Posts filed under The Coal Wire

Congress Takes Up Battle Against Carbon Rule

Both chambers of Congress are working fervently this week to strike down the president’s power plan, which mandates draconian carbon emission reductions rates on new and existing power plants. Even though President Obama is bypassing Congress and attempting to force states to follow suit, elected officials are underscoring an inescapable fact: the power plan is opposed by the majority of members of the Senate and the House and faces significant legal obstacles.

Here’s a look at what some members of Congress who are fighting to overturn this rule – both Republican and Democrat –  are saying:

Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, is leading the charge against EPA’s illegal regulation and frequently describes the agency as the “rogue political arm of the White House.”

Whitfield goes on to say, “their broad assertion of regulatory authority in these rules goes far beyond what is authorized by the Clean Air Act. These resolutions serve to halt EPA’s unauthorized actions and ultimately are about protecting ratepayers across the country from increased electricity prices, reliability threats, and job [loss].”

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is also making sure the power plan doesn’t go unchallenged. She says the Senate’s resolution of disapproval is part of Congress’s “efforts to push back against EPA’s final rule for existing power plants — a rule that is totally unworkable as written for North Dakota’s utilities and regulators without causing severe reliability issues and massive rate increases.”

West Virginia Senator Shelly Moore Capito drives home the reality that the power plan will cause financial devastation for households across the nation, saying “our most vulnerable will bear the burden.”

Capito continues to explain that fighting the power plan is necessary because it unfairly “help[s] some states and really hurt[s] others…it target[s] states like West Virginia and North Dakota, where we produce some of the most affordable and reliable energy.”

The strong opposition demonstrated by a majority of Congressional members speaks volumes about the president’s deeply flawed regulations. The laudable actions of these elected officials will serve as a reminder that the policies of our nation should be crafted by those sent to Washington on behalf of the American people – not through executive fiat. Congress is indeed taking up the battle against President Obama’s illegal power plan and will continue to reassert its Constitutional authority as America’s lawmaking body.

Diverse Groups Urge Attorneys General to Fight Carbon Rule

Demand is growing for states to take up the fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s radical and unlawful carbon plan. The latest voices to call on state attorneys general to add their names to a lawsuit to stop the so-called Clean Power Plan from being implemented represent a diverse array of stakeholders including Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Independent Women’s Forum, the Hispanic Leadership Fund and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

This coalition sent a joint letter to state attorneys general across the nation asking them to not only join their 20 plus peers who are already taking legal action but also to take resistance a step further by refusing to begin implementation plans before all legal challenges are resolved.

The joint letter clearly lays out the numerous arguments against states falling into line with EPA’s mandate:

  • “States should not be forced to cede power over their own electrical systems to the federal government, especially when the carbon rule’s legality remains in question.”
  • “Legal scholars overwhelmingly agree that the carbon rule is not just void of statutory authority and illegal under the Clean Air Act, but that the rule is also in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
  • “Obama’s carbon rule amounts to a federal takeover of the electricity system and is a direct affront to state sovereignty, setting a dangerous precedent for state and federal relations going forward.”

The attorneys general already fighting the rule know two things. One, the rule is harmful to the citizens of their states; and, two, it violates the law. Those factors should be reason enough for every state’s attorney general to oppose the carbon regulation. The erosion of states’ rights is only further justification for them to take a stand against this egregious misuse of executive power. As the coalition letter says, “States should work to uphold their sovereignty and to protect the well being of their citizens and businesses from this onerous and unlawful regulation.”

Only by working together can states defeat the Obama Administration’s unlawful and costly takeover of the electricity system. The attorneys general who are undecided on this issue should heed our and the coalition’s call to action and join their colleagues in fighting for their states’ sovereignty and the well being of their citizens.

What Does Coal Mean To You?

Continuing with our Share Your Story initiative, I wanted to highlight some recent posts from our supporters on Facebook. We love learning about what coal means to you and your family. Your voice matters, so if you have a story to tell, send us a note or a short video. We look forward to hearing from you!


On why coal is important:

“My dad was a coal miner all of his adult life. We were raised on coal money plus our garden. We never had a lot, but we never went hungry.”

“Coal means my lights are on. Coal means my furnace can run. Coal means I can surf the web.”

“It supports our family. I’m very proud of my husband and brother who work very hard in the coal industry. I hope and pray that they’ll have those good jobs for a long time to come.”

“Cheap power= low power bills for me…. keep burning it….”

“Coal provides electricity for my home and provides jobs for countless people.”


On EPA regulations:

“And in my opinion, it keeps every other business open when the coal mines go down… other companies and all mom-and-pop shops will close. This is a fact. It won’t just affect the coal miners.”

“This affects far more than coal miners – it affects all the support companies, construction equipment, railroads, power plants and all of their support industries, and all of the users of electric power which includes every company and person in the USA .”


And my favorite, in response to our recent story encouraging supporters to visit us at Chicagoland Speedway:

“I can’t come, I’m busy running a coal fired power plant. Please everybody, support coal. It’s the hope of an affordable tomorrow!”


From Their Point of View

Most of the time, we receive a lot of spam in our general mailbox from solicitors. But every so often, we get a heartfelt email from a concerned citizen, showing support of our cause and for the coal industry. I wanted to share some excerpts with you to help those who may not be as aware how much these proposed EPA regulations will affect these communities.


“I sign and support coal jobs for many reasons. My husband was a coal miner for 22 years and my father-in-law was a miner for almost 40 years, and a lot of other people I know are miners. Another reason is to help the miners to fight Obama ending coal jobs…. The more we fight, the longer it takes for him to fulfill his agenda. I hate what Obama is doing to OUR country. I love my country and support the hard working people, coal jobs, and most of all Our Troops.”

“Coal mining is all we have to make a living and pay our bills– also food, everyone has to eat, what are we supposed to do? …[We] need coal for lights to stay on and keep warm in the winter. It will kill these states and everyone will be on welfare.”

“My husband and son, both work at a coal plant, along with a lot of good friends here in PA. Why does the government have to get involved and try and take these jobs away from the American people? Also, we have coal heat in our house and garage, which is much warmer than any other resource of heat! Coal has been around for a very long time, keep it that way!”


There are many more comments like those above from affected coal miners, truckers, family members and consumers who fear the skyrocketing electricity bills that are headed their way. To protect affordable electricity, use our comment tool before May 9 and send a comment to the EPA at:

Please continue sharing your stories with us! We enjoy hearing from you.

What They’re Saying: Reliability and Energy Prices

This week, we’ve seen a number of developments making energy news, and a major theme is emerging that’s shaping the conversation about the future of energy policy in the U.S.

The selection of a new chair for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, statements by energy industry experts and elected officials and an administration official telling Congress that new EPA regulations could raise electricity prices by as much as 80 percent have people talking about the reliability of our grid and energy costs.

It was announced yesterday that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been selected to chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Her selection is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, and her elevation to this position is good news for energy producers and consumers alike.

Senator Landrieu announced she will pursue an agenda that will be “inclusive, bipartisan and focused on the job creation that America needs and wants,.” She has a proven record of fighting back against EPA overreach in order to protect affordable reliable fossil fuels and works across the aisle, seeking commonsense solutions to use our most abundant resources, like coal, more efficiently and cleanly.

A leader like Senator Landrieu will be instrumental in shaping policies that keep energy prices affordable for our families and our businesses.

Unfortunately, Senator Landrieu’s commonsense approach isn’t the only thing shaping the future of energy policy.  The EPA and the Obama Administration are still pursuing new regulations that could cause an enormous price increase for energy consumers across the country.

Dr. Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the Department of Energy, told members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday that EPA’s plan to require Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology for all new coal plants could raise wholesale electricity costs by as much as 80 percent.

Dr. Friedmann’s statements confirm what we’ve long known to be true: CCS is still a developing technology.  It’s not yet a commercially viable option, and requiring new coal plants to install CCS will lead to higher energy prices for businesses and families.

As new regulations make it more costly to operate coal-fueled power plants, the continued retirement of these energy sources is likely to increase the probability of rising electricity prices and supply disruptions.

With the record low temperatures we experienced this January, we’ve seen an increased demand for energy.  What we learned last month is that without the power generated by coal, electric reliability is called into question. Additionally the price of other energy sources, like natural gas, can spike when people need it the most.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) highlighted the need to keep our energy mix diverse in response to this year’s extreme weather:

“Our reliance on installed, dispatchable power generation during extreme weather serves as a shining example of why diversity of baseload capacity is necessary to secure grid reliability. “

When we needed it the most, Americans turned to the power generated by coal to keep our lights on and our homes warm.  But with coal plants continuing to retire, what will happen when those units are no longer available?

In her comments on protecting the energy sources on which we rely, Sen. Murkowski expressed how tenuous our current policy direction is:

“What happens when that capacity is gone?  Maybe we won’t have cold periods like we’re seeing next year [and] we’ll be OK.  But what kind of policy is that?  A hope and a prayer, that’s not how we need to be operating here.”

We cannot afford this administration’s overreliance on a more narrow fuel source portfolio that excludes coal.

We can’t stand by as government agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) deals with the issue of reliability by allowing PJM to offer power prices that exceed the market cap of $1,000 per megawatt hour.

Actions like those undertaken by FERC set a dangerous precedent that places the burden of increased electricity costs on ratepayers, rather than prompting a critical examination of the energy and environmental policies coming from the White House.

Politically motivated agendas should not be undermining America’s access to affordable, reliable energy at the expense of family budgets and businesses’ bottom lines.




Democrats, Republicans Alike Concerned About EPA Regs

With the election season in full swing, it might seem that Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on anything.

But one thing Democrats and Republicans have united on is their concern about new and proposed EPA regulations like Utility MACT, which was finalized late last month. Back in November, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) warned that the EPA was rushing to promulgate regulations on power plants that could impact Nebraskans:

It’s not that the utilities, and hundreds of others nationwide, don’t want to comply with federal rules. They do. But they face major challenges in meeting deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…I’m fighting against EPA bureaucrats requiring that the upgrade be done so fast they’ll have little choice but to raise electricity rates through the roof for many Nebraskans.

Once the Utility MACT rule was finalized by the EPA, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), was frustrated that the rule could cause coal-fueled power plants in his state to shutter, potentially leading to higher electricity prices for his constituents:

It will drive up electricity rates for all consumers, and increase the cost of any products that depend on electricity – which is just about everything. More than sixty percent of Wisconsin’s electric power comes from coal-fired plants … The Utility MACT rule promulgated by the EPA today will put many coal-fired plants out of business.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed for Congress to act in a bipartisan fashion to prevent these EPA regulations from negatively impacting the economies of his and other states:

Every American should be concerned about their effect on energy prices, the reliability of our power supply, our coal mining industry and most importantly our families … I hope that Congress will address these regulations … to prevent the potential loss of a million jobs, increased utility rates, and more damage to our economy.

Whether working on Capitol Hill or campaigning back in their home districts and states, Democrats and Republicans alike have one message: it’s time to slow down these proposed EPA regulations on power plants.

The Coal Wire: New Innovations in Clean Energy Technology and Affordability

Engineers in the United States and around the world are pushing the envelope with huge innovations in clean coal technology. In addition to creating jobs, engineers are now achieving new benchmarks in research and development with the announcement from Southern Company that the world’s largest power plant CCS project is now fully operational:

Southern Company announced today that its 25-megawatt carbon capture and storage facility is operating and capturing carbon dioxide. Located at Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala., the CCS facility is the world’s largest for a coal-fired generating power plant. It will capture approximately 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually – or the equivalent of emissions from 25 MW – for permanent underground storage in a deep saline geologic formation.

Mitsubishi also announced that their contribution to this project will be the first time such technology been deployed in a coal power plant – and that their technology will be commercialized.  In addition to innovations that will help ensure America’s energy security while also reducing the environmental impact of power generation, clean coal technology is being developed to maintain coal as America’s most affordable source of energy. With this in mind, Alstom has predicted that the cost of carbon capture and storage will be competitive with renewable energy in less than four years:

Alstom SA, the world’s third-largest power-equipment maker, said the cost for carbon capture and storage will be competitive with renewable energy as a way of curbing climate-harming emissions by 2015… Governments around the world are seeking to cut emissions while securing energy supplies. Carbon capture technology is one way of preventing emissions blamed for climate change from being released into the atmosphere. More than half the world’s power will still be produced from fossil fuels in 2035, and CCS may account for as much as 20 percent of emissions reductions by 2050, Alstom said, citing International Energy Agency data.

Countries around the world recognize the value and security of using clean coal to generate power, and know the value of carbon capture and storage – which has created an innovation race. The United States is leading the pack, with both the Southern Plant mentioned above and the American Electric Power Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia, the first and second largest projects to date, respectively. But a team in Europe is working to create an inexpensive, innovative system as well:

Various experimental technologies have been developed for removing most or all of the CO2 from smokestack effluents, although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet. One technology that shows some promise, and that could perhaps be used in conjunction with other systems, is called Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). Norwegian research group SINTEF is now building a special new type of CLC system, for use in the DemoCLOCK pilot project, to be installed at Spain’s Elcogas Puertollano power plant.

You can learn more about the benefits and of clean coal, and join over 200,000 others who are dedicated to creating jobs and innovation by joining America’s Power Army and helping to spread the word: Clean coal technology will power America’s future.

The Coal Wire: Domestic and Global Developments in Carbon Capture and Storage

In its ongoing efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the coal-based electricity industry continues to work with government and academic partners to develop and deploy carbon capture technology and safe storage solutions.

Companies in Texas are working together now to develop CCS in the Lone Star State to be used in enhanced oil recovery:

Air Products has signed two agreements with Valero Energy Corporation and Denbury Onshore, LLC. The new alliances are expected to precipitate the firm’s carbon capture and sequestration project in Port Arthur, Texas. Thanks to these latest agreements, Air Products’ CO2 will be delivered via a pipeline owned by Denbury Green Pipeline. The pipeline stretches between Texas to Denbury Onshore and is expected to begin in late 2012. The sequestered carbon dioxide is to be put to use by Denbury Onshore in enhanced oil recovery.

President Obama’s administration has not only been supportive of investing in clean coal projects domestically, they are continually committed to working with other countries in developing and deploying technologies to keep coal as an important part of our energy portfolio. This is why the Obama administration recently agreed to move forward with its cooperative efforts with Poland on clean energy efforts including clean coal:

President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk welcomed new momentum in the two countries’ cooperation on energy and climate security, especially in view of Poland’s forthcoming European Union presidency.  They welcomed intensified cooperation between our governments and private sectors in the development of unconventional sources of energy, including shale gas, renewable energy sources like wind and biomass, clean coal technologies, and civil nuclear power capability in Poland.

As President Obama hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a state visit tomorrow, it’s important to note the advancements that Merkel’s country is making in CCS technologies. German researchers just completed a successful carbon storage project in Ketzin, a town near Berlin:

Vattenfall has started the injection of carbon dioxide into the Ketzin reservoir. For a period of about one month, around 2,000 tonnes of CO2 will be transported and stored 200 kilometres from the coal-fired CO2 capture pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe to Ketzin. The first successful injection from Schwarze Pumpe in the test storage site in Ketzin happened on May 4th. The R&D site in Ketzin is run by the German Research Centre for Geosciences, GFZ. Until then, only food-grade CO2 has been injected in Ketzin and this is the first time CO2 derived from the flue gases of a CCS plant has been injected.

The importance of keeping coal as part of our energy mix isn’t only a priority of the United States. Leaders in Australia recognize that advanced coal technologies can play a role in keeping coal as an important global source of energy while reducing its environmental impact:

The Otway CCS Project showed that the technology is viable. Almost 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was pumped into underground reservoirs made up of sandstone rock located beneath a dairy farm … Australian operations head Russell Caplan says there will be a place for large scale renewables, but CCS is the best transitional approach … “You have massively growing energy demand. You’ve got billions of people coming on to the earth who require energy. Without doubt coal is going to continue to be a major source of that energy so we need to utilise in a more environmentally friendly way.”

To see where there might be an advanced coal technology project near you, click here.