Posts filed under In the States

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.

Final Rule Percentage Map_FINAL_08.28.15

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.


Guest Blog: Buckeyes Count on Coal

For more than 200 years, coal has powered the Buckeye state. With new proposed regulations seeking to change that, Ohio’s energy future, as well as the nation’s, could be in jeopardy.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio with the Ohio Coal Association.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio with the Ohio Coal Association.

The growth Ohio saw in the early 20th century and the rise of the world’s strongest middle class was no doubt powered, in part, by Ohio’s coal industry. During that time coal jobs were abundant, reaching nearly 50,000 in 1918, the highest in history. Coal also made Ohio an epicenter for manufacturing because of its ability to produce low-cost, reliable electricity. When talking about this state’s great history, you couldn’t possibly tell the full story without coal.

Tom Mackall (CEO, E. Fairfield Coal Company) shows a mining tool to Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson before a mine tour in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Tom Mackall (CEO, E. Fairfield Coal Company) shows a mining tool to Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson before a mine tour in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Current coal reserves in America have the ability to power Ohio and the rest of the country for more than 250 years. That is, if Washington D.C. would step out of the way. The Obama Administration and its unprecedentedly radical Environmental Protection Agency has continuously attacked Ohio’s coalfields with excessive and politically motivated regulations. The effects have been costly for Ohio’s families, who continue losing access to affordable and reliable electricity.

The most disturbing part, however, is that when EPA was taking “testimony” on its so-called “Clean Power Plan,” it stayed far away from Ohio and other coal-producing states. It’s easy to make these decisions when you don’t have to look into the eyes of the people you are harming the most.

When asked by Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson during a committee hearing if she could visit his coal-producing district in Southeast Ohio, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said she had a busy schedule, but that her office would look into it. So far, McCarthy has not landed her taxpayer-funded jet anywhere near coal country to hear how these regulations will affect Ohioans.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French tours B & N Coal Company in Noble County, Ohio.

Our vision statement at the Ohio Coal Association is simple:

“…We are committed to advancing the development and utilization of Ohio Coal as an abundant, affordable, and environmentally sound energy source.” 

Environmentalists cringe when reading that coal is environmentally sound because it goes against the misinformation they have propagated for years. The facts are the facts, and our coal companies have tremendous mitigation and reclamation records that have been recognized nationally.

Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce Participates in America’s Power’s "Thank a Miner" Campaign.

Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce Participates in America’s Power’s “Thank a Miner” Campaign.

Our members and association work tirelessly every day to tell coal’s story and to give a voice to those that some in D.C. have chosen to ignore. We teach at schools, community events and alongside our elected officials in both Columbus and Washington. Countless elected officials who have visited our member mines have all had the same reaction to the industry: respect and gratitude to our miners for the coal energy that they work to provide.

The current Administration does not share that reaction and the coal industry has faced incredibly tough times because of it. Regardless, our members have faith that a little bit of Buckeye common sense will prevail in the end. People often say, “Coal Keeps the Lights On.” Well here in Ohio, where we get nearly 70 percent of our electricity from coal, it isn’t just a catchy tag line, but the truth.

Christian R. Palich, President of the Ohio Coal Association


Senator Boxer’s Skewed Idea of the Truth – Sky-High Electricity Rates in California Make the Case for Coal

At a Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing this past March examining state viewpoints on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made quite the dubious claim about electricity bills in California and Oklahoma, stating:

“California households pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country….It may interest our Chairman to know that the Energy Information Administration found last month that California’s monthly residential electricity bill averaged $90.19 compared to Oklahoma’s monthly bill which averaged $110.47.”

This statement, however, boldly skews the truth and requires a closer look at the facts.

Californians actually pay much higher electricity rates than Oklahomans, and far higher than the national average. Data from EIA, the same source Senator Boxer cited in her remarks, confirms California residents paid 16.29 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity in 2014, 30 percent higher than the national average. Oklahoma residents, on the other hand, paid 9.96 cents per kWh, or 20 percent lower than the national average.

What Senator Boxer also fails to mention is the amount of electricity the average California household uses versus the average Oklahoma household. In California, average electricity use per household is 557 kWh per month – the 3rd lowest in the United States. Oklahoma, by contrast, uses 1,142 kWh per month – the 9th highest in the nation.

So while Californians pay much higher rates for electricity, families pay less for their monthly bill for one overarching fact the good Senator neglected to mention – electricity is so expensive few can afford it and, therefore, use it sparingly. With rates that high, can you really blame them?

Coal-based power is affordable and reliable. As Chairman Inhofe’s (R-OK) home state of Oklahoma shows us, states that use coal as their main source of electricity tend to have lower, more consistent electricity rates. Despite the rhetoric legislators may espouse in Senate hearings, coal continues to be the best answer for affordable power no matter where you live.

 


Threat of EPA Regulations a Rallying Cry for Prospective Candidates

This article by Raymond Starks originally appeared in InsideSources on April 9, 2015.

At an event Thursday at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, likely presidential contenders gathered to express their concerns with Environmental Protection Agency regulations they said were holding back America’s economy. Hosted by InsideSources and sponsored by America’s Power, the event introduced policy-minded voters to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, all Republicans. Likely presidential candidates from both parties were invited to the event.

Congressman David Young (R-IA) welcomed the three likely presidential candidates and called for an “all of the above approach” to energy policy. He took note of Iowa’s growth in wind and biofuel power, but he pointed out a majority of Iowa’s power still comes from coal, a top target of costly environmental regulations.

David Young

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Each of the candidates—Perry, Jindal, and Santorum—hails from a top five energy producing state, and all eschewed similar views concerned with overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency on businesses and consumers.

Remarks from each candidate focused attention on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that seeks to reduce CO2 emissions through heat rate improvements on coal plants, increased utilization of natural gas, an increase in renewables and nuclear energy, and increases in end-use efficiency. The EPA’s preferred implementation of the plan proposes a 30% reduction in CO2power plant emissions by 2030. As the United States produces 40% of its electricity from coal, the plan would have a significant impact on the American economy. It’s expected that 43 states would see double digit electricity rate increases, and costs for power plants and consumers would rise substantially.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry frequently touted his energy policy stances during his 2012 bid for the Republican nomination, and he continues to do so as he looks ahead to the 2016 race. In 2012, the now-former governor focused prominently on the idea of energy independence, believing the United States should produce and consume its own energy rather than relying on foreign countries. Perry believes that energy policy is directly related to national security saying, “We need to talk plainly about the stakes… Energy is a weapon in the hands of an aggressor. America needs to have the largest arsenal.”  Not only focusing on his accomplishments as Governor of Texas, Perry praised the progress made by both Pennsylvania and Louisiana. During his tenure as Governor of Texas, Perry expanded the state’s energy production from fossil fuels and renewable energy. The state now produces 29% of all United States natural gas and also leads the nation in the production of oil with a refinery capacity of 5.1 million barrels per day. The Lone Star State produces 34% of its energy from coal, and under the proposed EPA regulations, the state would face an average increase in energy prices of 10%.

Rick Perry

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

The longest serving governor in the state’s history, Perry’s tenure was also marked by a long period of job growth where the state created one third of the nation’s jobs, many coming from the energy industry. The former Texas Governor criticized the president for his energy policy while also focusing on the accomplishments of entrepreneurship and the economy of Texas, saying, “Today America leads the world in natural gas production… the energy rush has once again come to America and my home state is the epicenter of that.” Also during Perry’s tenure as Texas Governor, the state expanded its wind production, producing the largest amount of wind energy in the nation.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has also made energy a focus of his prospective 2016 Presidential campaign, previously writing for InsideSources on delivering affordable energy to American families and businesses. Jindal criticized the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would raise electricity prices an average of 16% over the period of 2020-2029. The EPA regulation, which he believes should be repealed, has a significant impact on the state that produces 21% of its electricity from coal. The state of Louisiana is the second largest refiner of crude oil only behind the neighboring state of Texas.

In his second term as Louisiana Governor, Jindal has been a forceful critic of President Obama, especially on energy issues. The Louisiana Governor focused much of his speech on highlighting what he views as federal overreach from the Obama administration saying “We are in the middle of an energy revolution that will restore our economy… Just the energy revolution alone can increase the median income by 7%.” Jindal has consistently criticized the President for his refusal to sign a bill allowing for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that was vetoed earlier this year. Jindal noted the significant energy reserves and technology advantages the United States has that he would seek to expand. “We have been blessed with an abundance of energy, not just recourses but technology here at home.” Jindal, like Perry, touted energy independence as a foreign policy objective.

Bobby Jindal

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the 2012 winner of the Iowa Republican Caucuses, appears on track to make energy a focus of a likely 2016 campaign just as he did in 2012. Santorum advocated his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard that is important to Iowa’s economy. Touting his heritage as the grandson of a coal miner, Santorum has frequently noted the importance of coal to his home state, as well as to Iowa and American energy production as a whole. After leaving the United States Senate, Santorum served as a consultant to an energy company. The former Senator told Iowans there is a “war on coal” in the United States waged by the EPA. Santorum focused his remarks on the price of energy and its effects on the working and middle class. “If you’re an average American…you spend 40% of your disposable income on energy… Let’s give small town America a chance.” His home state is the nation’s fourth largest coal producer that provides for 40% of all energy produced in the state, although it has become a large user and producer of natural gas. Nuclear power is also of unique importance as the resource provides 35% of the state’s power.

Rick Santorum

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Energy will be a 2016 issue that will allow candidates like Santorum, Jindal and Perry to display their breadth of knowledge and experience. The state of Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation caucus, would be required by EPA policy to cut its emissions by 16% relative to the 2012 rate. The state would also see an increase in the average energy price by 15%. The Hawkeye State relies upon coal for 59% of its electricity; however, it is one of the foremost wind energy producing states with 25% of all electricity being produced by wind turbines. Through an appeal to the pocketbooks of Iowans, these three candidates look to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.

 


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Missouri

Regulators, utility commissioners and energy experts are in St. Louis today, attending the third and final Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regional technical conference on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Once again, FERC will hear concerns about the effects EPA’s proposal will have on electric grid reliability.

St. Louis is an ideal location to end FERC’s review of the major impact EPA’s plan will have on our energy infrastructure. Missouri relies on coal for 83 percent of its electricity, which keeps electricity rates affordable at 11 percent below the national average. The state stands to be significantly affected by EPA’s plan and the threat it poses to America’s use of coal-based electricity.

Affordable and reliable power from coal allows Missouri’s manufacturers to employ nearly 258,400 residents – more than 9 percent of the state’s workforce. Beyond keeping electricity reasonably priced for homes and businesses, the coal industry itself provides more than 7,400 jobs to hard-working families.

These jobs and the state’s affordable energy are threatened by EPA’s plan, which requires Missouri to cut its carbon emissions by 21 percent. Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Robert Kenney calls this target a “virtual impossibility” as “about 80 percent of [the state’s] 21 percent reduction will be required by 2020.”

Missouri regulators like Chairman Kenney understand the energy needs of the Show-Me state far better than EPA. Join the fight to protect coal-based electricity in Missouri by signing up for America’s Power Army.


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Arizona

Coal is an important part of Arizona’s diverse energy portfolio, which relies on a variety of fuel sources to provide electricity to its more than 6.7 million residents. Despite being a leader in solar energy and home to our nation’s largest nuclear plant, Arizona still depends on coal as its primary source of affordable, reliable power.

In addition to providing nearly 40 percent of Arizona’s electricity, coal acts as a base-load fuel source when brutal summer heat hits. In fact, 25 percent of the energy consumed in Arizona homes is solely for air conditioning, more than four times the national average. By carefully planning what energy combination works best for Arizona, regulators ensure the state’s electric grids can meet demand, especially when temperatures soar well above 100 degrees.

CoalFuelsAmerica_Bill T_FINAL_03.17.15

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will make meeting this demand much harder for Arizona. The agency’s regulations require the state to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent – the second-highest target in the nation. To make such a drastic reduction, Arizona will be forced to effectively eliminate coal from its energy mix.

State leaders in Arizona are united in their opposition to EPA’s proposal, with everyone from the Governor to the Attorney General to the head of the public utilities commission speaking out against the plan. In a January panel on the Clean Power Plan, Henry Darwin, director of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality, noted that Arizona’s “120 degree summers” require the use of “every single resource in order to generate electricity.” By forcing coal-fired power plants offline, EPA’s plan takes direct aim at the state’s ability to provide reliable electricity during times of peak demand. Susan Bitter Smith, chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission, shared similar sentiments about the Clean Power Plan, recently telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “if we had to meet the EPA’s standards as they’re required right now … we couldn’t keep the lights on in the state.”

Learn how you can help protect affordable electricity in Arizona and in your state: sign up for America’s Power Army to receive alerts on activities and events throughout the year.   

 


What do Indiana, Wisconsin and Wyoming have in Common? They Oppose EPA’s Overreach

Officials from Indiana, Wisconsin and Wyoming are on Capitol Hill today to testify about the consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

While we don’t know what these officials will say, we know from previous comments that they are united in their opposition to the CPP and share many of the same concerns:

Last September, Tom Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, shared his concerns with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, saying “Hoosiers know that coal means jobs and coal means low-cost energy […] In examining how the proposed 111(d) regulations further our mission, I have come to the conclusion that the proposal will cause significant harm to Hoosiers and most residents of the U.S.”

Ellen Nowak, commissioner with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission says when it comes to EPA’s CPP – projected to cost the state of Wisconsin between $3 billion and $13 billion – she “wouldn’t put that in the ‘reasonable’ category.”

Todd Parfitt, director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said in the Department’s comments that “WDEQ’s review finds that the Proposed Rule is fundamentally flawed and should be withdrawn principally because EPA lacks statutory authority to proceed with this rulemaking.”

We’ll certainly hear more of these concerns today and in the coming weeks. When we do, it’s important to remember these three states have more in common than their participation in this morning’s hearing. Coal-based power supports job creation, economic growth and low-cost electricity in each of these states. EPA’s proposal seeks to diminish the use of affordable, reliable electricity from coal and place the costly consequences squarely on the shoulders of consumers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Wyoming and every other state in the nation.

 


West Virginia Law Will Give State More Control Over EPA Regulations

I applaud Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia for signing House Bill 2004 which requires that any Clean Power Plan state implementation plan be approved by the state’s legislature before it is submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.  This law will ensure West Virginia’s elected officials have a say in the regulations that ultimately impact their state’s families and businesses.

Governor Tomblin signed H.B. 2004 after it passed overwhelmingly through both chambers of the West Virginia State Legislature. Legislation like H.B. 2004, as well as similar actions by other state legislatures, underscores broad opposition across the country to EPA’s overzealous and illegal proposal.

By taking a commonsense approach to energy policy, these leaders are helping to secure America’s energy and economic future.