Posts filed under In the States

Opposition to EPA’s Proposed Rule Piles Up… What is Your State Saying?

Concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations on existing power plants poured in ahead of the December 1 comment deadline. States from Alabama to Wyoming made their voices heard on the many concerns with EPA’s overreaching plan. In addition to higher electricity rates, weakened grid reliability and negligible environmental benefits, comments from state leaders emphasized the legal flaws associated with the plan and stressed the fact that EPA lacks the authority to do what it has proposed.

See what your state leaders have to say about EPA’s costly proposed regulations and learn more about the specific consequences your state could face.

Alabama

  • “If the United States is to offer a high-cost, low-impact, symbolic [carbon] reduction program to spark similar actions world-wide, Congress is the appropriate body to do so.” Submitted by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Alaska

  • “EPA does not possess the authority to promulgate this Proposed Rule under the Clean Air Act (CAA).” Submitted by the State of Alaska

Arkansas

  • “The Agencies urge changes in the Proposed Rule to avoid unreasonable and inequitable results that may include disruptions to electric service and significant cost impacts in Arkansas and in neighboring states.” Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Public Service Commission

Georgia

  • “The CPP has the potential to put Georgia at a competitive disadvantage relative to other southeastern states.” Submitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Idaho

  • “…Idaho believes that the EPA lacks the legal jurisdiction to regulate carbon emissions in the overly broad fashion it is proposing.” Submitted by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

Indiana

  • “The proposed rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed. They exceed the legal authority granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. They seek to fundamentally restructure how our electricity grid functions while making our electricity less reliable. They will contribute to higher electricity prices at a time when our economy can least afford it. They will drive investment to other countries instead of creating jobs here at home. In short, the proposed rules will hurt Indiana and the rest of the country.” Submitted by Governor Mike Pence

Kentucky

  • “It is a widely held belief that this rule could initiate unintended consequences and jeopardize price stability and power reliability.” Submitted by Governor Steve Beshear

Louisiana

  • “[The proposed rule] jeopardizes the reliability of the electrical grid, unfairly imposes vastly different requirements on states, overestimates purported health benefits, attempts to supplant the sovereign authority of Louisiana by establishing a de facto renewable portfolio standard, and contains numerous other deficiencies.” Submitted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

Mississippi

  • “EPA’s proposed final [emissions] goal for Mississippi… is overly aggressive and unachievable.” Submitted by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

Montana

  • “I feel strongly that this administration has not done enough to advance clean coal technologies… If this administration is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is time that it becomes equally serious about making investments in cleaner coal technology.” Submitted by Governor Steve Bullock

Nebraska

  • “EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan does not afford the flexibility for Nebraska to comply as advocated by EPA.” Submitted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Nevada

  • “The Clean Power Plan threatens the long-standing authority that states have over energy and resource planning.” Submitted by the State of Nevada.

North Carolina

  • “NCDENR believes EPA’s proposed rule … is legally and technically flawed… In defining a specific rate for each state and then mandating each state meet that predetermined rate, EPA runs counter to the U.S. Constitution.” Submitted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

North Dakota

  • “If finalized EPA’s Proposed Rule would substantially increase rates North Dakota consumers pay for their electricity, and could significantly impact the reliability of the electrical services they receive . . . the Commission believes that the Proposed Rule is flawed and should not be finalized.” Submitted by the North Dakota Public Service Commission

Ohio

  • “Some of the organizations that have actual responsibility for maintaining grid stability and reliability have warned of ‘cascading outages’ and ‘voltage collapse’ if this plan is implemented as proposed…” Submitted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

Oklahoma

  • “For numerous reasons, it is the position of the ODEQ that EPA’s Proposed Rule is fundamentally flawed and unworkable.” Submitted by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Pennsylvania

  • “Proposed state-specific emission reduction targets for affected [power plants] and the use of ‘outside-the-fence’ measures to establish and achieve the targets are a major concern.” Submitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Tennessee

  • EPA has set mandatory emissions reductions “with no analysis by EPA as to whether that actually makes sense or is economically reasonable for each state.” Submitted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

Texas

  • “EPA’s attempt to control the nation’s electricity markets through the adoption of Rule 111(d) is an unlawful intrusion into areas it has neither the authority nor the expertise to regulate.”  Submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Utah

  • “As you may know, coal is the dominant source of generating electricity in Utah… Any transition away from this historically low-cost electricity source will have economic repercussions not just for the communities of those employed in the industry but throughout the state in the form of higher electricity prices.” Submitted by Governor Gary R. Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox

West Virginia

  • “With the finesse of a bull in a china shop, EPA intends to assert itself broadly into new regulatory arenas that impact all areas of the nation’s economy.” Submitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Wisconsin

  • “[W]e are very concerned the costs of EPA’s proposal will threaten our most reliable energy source and damage our ability to provide affordable energy to our citizens and manufacturing-based economy.” Submitted by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Wyoming

  • “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.” Submitted by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Kentucky

Last month, America’s Power started a new state-focused series on Behind the Plug exploring the critical role coal-based electricity plays in communities across the country. After kicking things off in the Hoosier State of Indiana, we’re dedicating today’s post to Kentucky, a state whose economy and infrastructure are intimately related to coal.

Kentucky’s economy is a shining example of the success that comes from using affordable, reliable power from coal. Kentuckians receive 92 percent of their electricity supply from coal. So not only do consumers pay less to keep their lights on, but businesses of all sizes are also able to power their operations with electricity rates lower than the national average. From bourbon production to aluminum manufacturing, Kentucky’s key industries benefit from low-cost energy, and in turn create jobs and contribute to local and statewide economic growth.

As Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, noted, “We have one of the lowest [electricity rates per kilowatt] hours in the nation, which is why we have manufacturing, we have aluminum smelting, we have a lot of heavy industry that’s dependent on this electricity.”

The state’s coal industry also accounts for a sizeable share of overall employment, providing more than 86,000 direct and indirect jobs. Kentucky has a rich history of coal mining, supporting generations of families with good-paying, skilled jobs. Current regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, however, will leave Kentucky businesses and the coal industry, in particular, struggling to survive.

EPA’s proposed regulations on new and existing power plants will limit Kentucky’s fuel source portfolio, leading to less coal use and in turn, higher electricity costs. According to analysis released in October by NERA Economic Consulting, EPA’s proposed regulations could result in peak-year electricity rate increases of 17 percent throughout the state. In addition, national costs to comply with the proposed standards could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars.

Having already experienced the detrimental economic effects of other EPA regulations that target coal use, the state legislature unanimously passed a law earlier this year asserting the state’s authority to create common-sense standards that will put Kentucky’s interests first.

 


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Indiana

America’s Power has traveled the country visiting communities that rely on coal-based power. Today on Behind the Plug, we’re launching a state-focused series to highlight how important the coal industry is from coast to coast.

Indiana is a fitting place to start. In this Midwest state, coal fuels local economies, quality jobs and affordable energy for homes and businesses alike.

Hard-working Indiana coal miners have provided electricity to American consumers for decades. Today, direct and indirect employment tied to Indiana’s coal production industry accounts for nearly 29,000 jobs and 36.7 million short tons of coal. With 84 percent of Indiana’s electricity currently generated by coal, the state enjoys electricity rates that are 14 percent lower than the national average.

This low-cost electricity allows business sectors like manufacturing to grow and thrive. Indiana is among the nation’s top manufacturing centers, with a higher percentage of workers employed in the sector than any other state. In fact, manufacturing employs more than 490,000 Hoosiers and generates $84.2 billion in economic output.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations for Indiana’s power plants stand to jeopardize the state’s hard-fought economic growth and progress. Recent analysis by NERA Economic Consulting reveals that EPA’s carbon regulations will result in sustained negative economic consequences for the entire state. By forcing Indiana to cut one-fifth of its carbon emissions under an unreasonable timeline, EPA’s proposal will fundamentally alter the way the state produces electricity, threatening job losses across industries and causing peak-year electricity rate increases of 15 percent.

The impacts stemming from EPA’s plan will spell disaster for Indiana’s workforce and local economy. Stand up for Indiana’s future and visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org before December 1 to file a comment with EPA.

 


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.

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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.

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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.