Posts filed under In the States

Trouble for the Tri-State: How Carbon Regs will Affect OH, PA, and WV

Next week, EPA is holding a hearing in Pittsburgh to discuss its most recent carbon regulation for existing power plants. We decided to write a post about three of the most affected places in the country—Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia—that will no doubt be well represented at the public hearing.

OHIO

In Ohio, coal is the dominant source of energy in the state’s portfolio (69 percent of electricity generation in 2013). Ohio also boasts among the highest coal employment numbers in the country, with more than 20,000 Ohioans employed in the state’s mines. This doesn’t even begin to count the thousands more who work outside the mines but whose jobs are tied to the power generation industry. But EPA is causing jobs to disappear, making paying any bills, let alone higher electricity bills, extraordinarily difficult. The Buckeyes enjoy an average electricity price that is lower than both the national and regional average, largely thanks to low-cost coal-based power.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s economy is built upon the energy industry. Energy supports thousands of jobs in the state and helps keep electricity prices low by enabling Pennsylvania to use a diverse portfolio of fuel sources. Coal accounts for 40 percent of the state’s generating capacity.  If they just look to their neighbors to the north and west—New York and New Jersey—Pennsylvanians can see that an energy policy relying on more expensive and volatile fuel sources will bring electricity prices that are  among the highest in the entire nation.

WEST VIRGINIA

We left the discussion of West Virginia for last because it may be the state most affected by EPA’s overreaching regulations. The state economy has suffered blow after blow from federal regulatory agencies bent on eliminating coal-based power from our energy mix. Jobs have left the state and have not been replaced. One positive element, however, is West Virginia’s low-cost electricity. This spring, electricity prices in West Virginia were 7.76 cents per kilowatt hour, which is significantly lower than both the regional and national average for electricity prices. Despite this fact, more than half the families in West Virginia spend over 20 percent of their after-tax incomes on power bills. The fact that the Mountaineers generate 95 percent of their electricity from coal and pay the lowest prices is no coincidence – it’s thanks to coal that prices are so low.

Although the current outlook is frightening, high costs can be avoided if all three states show a unified front to EPA and push back on these overreaching carbon regulations. A true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that continues using low-cost fuel sources like coal can provide the economic and energy security our states need. We’re looking forward to next week as an opportunity to provide needed feedback that will hopefully shape the final rule.


EPA is Visiting Georgia, a Leader in Fuel Diversity

In a state known for sweet peaches, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) newest carbon regulations for existing power plants will leave Georgia feeling the unfortunate effects of sour policy. With these carbon regulations, the EPA is imposing one of the strictest emissions rates on a state that should be used as an example of responsible energy policy.

Georgia has exemplified a diverse, all-of-the above energy portfolio by generating power from coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower and other renewables.  To provide reliable base load power, Georgia relies on coal for one-third of its electricity generation. The use of coal has helped the Peach State keep electricity rates affordable, allowing businesses to hire more Georgia residents and offer lower prices to consumers. If EPA’s overreaching carbon regulations go into effect, the security of Georgia’s energy and economic sectors will face tough times ahead.

Next week, EPA is offering Georgians the opportunity to weigh in on its proposed plan; a plan that will shape the future of power production in their state. EPA is visiting just three cities outside of Washington, D.C. to gather in-person feedback on these carbon regulations, and Georgia made it onto the list. There are many things EPA left out of its overreaching plan that I know they’ll hear about in Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For starters, EPA has given no consideration to the consumer cost of these regulations. Even with the affordable electricity rates coal affords Georgia, many citizens still struggle to pay their utility bills. Nearly 1.8 million low and middle-income families – over half of the state’s population – already spend 24 percent of their after-tax income on their power bills. EPA’s carbon regulations will force Georgia to reduce its reliance on affordable and reliable coal, which will only heighten the struggles these families face. President Obama himself admitted during the 2008 presidential campaign that the power plan he envisioned would cause electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket.” This is a cost vulnerable Georgia families should not, and frankly cannot, be forced to pay. By maintaining coal’s role as a vital element of their energy mix, these staggering costs can be avoided.

But families and households are not the only Georgians who depend on affordable electricity – businesses across the state need reliable, low-cost electricity to run their operations and balance their books. This spring, electricity prices for homes and businesses have been below the national average. As energy costs increase, businesses in Georgia will be forced to confront unreasonably high rates in lieu of growing and hiring workers. As if rising cost of living tied to energy costs wasn’t a burden enough, EPA’s regulations also have the potential to increase unemployment in the state. With the nation slowly gaining a sense of economic relief after the recent recession, it is astounding the Obama Administration is pushing policies that will wreak such economic havoc on the lives of Georgia families, as well as families across the country.

These negative consequences can be avoided through the continued use and development of abundant, affordable, and reliable coal. By maintaining its diverse energy portfolio, and playing an active role in setting the course for its future, Georgia can ensure that households and businesses have the affordable power needed for prosperity.

Just this year the state passed a resolution that asserts the importance of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy for Georgia, dictated by state lawmakers as opposed to federal bureaucrats. A diverse portfolio not only promotes economic stability, but it also protects the energy security of the Peach State. Like millions across the U.S., Georgia citizens rely on affordable power to light their path towards a successful future. It is crucial that coal remains in Georgia’s energy mix so that this future, fueled by affordable electricity, becomes a reality.

If you want to weigh in on this important policy decision, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today to file a comment with the EPA. Tell them these carbon regulations won’t work for Americans in Georgia and across the country.


Keeping Colorado Affordably Powered

In June, the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it’s proposed stringent carbon regulations on existing power plants — a clear attempt to eliminate coal-based power. Next week, EPA will kick off four separate two-day hearings in Atlanta, GA; Denver, CO; Pittsburgh, PA; and Washington, D.C. Here at America’s Power, we’re kicking off a three-part series highlighting the critical role affordable, reliable coal-based electricity plays in all of the places EPA will visit. And, we’re starting with Colorado which depends on coal-based power for local economic development, fuel diversity and low-cost power statewide.

As a top ten coal-producing state, Colorado’s energy reliability and economic vitality are threatened by EPA’s proposed rule. More than 2,500 workers staff Colorado’s 14 coal mines, and thousands of workers’ jobs are indirectly tied to mining and power generation. On top of that, coal is Colorado’s primary power  source and is necessary to keep electricity rates affordable so it can continue to fuel economic progress.

In 2013, 64 percent of Colorado’s electricity was generated by coal. Because coal makes up a majority of the state’s energy portfolio, Colorado has been able to keep electricity prices under 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which is below the national average for power prices. These affordable rates allow businesses to employ more Coloradoans, which in turn enables these employees to have an increased opportunity for income mobility.

Despite the economic opportunities affordable energy creates for the Centennial State, a tremendous number of citizens still struggle to pay their energy costs. Currently, almost 880,000 low- and middle-income Colorado residents allocate 17 percent of their after-tax income to power bills. With so many citizens already struggling, Colorado cannot allow these costs to increase. If the Obama Administration and EPA have their way with these regulations, skyrocketing power bills will be the unfortunate future that Colorado, and the rest of our nation, faces.

Colorado is a fantastic example of how an “all of the above” energy policy can work if the federal government stays out of state-level energy decisions. The state relies on a diverse portfolio of sources and fully embraces the abundant natural resources at Colorado’s disposal including coal which is a vital element of the fuel mix. That’s why so many affected parties will be testifying in front of EPA next week telling the agency that its carbon regulations for existing power plants won’t work for Colorado.

Rather than making everything from power bills to grocery bills more expensive, we should support innovation and prioritize maintaining a reliable and low-cost electricity portfolio. With so many citizens depending on the jobs and affordable energy coal provides, this fuel source is something the Centennial State cannot afford to lose. We’re looking forward to the hearing and hope EPA pays close attention to the important criticisms shared with regards to their overreaching carbon regulations.

If you want to contribute to the conversation by filing a comment with EPA, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today.


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 1

If you are a frequent reader of Behind the Plug, you have never seen my name before and may be wondering who I am. Well fellow energy enthusiasts, I am China Riddle, a native Eastern Kentuckian making her way as an intern in Washington, D.C. I am writing to you from my office at the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), where I have worked for one week. My status as an intern who is new to ACCCE may cause you to be skeptical about the credibility of this blog or my knowledge of energy. There is no need to fret, however, as I know first-hand of what I speak.

Before venturing to our nation’s capital, I grew up in a small town in the heart of coal country – Virgie, KY to be exact. My father worked as a miner for seventeen years – making me a true representation of the popular ‘coal miner’s daughter’ notion – and eventually became a chief electrician. When I was fourteen, my father’s unique set of skills in welding and electricity allowed him to open his own mining equipment refurbishing business called K&R Rebuild. While his business is doing well, the volatility of the coal industry has caused serious difficulty in the past few years – difficulties that almost closed us down, putting my family’s livelihood in peril.

Due to the administration’s actions concerning coal-fueled power plants, the despair my family experienced is increasingly being shared by the people of my region. When you shut down coal-fueled power plants, coal mines are also shut down, which in turn affects businesses like my father’s. As I take steps toward my dreams of attending graduate school and working in Washington, D.C., my heart is still tethered to my home. How can I allow myself to leave while my family, friends and neighbors are left to face the hardship EPA’s regulations will surely bring? The answer for me is working at ACCCE and advocating for America’s Power. It is here that I am able to chase my dreams, while still using my skills and passion to work on the most important issue that my native region is facing. Through my role at ACCCE, I can make my voice heard and ardently advocate against unrealistic policies that will leave entire coal producing regions throughout the U.S. in economic turmoil.

So, energy enthusiasts, you can expect to hear more from me over the next eight weeks. I will be updating you on my journey as I work with the staff here at ACCCE to advocate for coal, our most abundant, affordable and reliable source of electricity. Together we can contest these poorly made policies to keep electricity rates down and our lights on.

- China Riddle, Communications Intern


From Their Point of View, Vol. 2

In continuing with our shared stories series, please see below for some excerpts from concerned citizens voicing their fears on the proposed EPA regulations on America’s existing coal fleet scheduled to be announced on June 2nd. If overly stringent, as we suspect, these proposed regulations will force the retirement of hundreds of coal-fired plants as well as eliminate jobs and cause skyrocketing electricity prices for families and business throughout the country.

“People need to wake up. Sure the EPA and greens are griping about oil and gas, but not like they are coal… With the oil and gas companies pumping so much money into our government officials, the EPA , Sierra Club and the media, we hardly have a chance. A lot of the pollution we are blamed for belongs to someone else. Signed, A Proud 37 year Coal Miner “

“How about turning the tables and start investigating how these people live their lives… cars they drive, how they heat their homes, if they have cookout,  [have a] smart car… is it electric?????”

This was my personal favorite recently. I truly do wonder with all those that have a smart car who advocate against coal—when you plug your car in to the wall, what do you think is powering it??

And simply:

“We need to protect our coal industry….take a stand in helping our coal jobs for the good of this country and for the many jobs we need to protect….”

Rumor has it that the President himself will be delivering the rule on June 2nd. Here’s to hoping that in the end, those that are behind powering this great nation will be spared by these overreaching regulations.


Coal Doesn’t Only Fuel Electricity – Coal Fuels Jobs & Local Economies Across the U.S.

Based on what we’ve seen, it is clear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking to create a “one-size-fits-all” solution to greenhouse gas regulations. Last September, EPA proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that place a de facto ban on new coal-fueled power plants. EPA gave no flexibility to states on the rule, prompting a lawsuit from Nebraska and widespread ire from other coal-dependent states. Their outrage stems from the fact that the coal industry fuels thousands of jobs, our affordable electricity, and power plants that invest in their communities. Coal supports more than 800,000 jobs across the country, and the more than 500 power plants in the U.S. sustain communities wherever they are located.

Dozens of states across the U.S. use a large percentage of coal-based power to generate their electricity. In 2013, EIA reported that 31 states generated at least one quarter of their electricity from coal, and 17 of those states generated at least half of their electricity from coal—an increase over 2012. The states that rely on coal are not all from one area, either. The top 10 states for coal-based generation including West Virginia, Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio and New Mexico have diverse economies and are scattered across the U.S. One thing they all have in common is that their electricity rates run below the national average.

Mining, transportation, and power generation employ thousands of Americans. West Virginia employed more than 22,000 miners in 2012. While it may not be surprising that a state like West Virginia is home to many coal miners, what you might not know that mining employs more than 7,000 workers in Wyoming and more than 5,000 in Alabama. According to a recent study in Nebraska, coal power generation and transportation supported 22,844 jobs in the state.

States also offer us great examples of the newest power plant technologies that are lauded on the global stage. If NSPS is enacted, local communities will miss out on new, cutting-edge power plants and the economic growth spurred by their construction.

Arkansas’ John W. Turk Plant has been operating as one of the cleanest, most efficient coal-based power plants in the US. This 600 megawatt “ultra-supercritical” plant uses less coal and produces fewer emissions while still providing affordable base load power to the local grid.

In Mississippi, the Kemper County Energy Facility has brought economic development to the local community through jobs, commerce and tax revenue. When it is complete, this plant will be the cleanest coal-based power plant in America.

States across America are picking up on the fact that the national energy policy put forth by EPA has failed to take into account their specific circumstances. Unfortunately, innovative plants like Kemper County and Turk will be a thing of the past. Other communities will be unable to construct power plants that create job opportunities, economic growth and tax revenue. Jobs will be slashed and states with high levels of coal-generation will be vulnerable to high prices and less reliability.

To support the economic growth and job opportunities coal provides to local communities, visit www.EPARegsCostJobs.com today.


The People “Behind the Plug”

America’s coal industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States. If you were to trace your electricity all the way from your electrical socket back to the mines that extract the coal, you would encounter a diverse group of skilled workers and learn some interesting facts along the way.

For instance, in 2012, the average U.S. coal miner was 44 years old and earned more than $80,000 annually. This is far higher than the average annual wage across the country. Also of interest, coal miners receive specialized training that allows them to do their jobs well and to do them safely.

Coal is mined in 25 states and is responsible for more than 800,000 jobs right here at home. Around one-third of these jobs are directly tied to coal mining, while two-thirds represent indirect jobs. When a mine shuts down, it unleashes a domino effect of lost jobs, lost hours and lost wages for all those workers who support our electricity generation—from start to finish.

Kentucky alone saw a 40 percent drop in coal-based employment between July 2011 and July 2013. Additional jobs were lost in the second half of last year. Bill Bissett, Kentucky Coal Council president, recently told us that in Eastern Kentucky, seven thousand direct mining jobs have been lost. Yet, as staggering as this figure may sound, it fails to include the thousands of other jobs that are in jeopardy—not only indirectly tied to mine operation and power generation, but also from businesses that depend on affordable power from coal.

These skilled, well-paying, American jobs are vanishing before our eyes due to President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overzealous actions to regulate carbon emissions, irrespective of the real-world costs. .

A recent report by the Nebraska Public Power District concluded that coal transportation and power generation, contribute $1.4 billion in labor income and more than 22,800 jobs in Nebraska. It’s hard to fathom how President Obama and his EPA can claim that their rules won’t uproot American jobs or cause economic harm when we know firsthand that the opposite is true.

It is readily apparent that the EPA and environmental groups continuously ignore the collateral damage of their climate agenda. Help us protect American jobs, America’s economy and America’s energy future today by filing a comment with the EPA.


Real People, Real Stories

Communities across America – from New Hampshire to Arizona, Alaska to Florida – all depend on low-cost coal for electricity. Energy is not a regional issue, nor is it a partisan issue; it is everyone’s issue. American families and businesses alike depend on affordable electricity to power their daily lives.

Throughout the years, America’s Power has had the chance to meet real Americans in real communities across the country who have shared their stories with us. Sitting down at their kitchen tables, walking through their communities and visiting their businesses, we’ve witnessed firsthand how policy made in Washington, D.C. impacts these men and women. We’ve spoken with a wide array of stakeholders, including parents, small business owners, manufacturers, corporate leaders, community leaders, and more.

These are real people telling their personal stories. They aren’t glamorous or staged; they are honest and candid. As the fight to protect affordable energy from coal against onerous regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues, it seems President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy and others in the administration have no interest in hearing the perspectives of those they represent—and those who will bear the greatest burden of their policymaking.

Since Washington won’t visit these communities, we’re sharing their important stories in our “Real People, Real Stories” video series.

 

 

Stand with these Americans by voicing your opposition to EPA policies that jeopardize affordable, dependable electricity from coal.