The Morning Consult: EPA & NRDC Resorting to Smoke and Mirrors Antics

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:56 pm, June 02, 2015

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on May 28, 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations have been at the center of widespread opposition since their release last year. Even in the face of criticism from elected officials, energy experts, regulators and scores of concerned citizens, the Obama Administration has vowed to ensure its environmental agenda is implemented at any cost. As a result, EPA is now scrambling to build public support before the rule is finalized this summer, calling on friends and allies to come to its aid – and, according to a recent New York Times article, using social media campaigns to build perceived support for its plans.

In coordination with the EPA, environmental groups have been staunch and vocal defenders of its proposal. Some have even argued the measure doesn’t go far enough, demonstrating the alarming degree of radicalism within the ranks of the environmental elite.

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently attempted to broaden support by releasing a study with questionable claims that casts EPA’s plan in an emphatically positive light.  This comes as no surprise considering NRDC has an intimate connection to EPA’s carbon regulations and maintains a cozy relationship with the agency.

One of the report’s most egregious and tiresome points is that EPA’s proposal will lower electricity bills for U.S. consumers. Even EPA admits electricity prices will increase under its rule, a fact that is further validated by research from NERA Economic Consulting. NERA’s analysis found that 43 states will experience double-digit electricity price increases under EPA’s plan, with 14 states facing peak-year price increases of 20 percent or more. To reduce electricity bills and energy use, consumers will have to spend upwards of $560 billion. So people will have to pay more to use less energy.

Like many environmental groups, NRDC claims to be a champion of the disenfranchised. But we know that low-income Americans will face a disproportionate burden of electricity cost increases under EPA’s proposal. By ignoring these truths and claiming in its report that landlords will help the poor, they do serious injustice to 23 million low-income families in 31 states who bring home less than $1,300 after-tax a month and already spend 22 percent on energy costs they can barely afford.

It is the very underserved people NRDC claims to be helping — impoverished families, children, the elderly and other vulnerable constituencies — who will suffer the most as a result of EPA policy.

Another claim made in NRDC’s report is that EPA’s carbon regulations will help prevent health problems caused by air pollution, especially in low-income communities. These claims are patently false and have been debunked repeatedly, as carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with pollution or public health. EPA already stringently regulates the environmental causes of these ailments, ozone and particulate matter, which NRDC erroneously commingled in its discussion of public health.

The erroneous claims in the report keep piling up as NRDC goes onto suggest EPA’s plan won’t harm electric reliability. They argue renewable resources will supplant low-cost, dependable fossil fuels under the plan that will actually result in “a better electricity grid with reliability that is second to none.” This is laughable as leading utility experts and grid operators across the country have invalidated this claim repeatedly, as low-cost, reliable fuel sources like coal are absolutely indispensable to generating electricity.

The report likewise fails to pass the sniff test in its assertion that EPA regulations are not to blame for coal plant retirements. Of the 72,000 MW of coal plant retirements and announced retirements since 2010, EPA policies have been the primary factor cited for 61,000 MW, or 85 percent, of this capacity. This is equal to almost the entire generating capacity of Ohio. Even EPA’s own analysis attributes 49,000 MW of these retirements to its carbon regulations—nearly twice the entire electricity supply of Virginia. Without fossil fuels, America’s grid will be pushed to the edge, leaving families and businesses susceptible to blackouts, brownouts and rationing.

Finally, NRDC is in the dark about the proposal’s effect on climate change, arguing that the shift to clean energy will “prevent the worst impacts of climate change.” It appears, contrary to their fear-inducing talking points, EPA and its allies are well aware the agency’s proposal is only being pursued under the guise of climate change. In fact, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy even admitted before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “The great thing about this [EPA Power Plan] proposal is that it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control.” Research confirmed this and proved EPA’s carbon regulations will have no meaningful effect on climate change at all, reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration by less than one-half of a percent, lowering global average temperature by 2/100th of a degree and reducing sea level rise by 1/100th of an inch—equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper.

EPA’s last-ditch effort to muster support for its proposed carbon regulations has only illuminated how problematic and costly the plan really is, as evidenced by NRDC’s flawed report. Unfortunately, EPA and its allies have chosen to ignore reality and, in turn, ignore the investments being made by the coal industry to reduce emissions and foster clean energy innovation. As this administration forges ahead with its dangerous agenda, it is ultimately American consumers who will pay the price if EPA’s carbon regulations are left unchecked.

 


EPA’s Bad Deal for America

Posted by Emma Battle at 4:28 pm, May 28, 2015

Last week, a new study by the federal government’s own independent Energy Information Administration (EIA) concluded what industry and analysts have been saying about EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan: electricity prices and bills will increase under the plan.  EIA finds, contrary to EPA’s assertions, the proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants will cause both electricity prices – and how much you pay each month for electricity (your total bill) – to increase, starting in 2020, and continuing through 2040.  Other studies corroborate this finding. In fact, a study by NERA Economic Consulting found that, on average, electricity prices will be higher by 10 percent or more each year in 43 states.

In addition, EIA says the plan will cost jobs.  That’s right, the federal government says EPA’s plan will cause people to lose their jobs.  EIA projects that over the years 2020 through 2029 there will be 2.9 million fewer American jobs due to the plan.

While EIA didn’t study the electric reliability threats that could result from EPA’s plan, other groups like the North American Electric Reliability Corporation which is charged with ensuring grid reliability, have expressed serious concerns that the reliability of America’s electric power system is in jeopardy if the plan is implemented.  Another similar regional group, the Southwest Power Pool, has gone so far as to state that EPA’s proposal could result in “cascading outages and voltage collapse.”

Other independent studies point out the cumulative costs and other impacts of the flawed proposal.  NERA concluded the plan would cost a total of $366 billion to $479 billion over 15 years.  Additionally, NERA says the proposal will cause consumers to spend $560 billion on measures like double-pane windows and new air conditioning systems to use less electricity.   Another study shows that 59 million American households must make do on an average take-home pay of less than $1,900 per month, and that increased energy costs – like those resulting from the plan – hurt these lower- and middle-income households.

So this plan must be good for the environment, right?   Especially if we are being asked to pay higher prices for less reliable electricity?  The sad truth is no. Even if you believe EPA’s and the U.N.’s climate models, the plan will have virtually no effect on climate change.  In fact, under the plan global average temperature will be reduced by less than 0.02 degree Fahrenheit and global sea level rise will be reduced by less than the thickness of three sheets of paper.

All in all, the EIA analysis and other studies show EPA’s proposed plan is a bad deal for America that only gets worse as more is learned.


Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Small Businesses and Affordable Electricity

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 1:42 pm, May 27, 2015

As the co-owner of a small business, I know firsthand the wonderful and important role small businesses play in communities across our nation. Small businesses drive our local economies, fuel innovation and provide opportunities where they may otherwise not exist, creating two out of three new jobs in the U.S. every year.

The economic health of our communities depends on the success of our small businesses. We have seen that here in Mooresville, N.C., where JR Motorsports has proudly called our home for years. In order for a small business to succeed, it’s important they be allowed to flourish, not held back by rising costs. When the costs of doing business increase, small business owners are forced to make sacrifices to keep their operations afloat.

Electricity is one of the most critical components of a modern business, powering everything from a garage full of machinery to the heat and air conditioning that keep us warm in the winters and cool in the summers. Small business owners rely on low-cost, predictable electricity rates to balance budgets and invest in future growth.

The team at JR Motorsports knows that rising electricity rates affect our bottom line. The last thing my brother Dale Jr. and I want to worry about is choosing between hiring a new team member and keeping the lights on. We’re glad that North Carolina’s electricity rates are nearly 11 percent lower than the national average, due in part to our state’s use of coal.

I’m grateful for an abundant energy resource that can reliably power not just my business, but small businesses across the U.S. I’ll be back with a guest blog post in June, but until then be sure to learn more about affordable, reliable coal-based power, and keep watching the JR Motorsports team each race weekend.


Growing Up With Coal

Posted by China Riddle at 3:07 pm, May 21, 2015

Supporters of America’s Power know we regularly ask them to share their story and explain the importance of coal to their communities and families. Reading their stories is the best aspect of my work, because I completely understand what our supporters mean when they say coal lights up their lives. As a native of coal country, I know their explanation is both literal and figurative, because coal did the exact same thing for me. Just like our followers shared their story with America’s Power, I want to share my story with all of you.

I say coal literally and figuratively lights up lives because for me, and countless others, it’s true. Coal literally kept the lights on when I was growing up in Kentucky, as it provides 92 percent of the state’s electricity. Figuratively, however, coal lights up my life because it gave me a better life.

Thanks to coal, my father had steady employment since the age of 19 and worked his way up to chief electrician of the mine where he was employed. The nights were long and the job was tough, but Dad always looked the same when he walked through our door – work-worn boots, mining light on his helmet, a check in his hand and a smile on his face. He’d hand the check to my mother and we knew all of our family’s needs would be met.

The skills my father developed as a miner helped him become a small business owner in 2007, and he and his partner John have seen great success as contractors for the refurbishment of mining equipment. My father is no longer a coal miner, yet coal still provides absolutely everything for my family. Our family story is a testament to the economic opportunity created by jobs both directly and indirectly related to coal mining. As the Obama Administration and its environmentalist allies place a target on the back of this industry – and consequently on the backs of hard-working Americans like my father – I feel even more compelled to share my story.

Be on the lookout for my personal blog series, “Growing Up With Coal,” where I will regularly share tidbits of my life as a coal miner’s daughter and weigh-in on environmental regulations from the perspective of someone who understands that for many coal isn’t just fuel, but a way of life.


Guest Blog: Buckeyes Count on Coal

Posted by Christian R. Palich at 5:26 pm, May 19, 2015
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


Senior Citizens: Helped by Affordable Electricity, Hurt by EPA Regulations

Posted by China Riddle at 11:06 am, May 14, 2015

May is National Older Americans Month, a special time to recognize our nation’s senior citizens. An essential component of honoring our seniors is helping to keep their living costs low, especially because 70 percent of older Americans survive on a fixed income. Affordable energy provided by coal plays a vital role in this process.

Low and stable electricity rates help seniors afford necessities beyond energy, like groceries and health care. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations will make living on a fixed income significantly harder for older Americans.

NERA Economic Consulting estimates EPA’s plan will cause double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states, an increase seniors’ fixed budgets have little room to absorb. Escalating costs could force seniors to forgo meals and doctor visits just to afford electricity – a devastating consequence that could seriously impact their health.

Jim Martin, chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association, recently explained seniors are already having to make tough choices thanks to rising energy costs, but EPA’s plan “will make choices like these all too common, and will push too many of our seniors…across the line from struggling to impoverished.”

To the 60 Plus Association and millions of older Americans, EPA has neglected the effects their rules will have on one of our most treasured generations. Our seniors deserve energy policies that protect their lifelong savings and allow their golden years to be worry-free, not extreme regulations that cause them undue financial burdens.  

 


Small Businesses Run on Coal-Based Electricity

Posted by Julia Treanor at 9:42 am, May 13, 2015

Although last week was National Small Business Week, many Americans recognize the importance of small businesses in their communities year-round. Small businesses are crucial for economic growth as they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. In fact, the most recent government data reveal small businesses make up 99.7 percent of American businesses, with more than half of Americans either owning or working in these settings. To successfully operate each day, it’s vital these businesses can afford all of their necessities, often beginning with electricity.

Reasonable and steady electricity rates ensure businesses owners have the funds to hire new employees and invest in growth opportunities. As coal is America’s most abundant and affordable fuel source, it plays an important role in keeping energy costs low.

Throughout the years, America’s Power has travelled the nation to meet with small business owners and learn about how they rely on coal-based electricity. From a packaging company in Ohio, to an online specialty food shop based in Nebraska, affordable energy helps small businesses survive and thrive in local, national and even global markets. As Olivia Albright from Ohio said, low-cost electricity ensures she can create jobs, not take them away by having to choose between energy bills and payroll.

For decades, America’s business owners have enjoyed the competitive advantage of affordable electricity, an advantage that has also helped our country become the market leader it is today. By continuing to support affordable power from coal, America is supporting the spirit of small business.

To learn more about coal’s impact on businesses and the U.S. economy, check out CoalFacts.org.

 


Courts must step in and stop EPA’s brazen overreach

Posted by Mike Duncan at 3:13 pm, May 12, 2015

This column originally appeared on FoxNews.com on May 5, 2015.

It’s been said that ‘timing is everything’ and time is just one of the issues at stake in the legal proceedings surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. Specifically, the Court must decide if a proposed federal regulation, like the CPP, can be struck down before it is finalized.

In this case, that would be the right decision.

Last month, attorneys on behalf of Murray Energy Corporation and a bipartisan coalition of 15 states argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit seeking to have the Court dismiss EPA’s plan. One of the arguments made by EPA is that the Court must not dismiss the rule because it is still tentative, could change, and the EPA could still “even withdraw the proposed rule”.

When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, however, the EPA is clearly talking out of both sides of its mouth. As EPA attorneys seek to convince the courts the proposed rule could be influenced or even withdrawn based on the feedback received in the public comment period, EPA officials are blatantly singing another tune.

Just one week prior to the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an energy symposium, “[The Clean Power Plan] is going to happen. We have the legal – not just right and authority but responsibility – to do it.”

In March, McCarthy said, “EPA is going to regulate… If folks are thinking any of these pieces aren’t going to happen – and (the Clean Power Plan) isn’t going to be implemented, I think they need to look at the history of the Clean Air Act more carefully.”

These are hardly the words of an agency that is still making up its mind.

Fortunately, Judge Thomas Griffith seemed to pick up on this during oral arguments, asking the EPA if McCarthy’s remarks suggest that the agency’s comment period is a “sham.” While the EPA argued it wasn’t, the evidence certainly suggests otherwise.

When the EPA held field hearings on the rule, they neglected to hold them in coal-rich areas that would be among those most hurt by its plan. EPA’s air quality chief Janet McCabe told Congress the agency held hearings in “locations where people were comfortable coming.”

A sincere comment period should not be about comfort. It should be about hearing the impacts – both good and bad – of a proposed rule. Unfortunately, the EPA seems uninterested in doing the right thing.

It is essential the courts act now to stop EPA’s Clean Power Plan because the impacts on states are already being felt. EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a specific plan that will lead to a nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 30 percent by 2030. These plans are to be submitted to EPA by June 2016.

These plans represent an extraordinarily complex undertaking. States will need to study their electricity infrastructure, change their policies and laws, adjust their regulatory structures, all while ensuring electric reliability isn’t put at risk. Many states suggest the development of such a plan will require three years or more, yet EPA is giving them just one. Adding insult to injury, all of this work must be done irrespective of legal challenges that will likely overturn the rule.

To accommodate this accelerated schedule, states already are dedicating taxpayer dollars to prepare for the rule. Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and South Dakota are just some of the states that report using significant amounts of staff time studying the proposed rule and the substantial changes they would need to make to implement it.

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