Threat of EPA Regulations a Rallying Cry for Prospective Candidates

Posted by America's Power at 4:30 pm, April 11, 2015

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.


The Morning Consult: Legal and Cost Concerns Mounting Against EPA Regulations

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:12 am, April 07, 2015

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on April 1, 2015.

Criticism around the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has grown over the last month. Much of it has focused on the fact that EPA’s plan stretches far beyond the limits of sound legal and economic policy.

American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity president and CEO Mike Duncan described in a March 11 op-ed in the Washington Examiner how EPA’s proposed rule completely disregards the principles of federalism that define our Constitution. In what many agree is federal overreach, President Obama has granted EPA the authority to implement standards each state must meet to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While EPA claims that it is within its legal bounds under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act to do so, a number of experts have been quick to disprove this argument.

Morning Consult Blog_EPA_FINAL_04.07.15

Speaking at a House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing last month, Lawrence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School and former mentor to President Obama, stated, “The obscure section of the Clean Air Act that EPA invokes to support its breathtaking exercise of power in fact authorizes only regulating individual plants and, far from giving EPA the green light it claims, actually forbids what it seeks to do.”

Professor Tribe—who taught the nation’s first environmental law class—went on to compare the Obama Administration’s proposed carbon regulations to “burning the Constitution.” Allison Wood, another hearing witness and environmental attorney with Hunton and Williams, LLP, sealed the argument by stating that EPA’s proposal “suffers from numerous legal deficiencies, including whether EPA even has the authority to issue it.”

In fact, since the rule was proposed in June 2014, officials in 29 states ranging from attorneys general to governors and state legislators have concluded that EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power units.

Fanning the flames, EPA’s proposed rule also poses grave economic consequences that could harm our nation’s economy. Monthly utility costs under the rule would skyrocket, leaving our poorest and most vulnerable communities facing exorbitant electricity rates. According to an analysis conducted last October, the compliance cost of EPA’s proposal could total more than $366 billion and cause double-digit utility rate increases for consumers in 43 states.

It’s hard to buy what EPA is selling when it comes to the agency’s Clean Power Plan. The rule is on perilous legal ground and if implemented will raise the price tag on consumers and plunge our economy back into a recession.

Americans must continue demanding the facts and force this administration to stop its “act now, think later” mentality. Only then will our nation stand a chance of implementing a true all-of-the-above energy policy that will provide Americans the affordable, reliable energy needed for success and future economic growth.


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Iowa

Posted by Julia Treanor at 3:05 pm, April 06, 2015

Iowa garners substantial political attention as the presidential election season’s first caucus state. The Hawkeye State, however, leads our nation in much more than caucuses. Iowa is also a leader in agriculture and manufacturing, and a key component fueling this success is coal-based electricity, which provides 59 percent of Iowa’s power.

Low-cost electricity from coal helps Iowa manufacturers employ 14 percent of the state’s workforce, ranking third in the nation for manufacturing employment. Iowa is also recognized as a top-three state for agricultural production, with farmers relying on coal-based electricity to power their equipment affordably and reliably.

Des Moines Skyline

Iowa has a lot to lose under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, especially when it comes to the wide-ranging effects the plan will have on the state’s local industries. America’s Power will be in Des Moines on April 9 to discuss the potential economic impacts of EPA’s proposal and how this will shape the energy debate in the 2016 elections.

Explore our site to learn how EPA regulations will affect Iowa or your home state, learn more about our event in Iowa and participate in our upcoming energy conversation by using the hashtag #RoadTo2016.


Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 8:00 am, April 02, 2015

America’s Power is partnering with InsideSources to host an energy policy discussion featuring Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Senator Rick Santorum and Iowa Congressman David Young on Thursday, April 9th in Des Moines, Iowa.

This inaugural event is the first in our “Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate” series, a set of discussions America’s Power will sponsor across the country on the effects Environmental Protection Agency regulations are having on states and how this debate will shape the political narrative in the year ahead.

The energy debate in the 2016 elections will be critically important. As it stands, EPA’s Clean Power Plan takes direct aim at coal-based electricity and will force states like Iowa to restructure how energy is produced. Replacing America’s most abundant and affordable fuel source with expensive and intermittent sources will increase electricity rates and reduce grid reliability, both in Iowa and across the country.

With such drastic changes to our electricity supply on the line, it’s time to bring the energy debate home.

Learn more about our event in Iowa and participate in the conversation by following America’s Power on Twitter or using the event hashtag #RoadTo2016.


FERC Conferences Underscore Mounting Concerns with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 2:46 pm, March 31, 2015

As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wraps up the final of three regional technical conferences today in St. Louis, Missouri we thought it would be interesting to take a look at what others have said at previous conferences.

I don’t think you’ll be surprised that cost and reliability are chief among the growing chorus of concerns coming from experts and stakeholders in the states.

  • In February, at the FERC regional conference in Denver, Michael Hummel of Arizona’s Salt River Project testified that, “the Clean Power Plan as currently drafted will have a disproportionate impact on Arizona and threatens our ability to reliably maintain the electric grid.”
  • The next month in Washington, D.C., Jeff Burleson, Vice President of System Planning of Southern Company, warned that the CPP, “unlike past environmental requirements… is a major overhaul of the electric system that will potentially put serious reliability and operational pressures on the grid.”
  • Ross Eisenberg of the National Association of Manufacturers told FERC, “[the CPP] and its massive redesign of the energy system threatens secure, affordable supply of energy.”
  • National power groups have also implored FERC to play an active role in fixing EPA’s flawed proposal. In Washington, D.C., Jay Morrison, vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperative urged FERC, “Please do not be a potted plan in this instance.  Please be very active.”

Regulators and energy industry experts will likely echo these concerns before FERC in St. Louis.  As this is the final FERC technical conference, we hope all parties are listening closely and are prepared to take appropriate action by withdrawing the CPP.


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Missouri

Posted by Julia Treanor at 1:19 pm, March 31, 2015

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.

Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller Celebrates Women in the Energy Industry

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 11:59 am, March 27, 2015

On the race track and in the office, my brother Dale Jr. and I work hard to ensure JR Motorsports runs smoothly. The dependable, low-cost electricity powering our business is a big part of that effort.

I was excited to join America’s Power last month as a guest blogger. In my first post, I discussed the importance of reliable electricity and the critical role it plays in my life as a business owner, mom and member of my community. This month, I’m excited to celebrate women in the energy industry who help power our lives—an appropriate topic since March is International Women’s History Month.

Thousands of women are employed in the coal mining, railroad and power utility industries in America, a fact that too often gets overlooked. Careers in the coal industry provide high-paying, stable jobs for skilled workers with tremendous opportunity for advancement and growth. With our society’s efforts to encourage girls to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers, more commonly known as “STEM,” energy jobs are a place where they can gain such skills and in turn help shape America’s energy future.

Investments in energy production are funding cutting-edge technologies and programs that will need the next generation of leaders at the helm. With more than 250 years’ worth of coal within our borders, it’s important that these opportunities be extended to many more generations of women in the future.

I’m thankful to women energy workers not only because their work ensures I have the power I need to do my job, but because they are important role models to our girls who want to dream big and build a career in these fields.

Thanks for reading, and see you in April for my next installment on Behind the Plug.


CPP – Clean Power Plan or “Crowned” Power Plan?

Posted by China Riddle at 9:40 am, March 20, 2015

As a small-town girl, I never expected anywhere I called home to host a monarch, let alone see both places I call home entertain royalty in the same week. As you may have heard, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are visiting the United States. Naturally, their first stop was my new home in Washington, D.C. To finish their tour, however, the royal pair is dropping by…my old Kentucky home?

Yes, the successor to Britain’s throne is speaking at a Louisville symposium for health and the environment. Although this event is definitely out of the ordinary, it isn’t what I found most surprising when contemplating their royal visit.

During a recent appearance in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, EPA air chief Janet McCabe was asked why public hearings weren’t held in states most impacted by the Clean Power Plan. Ms. McCabe’s answer? EPA selected locations they felt most “comfortable” visiting. Few stakeholder locations made the list, as EPA ignored repeated invites to coal-producing states, including an invitation to Kentucky extended by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

It is this question that baffles me – how could another nation’s prince be more comfortable visiting Kentucky than officials from our own government?

EPA didn’t feel “comfortable” enough hearing the concerns of those most affected by the Clean Power Plan, yet their regulations will force Americans to face job losses, higher energy costs and less reliable electricity. EPA’s attempt to unilaterally control how we produce and use energy has me asking – who is wearing the crown here? Prince Charles or EPA?

EPA should remember America is not a monarchy before the Clean Power Plan leaves us with a royal mess.