Posts filed under In the States

Continuing to Share Your Stories

Continuing with our Share Your Story initiative, I wanted to pull some more excerpts from what you all are sharing on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you! Please feel free to go to the Share Your Story page and submit a short story on what coal means to you. It may get featured on our page!

As you can see from the folks below, coal is more than just an energy source. It’s a way of life: a job, shelter, food on the table for your family. With these EPA regulations, coal communities are being threatened by regulatory overreach and will ultimately be devastated. Electricity bills for some have already doubled, coal-fired plants have already endured layoffs and small businesses have suffered. If you want to protect our most reliable and affordable energy source, go to www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org and sign our comment tool to tell the EPA that you oppose these regulations.

“I started working in a coal mine when I was 15– best job and people to work with. The only thing that will change from not using coal isn’t clean air– its loss of jobs, homes, and families moving to find jobs, it’s hard to pay for things where you live now and then where you move to also. Can’t [easily] be done and survive with a family.”

“I work at a coal fired power plant helping to keep the lights on for the folks who don’t like coal. Kind of ironic.”

“Both of my grandfathers were miners, my dad retired from the mines, and I retired from the mines after 40 years of service. Coal pays my retirement and now my son is a miner. Coal is not only a way of life for this family; it is the backbone of what made this country great. The war on coal is a war on the strength and liberty of this once great country.”

“I work in a coal fired power plant. For the 3rd time in three years, we are bracing for layoffs because we have to cut costs to remain profitable in Obama’s war on coal. I nearly lost my job in the last one (had to transfer to another plant 200 miles away), and it remains to be seen if I will survive this round. My wife and my three year old son depend on coal!”

“My wife’s father and three brothers were miners here in Southeast Kentucky! Now, because of EPA, our town is dying! Stores are closing. Restaurants are laying off because of so many miners are not able to spend like they did before! Mining was a good, honest living! It provided not only for the families of the workers, but for entire communities! Some former miners are finding new jobs, but they have to move away for them! It’s a shame that a bunch of tree huggers have to destroy an honest and traditional living for so many good Americans!”

“Other than the fact that it provides power, that I am noticing many take for granted. I don’t have a story but I do know if it weren’t for the miners and the power stations that use coal, we would be in the dark.”

 


Recapping Our Day in Pittsburgh Supporting Affordable Energy

Last week, I went to Pittsburgh to join my colleagues with the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, Ohio Coal Association and West Virginia Coal Association to host a rally for affordable energy the day before the EPA hearing session in Pittsburgh on July 31. Our Rally to Support American Energy gathered thousands of people across the spectrum and from all age groups whose lives, one way or another, are tied to coal-based industries or who benefit from low-cost coal-based electricity.

BLOG photo 1 BLOG photo 2

The EPA session in Pittsburgh was just one of four around the country meant to garner wide-spread public comment on EPA’s proposed regulations on existing power plants.  A problem with having only four hearing sessions is that some have to travel great distances to make remarks that may not be taken to heart. We are doubly appreciative, therefore, for those who took the time to not only speak directly with EPA despite the difficulties of doing so but also for stopping by the rally to show us their support.

The America’s Power team had a great day. Our display stood at the front of Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, and we had the America’s Power #7 Nationwide car outside of the stadium for all attendees to see. We got fabulous pictures with our hard working supporters and the West Virginia Coal Festival princesses with the car! I took the opportunity to walk down the lines of attendees while they were waiting to enter the stadium to shake a few hands while I passed out stickers. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to talk to some of them and hear their stories. Several people brought their spouses and their children to the event, and thanked us for our participation in the fight for affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.

BLOG photo 3 BLOG photo 4

Chris Higbee came to perform some country favorites, and we had a great group of speakers! Governor Corbett (PA), Governor Tomblin (WV) and Lt. Governor Taylor (OH) were our keynote speakers and boy, did they bring down the house! You could feel the energy as these legislators spoke from the heart and really brought the issue home. It was an added bonus that we were on the Monongahela River and had a couple supportive honks from the coal barges sailing by! Our team met so many new people, and gathered a ton of signatures for our EPA Comment Tool. Some supporters had met us at NASCAR races (we love seeing people wear our shirts!) and some were meeting us for the first time. It really is a joy to get out there and tell people how we are involved and why this fight is an extremely important one.

It was a beautiful day for us to get together in support of coal-based electricity – America’s Power!

 


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.