Posts filed under Energy Issues

Senators Make Their Stance Clear on EPA’s Overreaching, Costly Carbon Plan

Republican Senators didn’t mince words when debating the legality, impact and insignificant environment benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon rule during Tuesday’s Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “Economy –wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda” hearing.

EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma pressed the acting administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Quality Janet McCabe to justify why the agency and the Obama Administration are imposing such a costly rule on Americans when negligible environmental benefits are expected.

“These regulatory actions are based on dubious science and are the culmination of improper collusion with extremist environmental groups and their sue-and-settle tactics,” Chairman Inhofe said in his opening statement.

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan cut to the chase and called out EPA’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law during the hearing.

“Does it disturb you that 32 states are opposing the Clean Power Plan and 16 have already have requested a regulatory stay?” the senator asked of EPA’s Janet McCabe. “When states sue you that’s a pretty good indication they don’t like the rule,” he said.

Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia – both from states that will be severely impacted by the plan – warned this federal overreach will have serious consequences on our country’s taxpayers.

Energy costs in Capito’s state alone are predicted to increase between 17 and 22 percent.

“This is going to have a cost to them, a human cost,” Senator Capito said.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso drove home the fact that EPA’s myopic plan has very few environmental benefits.  “You can only reduce the dust once and accrue the health benefits once. Not over and over to justify different rules,” he said.

Tuesday’s hearing was a step forward in holding the Obama Administration accountable for their legally flawed attempt to usurp control of energy distribution and raise electricity prices nationwide. We thank these right-minded Senators and look forward to future congressional and judicial action that will invalidate this overreaching, expensive plan.

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.”


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.

Advocating for America’s Power: Week 3

I am back again, energy enthusiasts, and as promised have brought more information. I took a look last week at international reactions to EPA’s new carbon regulations, with a specific focus on Canada and Australia. This week my fellow intern, Joe Singh, and I analyze another area of the globe. Joe has a background in economic policy analysis and is helping ACCCE research the global coal market. As I mentioned last week, EPA’s costly new plan would have virtually no effect on climate change, with less than 1 percent in carbon reductions. The Obama Administration understands this, but believes that if they lead by example carbon-emitting nations like China and India will follow. In his research, Joe points out that assuming these nations will follow our lead is contrary to the growing coal consumption in both these nations.

China, the world’s largest coal consumer with one of the fastest growing economies, has said it will set emission limits. Make no mistake, however, China is not exactly following the administration’s approach. The EPA set state by state targets that would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric sector by 30 percent by 2030. China, on the other hand, has instead adopted an emissions intensity target. This emissions intensity target would limit the amount of COemitted for every dollar of economic activity in China, on average. The reason for using emissions intensity rather than absolute emissions is to allow economic growth, which China wishes to maintain. In Joe’s research, he cites an Australian National University report which found that if China maintains its economic growth, even with a significant emissions intensity target in place, COemissions will still grow. Put simply, even if China can meet the targets it sets, its continued economic growth will still result in increased COemissions – not less.

The results of future international negotiations on climate change are uncertain. One can look to the past, however, to provide clues for potential future actions.  In two recent international climate negotiations, agreements could not be reached because of defiance conflict between the developing and developed world. The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, because it exempted developing nations, like China, from reducing their emissions.  Chinese officials claimed that it was “unfair to expect impoverished people in…developing countries to cut back on energy consumption, which is not even sufficient to meet their basic living conditions.”  China’s resistance to a binding agreement arose again during the Copenhagen conference, which occurred during Obama’s first term in 2009.  In a study available on EPA’s website, Western officials blamed the failure of this conference on China’s opposition to binding global emissions reductions.  This opposition was traced once again to China’s view that emissions reductions are robbing developing nations of their right to industrialize. Considering this climate impasse happened only five years ago, it’s unclear if Chinese willingness to reach a binding agreement has changed.  All of this makes me wonder whether the administration’s plan to reduce COemissions will be enough to overcome a history of failed climate negotiations with China.

Experts Question Fuzzy Science of the Social Cost of Carbon

The United States has long depended and benefitted from affordable, reliable coal-fueled electricity. Yet, the Obama administration and its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to pursue overbearing regulations that dramatically limit the use of coal in our energy portfolio, leaving the U.S. at risk of exorbitant electricity prices and an unreliable power. One of the tools being used to justify these overly burdensome regulations is the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), a measure that purportedly calculates the benefits of reducing carbon emissions.

Yesterday marked the deadline to submit public comments on the administration’s SCC calculation, and experts took to Capitol Hill to discuss the issue at a panel event hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute.

Dr. Roger Bezdek, president of Management Information Services, highlighted research from his report, “The Social Cost of Carbon? No, the Social Benefits of Carbon,” that demonstrates the invaluable role fossil fuels have played in modernizing our society both at home and abroad:

“Fossil fuels will continue to provide economic benefits both in the U.S. and globally. We shouldn’t penalize the industry based on faulty science like that of SCC.”

Other experts also praised the benefits of fossil fuels and underscored the problematic nature of the SCC tool, which seems to be yet another arrow in the administration’s climate change quiver.

Dr. David Kreutzer, research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation, highlighted the unreliability of SCC, noting:

“The EPA pretends not to see the damage that will result from the SCC model. There is no viable reason to use it.”

Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center of the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, called for better research and analysis:

“The SCC is no longer scientifically defensible. We need to base policy proposals on defensible science.”

Masked behind claims of reliable data, SCC is seen by many for what it really is: yet another effort by the administration to remove resources like coal from America’s energy portfolio. President Obama and his EPA should stop creating arbitrary distractions like SCC and live up to their pledge of an “all of the above” energy approach that would ensure low-cost, abundant resources like coal continue to provide affordable, reliable power to American homes and businesse

Another Polar Vortex Highlights the Problems with Over-Reliance on Natural Gas

Milder spring temperatures may be on the horizon, but not before another cold snap sweeps the nation. This winter, we’ve seen what can happen when a polar vortex strikes: consumers are asked to cut back on electricity, our power grids are stretched to the limit and natural gas prices skyrocket. Extreme temperatures have highlighted the problems associated with an over-reliance on any one fuel source, like natural gas, for baseload electricity.

Underscoring these problems, the Washington Post reported this morning that homeowners can expect to see particularly steep natural gas bills this winter. The article reports that a typical gas consumer may see a bill of $388, a 17 percent rate increase from just a year ago.

Despite these recent, real-world examples, the president and his EPA remain unfazed and are proceeding as planned to all but ensure that America doesn’t have the affordable, reliable energy it needs to keep the lights on and businesses running.  Of course, American consumers will ultimately foot the bill for the president’s politically driven—and very costly—energy policy. And, based on recent data, we now know that low- and middle-income families are most vulnerable to increased energy costs, which often force them to choose between keeping their heat on and putting food on their tables.

The simple fact is that coal remains the most reliable, affordable energy source in America. Coal can be stored on-site and held in reserve, unlike natural gas, which is a “just-in-time” fuel that is piped in when needed and is susceptible to roller coaster prices. Using less coal, and instead relying too heavily on resources like natural gas, solar, wind and renewables, could undermine the reliability of our electric grid and threaten volatile price swings and overall higher bills for ratepayers.

It’s encouraging to see that our elected officials on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country are recognizing the dire consequences of this administration’s rulemaking—and taking action to stop it. The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing this Thursday, February 27, to discuss American energy successes, as well as electric reliability and grid issues. The hearing is very timely, since temperatures across the country are expected to drop later this week—reinforcing the sobering lessons from this winter’s cold snap.

We’ll be live tweeting from the hearing, so be sure to tune in on Twitter for updates throughout the morning. And while you’re at it, sign our petition and tell EPA that coal must continue to be a part of America’s energy future.


Secretary Moniz Lays Out “All-but-One” Energy Strategy

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz asserted his commitment to an all-of-the-above energy philosophy. “’All-of-the-above’ is working,” Moniz said. “’All-of-the-above’ is not a slogan, it is a policy and a pathway.” In fact, he repeated this commitment on behalf of DOE and the Obama administration repeatedly throughout the lunch discussion. Moniz walked through successes and challenges involved with every major fuel source in America with one glaring exception: he made no mention of coal, our nation’s most abundant and reliable resource.

Moniz’ speech made it clear that the administration is, indeed, espousing an “all-but-one” philosophy when it comes to energy in practice. Coal was left out of the discussion entirely, even though it is a critical energy source that provides the largest percentage of base load power to America’s electricity grid.

Moniz touted domestic energy production as a recent success for the economy and the energy industry. He was correct when he said this is an exciting time for American energy production, if you consider the great potential we have to fully utilize every one of this nation’s resources. But this can only happen with supportive regulation. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is pursuing unworkable regulations that are jeopardizing our nation’s energy future instead of capitalizing on our abundance. With irrational regulation, we lose all potential for a true “all-of-the-above” strategy that secures our energy portfolio and creates a reliable electricity grid.

Coal is America’s most abundant energy resource. We know how to produce, transmit, store, and utilize it, and we know it well. We can do so affordably and reliably. But Moniz’ omission of coal in his outline of America’s energy industry demonstrates how the Obama administration is turning their back on coal-fired power. Perhaps the most frustrating element of this policy is that it also means turning their back on the hard-working coal miners, power plant workers, and thousands of Americans whose livelihoods and incomes are directly and indirectly tied to the coal industry. If Secretary Moniz and the Obama administration truly agree that an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy is best for our country, they should not forget that coal is a fundamental piece of this portfolio.