Posts filed under Current Affairs

When EPA Can Pick and Choose, We All Lose

How many times have you watched a sporting event and been convinced the referees officiating the game made calls unfairly favoring one team over another? Just as referees are supposed to call games objectively and without bias, government should stay out of the business of picking winners and losers.

In its final carbon rule, however, the Environmental Protection Agency did just that when it imposed on 22 states more stringent emission reduction requirements than originally proposed.

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All of these states – except Rhode Island which has no coal-fired electricity generation – rely on coal to maintain affordable electricity prices. The collective average retail electricity price for the 21 coal-reliant “biggest loser” states was 12 percent below the national average in 2014. In contrast, Rhode Island’s electricity price was 49 percent above the national average.

EPA’s picking and choosing amounts to a big loss for consumers in all states forced to reduce CO2 emissions, but it hits the “biggest loser” states especially hard. Rising energy costs and declining family incomes are already straining the budgets of America’s lower- and middle-income families. Households with pre-tax annual incomes below $50,000, representing 48 percent of the nation’s households, already spend 17 percent of their after-tax income on energy costs. Many of these families are forced to make tough choices when their energy bill arrives each month. EPA’s carbon rule makes those decisions that much more difficult.

EPA’s pursuit of its illegal plan follows a dangerous trend of government agencies picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace. No matter where you live, this amounts to the makings of something much worse than just a bad call. When government is allowed to pick and choose, we all lose.


Growing Up With Coal: Hillary Clinton and Coal Country

President Obama’s tireless pursuit of his climate legacy is well-timed with the 2016 election cycle, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton and how she is addressing the impact Obama’s carbon regulations will have on coal communities.

During her 2008 run, Clinton proudly touted her loose ties to coal country, emphasizing America’s need for coal and the crucial role clean coal technology will play in our energy future. In the wake of the president’s final carbon plan, however, Clinton now speaks of coal in the “past tense.” Reporters say she is walking a fine line between supporting the interests of voters in coal-producing states and appeasing environmentalists and donors aligned with Obama’s plan.

As someone with strong ties to coal country, I’m not “ready” for Hillary’s pseudo-support of the region and the hard working Americans who live there.

When Clinton expressed her support of President Obama’s carbon regulations, she was no longer walking a fine line – in fact, she crossed it. By promising to defend and build upon the costly and illegal plan, Clinton will place the “everyday Americans” she purports to champion in the crosshairs, raising energy costs and destroying jobs for families in coal communities.

Clinton would do well to cease with her “past tense” rhetoric, as coal currently helps support 700,000 jobs and provides nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity. The coal industry is very much a part of America’s present and is key to meeting our growing energy needs in the future, but by supporting the president’s plan, Clinton is turning her back on all of those it employs. Like the President, it’s well past time she prioritizes the families she claims to fight for over the support of elitist environmentalist activists she seeks.


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.


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.


Coal Keeps America Thriving

Yesterday, the EPA held public hearings on its proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new coal and gas-fueled power plants.   EPA’s proposal sets an unattainable standard based on technology that hasn’t been proven on a full-scale power plant making it all but impossible to build any future, technologically advanced coal plants in the United States.

This isn’t the right path forward for American energy policy.

The right path forward includes all of our energy resources, especially our most affordable, reliable, domestic fuel source: coal.

The president says he supports an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy, but in reality his administration is pursuing an “all but one” energy agenda.

We know how important coal-based electricity is to millions of Americans.  Energy from coal helps keep our lights on, our homes warm and our electricity prices affordable.  That’s why yesterday, as the EPA held its hearing, we circled the nation’s capital with a message for the president:

We can’t change policy by ourselves, which is why we need your help.  We’ve launched a campaign to let the EPA know that they must protect American jobs and ensure we all have the affordable, reliable power we need to fuel our lives.

Sign our letter today and tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that you deserve affordable, reliable power.

 


Key Concerns About New Source Performance Standards

Today, the U.S. EPA held a public hearing on their proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new coal- and gas-fueled power plants.  This proposed rule sets unachievable limits based on yet-unproven carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technology for new coal power plants.   Requiring CCS makes new coal plants prohibitively expensive to build, regardless of how clean and efficient they are. Eliminating the option to build new coal plants discourages fuel diversity, which is important to protecting electricity consumers.

I outlined five key concerns of ACCCE to EPA today:

  • First, NSPS is inconsistent with EPA’s statutory authority which requires standards to be set based on technology that is “adequately demonstrated.”
  • Second, CCS is neither viable nor cost effective based on the criteria used by EPA.  In fact, significant financial, technological and regulatory barriers to CCS exist, and costs are exorbitant right now.
  • Third, EPA’s standard will stall CCS development in the United States because it will prohibit new coal power plants from being built.  New plants are essential to continued demonstration of CCS technology.
  • Fourth, EPA inappropriately relied on federally subsidized demonstration projects to set this standard.  None of these projects are yet operational in the United States.
  • Fifth, EPA failed to consider the significant challenges associated with long-term storage of CO2 which is hampered by geographical and geological constraints and are subject to regulatory uncertainty.

CCS is an important greenhouse gas mitigation technology.  Many stationary sources of CO2 emissions may consider CCS a primary option to significantly reduce emissions.  Although important, CCS is not yet available for new coal power plants in the United States, and can cost upwards of $1 billion extra for a typically-sized power plant.  ACCCE urges EPA to set an NSPS based on new, highly efficient coal power plants without CCS.  This will allow CCS to continue to develop and allow coal to continue to produce affordable and reliable electricity.

 


Perfectly Legal and Perfectly Dishonest.

This morning, I read an editorial in the Wheeling, WV Intelligencer that calls out the EPA for, yet again, shutting out the voices of coal supporters. In the piece, EPA’s ‘Listening Tour’ is Dishonest,” the editors conclude:

“Unfortunately, the EPA’s itinerary is perfectly legal.  It also is perfectly dishonest.”

You see, last year when the EPA announced their proposed New Source Performance Standards, which make it all but impossible to build new coal-fueled power plants here in the United States, they said they were going to listen to the concerns of the American people about their policies.

Sadly, that’s not what they did.

Instead of going to cities and regions where coal supports thousands of jobs and contributes billions to the economy – not to mention keeps the lights on – they showed up in Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Lenexa, and Washington, D.C.

The EPA chose to tip the scales in predominately non-coal areas to seemingly misrepresent America’s support of their proposal.

We can’t sit by and watch the administration attempt to ignore the voices of coal communities and coal states on regulations that will have enormous impacts on our families and businesses, and neither should you.

For the next few weeks, we’re asking all of our supporters to tell the EPA that they oppose these new regulations. The voices of the countless people excluded from the EPA’s sham listening tour must be heard.

In addition to our online letter desk tool, the video below will be playing tomorrow on a mobile billboard that will circle EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to let them know just how we feel about their dishonest listening efforts.

Take action today.  Go to EPARegsCostJobs.com and sign our letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  Every signature is important, so please share this tool with your family and your friends.


Missed Opportunity

Last night, as the President delivered his State of the Union address, he ignored an opportunity to be candid with the American people about the impacts of his Climate Action Plan.

The President decried income inequality while touting the progress of his climate change initiative – a plan that will place an outsized burden on lower and fixed-income families.

He called for more job creation, across the economy, including manufacturing but lauded his administration’s efforts to dismantle an industry that provides reliable, affordable energy to all kinds of job creators.

He once again proclaimed his desire for a cleaner energy future but continues to ignore the progress and investment the coal industry has made to reduce emissions and develop new technologies for better energy production.

In previous State of the Union addresses, the President has counted on clean coal as part of his energy agenda.  In 2009, he included clean coal as an essential part of making “clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.” In 2010 he promised continued investment in clean coal technologies after saying: “But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives.”

What’s strange is four years later, after counting on coal to help make State of the Union promises a reality; this administration is ready to leave coal out completely.

The President may have left coal out of his speech last night, but we hope he hasn’t forgotten the millions of Americans who rely on affordable, reliable coal.