congressional leadership to stand firm against these regulations is more critical than ever.

This piece first ran in Roll Call.

Returning to regular order means reining in EPA

If there is one lasting change the 114th Congress should seek to make, it is the return to regular order. The Founding Fathers intentionally made it difficult for the federal government to enact laws but not impossible. The seeming impossibility of any meaningful congressional action has instead been wrought by closely divided congressional chambers, bitter partisanship and misapplication of Senate rules.

With Congress on the sidelines, the Obama administration has repeatedly overstepped its executive authority by enacting new rules and regulations without regard for the safeguards established more than 225 years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which is illegally using an obscure provision of the 1970 Clean Air Act to advance the president’s climate plan without congressional regard and despite sharp criticism from states, industries and constitutional scholars. Even Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a teacher and longtime supporter of President Barack Obama, noted in his comments of opposition to EPA that the agency “is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

Beyond its constitutional problems, the president’s plan will cause severe and long-lasting damage to the economy. In fact, according to a recent study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, the costs to comply with EPA’s proposal could total $366 billion, on the conservative end, and create double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. With such massive and far-reaching implications, shouldn’t Congress have a role in developing energy policy as it is charged with crafting?

Fortunately, the 114th Congress has the opportunity to restore the proper checks and balances to our system while reigning in EPA in the process. An important step came late last year when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will return to regular order and allow the Senate to debate and vote on amendments on the Senate floor. Former Majority Leader Harry Reid had been all too anxious to avoid debate or votes on the president’s climate plan.

In addition to the basics of debating and voting on amendments, Congress’ appropriations process provides another useful vehicle to push back against agencies running amok. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills for specific agencies rather than passing year-end, all-encompassing omnibus bills. Individual funding bills provide members of Congress, who were elected by the American people, a mechanism to ensure they have a voice in the policies being driven by political appointees.

Finally, members of Congress need to work closely not just with one another, but with their counterparts in their home states. While federal policies are enacted in D.C., state governments are often left with the job of implementing those policies or leading the charge against overturning them if they are not workable, which is certainly the case with the president’s climate plan.

When EPA solicited comments on the president’s plan, at least 27 states argued the agency was exceeding its legal authority with 26 states calling on EPA to withdraw the proposal. Through legal challenges and legislative action, state governments are preparing to preserve their authority and fight EPA. It goes without saying that federal legislators must be informed about what is happening in their own states to truly act in the best interests of their constituents.

As poll after polls shows, the American public is keenly aware of and dissatisfied with the status quo of never-ending, partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital. Regular order in Congress, and with the president’s power, is what’s called for in the weeks and months ahead. Only by returning to the model set out by our founding fathers can we hope to achieve normalcy in our legislative process and success for our country.

Let Congress make policy.

 


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.