While Global Threats Abound, DOD Chooses to Focus on Climate Change “Security Issues”

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 12:48 pm, November 10, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was recently quoted as saying climate change presents security issues” for the United States, and it is “critically important that we pay attention.” Such hyperbole isn’t surprising from the Obama Administration, whose misguided climate change agenda distracts from issues of real concern to the American people. After all, aren’t there far more pressing threats to the security of the United States?

The ISIS threat is only growing. Turmoil persists in Russia. Ebola has become a global health epidemic. Yet, the leader of the U.S. Department of Defense is wasting his breath crying foul about…climate change?

Fiddling with climate change

The issue of climate change consistently ranks at the bottom of Americans’ most pressing concerns, and last week’s midterm elections sent a powerful message to the Obama Administration: get your priorities straight and stop your costly climate crusade.

To voice your own opposition to President Obama’s plan, and to stand up for American energy security, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today to file a comment with EPA.


The Morning Consult: America’s Consumers Will Pay the Price for EPA’s Carbon Regulations

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 4:21 pm, November 03, 2014

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

The evidence continues to mount against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a set of costly and overreaching regulations designed to curtail the use of coal-based electricity here at home. New data confirms that EPA’s proposed rule on existing power plants will force higher energy costs on American consumers and businesses while providing no real global environmental benefit.

A recently released study by NERA Economic Consulting reveals that EPA’s proposal is the most costly environmental regulation ever imposed on the electric power sector. Under the plan, compliance costs could range from $366 billion to $479 billion, with annual costs averaging $41 billion or more, and consumers would be forced to spend $560 billion on ways to cut electricity use. NERA’s analysis also projects double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states as a result of the plan, with 14 states potentially facing peak-year electricity rate increases exceeding 20 percent. Higher electricity costs will affect all aspects of our economic system, from manufacturing costs to the transportation of goods to the operating expenses of businesses. These increased prices on goods and services will be inflicted on American consumers, impacting households’ budgets and creating a ripple effect throughout the entire economy. Business owners will be forced to choose between paying higher energy bills and creating new jobs, finding themselves less and less competitive here at home and in the global marketplace.

EPA is making its best attempt to control how our country’s electricity is produced, and all of us will suffer as a result. Thanks to previous regulations from EPA – most notably the Mercury Air Toxic Standards rule – more than 350 coal-fueled power plants are set to retire or be converted by 2015. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will only exacerbate this already dangerous situation. According to NERA, coal retirements are projected to increase by at least 45,000 megawatts of power – a number greater than the entire power supply of New England. Since EPA’s proposed regulations essentially ban the construction of new coal-fired plants under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, the reduced supply of coal-fired electricity will severely impact the reliability of our electric grid. The strain on our electric grid was readily apparent during last year’s Polar Vortex, when coal-fired plants set for retirement were working at full capacity to meet demand other fuels could not provide.

Across the country, state legislators have expressed opposition to EPA’s approach to setting carbon standards for existing coal-fired power plants. To date, 31 legislative bodies, governors and attorneys general have stood up to the EPA’s overreach through legislation, resolutions or letters directly sent to the administration.

Despite the wide-reaching and detrimental impacts this proposal will have on our economy, job market and electric grid, EPA is determined to continue its regulatory crusade against the coal industry. Sadly, it’s American consumers who will be left footing the bill.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. & America’s Power Have a Message for You: Get Out and Vote

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 9:02 am, October 28, 2014

I’m pleased to announce that America’s Power and our longtime partner, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., have joined forces on a new initiative to encourage voter participation in this November’s midterm elections.

Dale Jr. is not only a NASCAR driver – he’s a business owner who understands how policy decisions made in Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the country stand to impact consumers and our broader economy. As Dale Jr. tells us in his new video, “protecting low-cost energy from coal isn’t a partisan issue, and everyone stands to lose if regulations are imposed that increase energy costs for families and businesses.”

Do you know where your candidates stand on important energy issues? Our country’s future is at a critical juncture, and we must elect strong advocates for affordable, reliable electricity powered by coal to keep our energy costs low and our economy on the right track.

America’s energy future is in your hands. Make sure you get out and vote on or before November 4.


New Data Confirms Consumers and Businesses Will Bear the Burden of EPA’s Costly Proposed Carbon Regulations

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:47 pm, October 22, 2014

A new study by NERA Economic Consulting exposes the truth about EPA’s proposed carbon regulations for America’s power plants: the price tag of the plan is unlike anything we’ve seen before and American consumers and businesses will be stuck with the tab.

NERA’s analysis confirms the economic costs of EPA’s plan are staggering, and include:

  • Compliance costs totaling $366 billion or more
  • Annual costs for consumers of $41 billion or more
  • Double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states
  • Peak year electricity price increases exceeding 20 percent in 14 states

These costs are especially concerning when compared to other rules imposed by EPA. As proposed, EPA’s carbon regulations will far outpace the costs of compliance for all EPA rules for power plants in 2010 ($7 billion) and the annual cost of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule ($10 billion), which is already responsible for the planned shutdown of a significant portion of the U.S. coal fleet. EPA’s proposal will rapidly increase coal retirements, shuttering 45,000 megawatts or more of coal-based electricity—more than the entire electricity supply of New England. With most of these retirements projected to occur within the next five years, EPA is sending us down a dangerous path towards weakened electric reliability and power outages during critical times.

Despite these significant costs and threats to reliability, EPA’s proposal would have a meaningless effect on global climate change:  atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be reduced by less than one-half of a percent, equating to reductions in global average temperature of less than 2/100th of a degree, and sea level rise would be reduced by 1/100th of an inch—equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper.

Our fears of economic downturn, weakened electric reliability and rising electricity costs for American families and businesses will become an everyday reality if EPA imposes these dangerous and overreaching regulations. Join us and tell EPA that its “all pain, no gain” regulatory agenda must stop. Submit a comment at www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today.


On the Trail: The State of Energy in North Carolina

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 3:54 pm, October 20, 2014

America’s Power recently held our second state policy event in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosting local guests at the Mint Museum Uptown for a conversation on energy policy. Moderated by Tom Bevan from RealClearPolitics, the event featured keynote remarks by Governor Pat McCrory and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who both noted the impact the 2014 elections will have on America’s energy future. Tillis, who currently serves as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, also discussed the devastating impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations would have on electricity prices and jobs in North Carolina.

Following their remarks, our panel of experts covered a range of issues critical to the current energy debate. One message that continued to resonate throughout the discussion was the need for a sensible and balanced energy strategy. Instead of picking winners and losers through unfair and costly regulations, the administration should work with energy producers and utilities to advance standards that are both feasible and environmentally beneficial. While renewable energy sources such as wind and solar play a role in America’s energy future, we will continue to need coal to provide the constant supply of baseload power necessary to meet our growing energy demands.

Through our state policy events, we’ve brought together lawmakers, thought leaders and industry experts to explore the critical issues facing the future of energy. For full coverage of our past events in North Carolina and Arkansas, click here.

EPA’s Rule 111(d) and the Future of American Innovation: Part 2

Posted by Jade Davis at 1:09 pm, October 15, 2014

Earlier this week, I blogged about my experience at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hispanic business owners who attended the event were especially interested in how the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon standards could impact the future of technology and innovation in America, particularly when it comes to fossil fuels.

Clean coal technologies provide investment, jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. One of the most pertinent issues for minority firms is how to harness these opportunities and benefit from clean coal technologies. We all know the environmental benefits of more efficient baseload coal-fired electric generation: fewer emissions and greater efficiencies. There are, however, a number of economic benefits, like improvements in reliability of power, stable electric rates and opportunities for business to partner with the expansion of clean coal technologies.

This is not to say that renewables and other forms of baseload power do not provide similar benefits as clean coal technologies, but all fuels have a place in the American electricity generation mix and no one should be singled out as a winner or a loser.  The wholesale abandonment of a diverse mix of energy sources will dramatically change the economic realities of energy affordability and reliability in America.  The further development and dissemination of clean coal technologies, therefore, is essential for continued economic growth here at home and around the world. Regulations should reflect that reality, especially if we truly want to reduce emissions, which is a global issue, not just an American one.

America should lead the way in developing clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage. America should be the leader in getting other countries to adopt OUR technologies for carbon management, just as American business should be given a chance to grow as the nation takes the lead in carbon management strategies for electric power.

The regulatory environment must foster such innovation. Hispanic businesses and other minority businesses cannot base growth on using less abundant, less reliable and more expensive electricity. Importantly, the global community cannot endure such a course of action given that China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa will utilize more coal-fired electricity and will need American ingenuity to mitigate environmental effects.

EPA’s proposed regulations are connected to regulatory processes on every level of government—from policymakers in Washington, D.C. to state-level public service commissions to local co-ops and municipalities. It is critical that all Americans who stand to be impacted (that is: all Americans) weigh in on this important issue. We must ensure that EPA hears our concerns in the form of comments to the federal docket, as well as through conversations with local and state elected officials. We should use everything at our disposal to improve our environment, economy and opportunities. Leaving clean coal technologies behind will hamper those efforts. Get involved.


EPA’s Rule 111(d) and the Future of American Innovation: Part 1

Posted by Jade Davis at 12:53 pm, October 13, 2014

I recently spoke at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event was an opportunity to connect with friends, both old and new, from throughout the country. As a native Midwesterner, the picturesque mountain views made for a spectacular setting. The meeting also offered a chance to have a productive dialogue about America’s energy future, since the decision our nation ultimately makes about how we will regulate carbon dioxide emissions will have far-reaching effects on businesses from coast to coast.

On an energy and sustainability panel at the convention, I discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon standards. The carbon standards are a series of proposed regulations designed to regulate America’s existing power plants and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. EPA’s framework to achieve its reduction goal sets strict emissions limits for states that must be met beginning in the year 2020 through 2030 and beyond.

My comments at the USHCC convention focused on how Hispanic business owners would be affected if EPA’s rules are finalized as proposed and some fuels are made “winners” while others are designated as “losers.”  As you may assume, coal-fired electricity would be singled out as a “loser,” especially since EPA predicts that at least 50,000 MW of power will retire as a direct result of its proposed regulations.

What many entrepreneurs at the USHCC convention astutely pointed out, however, is that current and future innovations in fossil fuel technologies could also be lost if, and when, a third of our nation’s coal fleet is shuttered due to the proposed regulations. These are the same innovations that allow small startups to gather capital and build reputations through electric-generating plant contracts vis-à-visactivities such as maintenance, construction, logistics, materials, skilled trade, environmental services and more. These opportunities could be lost within the next few years if the rules are implemented as proposed.

Part of what makes America special is our ability to solve really tough issues. To that end, we’ve made really great strides in developing clean coal technologies to reduce emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, America is the leading innovator in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.  Sadly, however, EPA’s proposed regulations on our existing fleet of power plants could stop innovation in this critical area which means we won’t be the first nation to build carbon capture plants on a commercial scale.  And, because of that, entrepreneurs in other countries like India and China will reap the economic reward associated with advancing CCS technology. Moreover, the U.S. economy will not benefit from leading the next generation of carbon management technologies.

I had business owners ask my colleagues and I about this aspect of EPA’s proposed regulations numerous times during and after my remarks on the panel.  The truth is that carbon capture and storage, ultra-supercritical and integrated gasification combined cycle coal plants, among other technologies, are all providing significant reductions in the environmental impact of coal-fired electricity. Moreover, they are providing investment, jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs around the nation.

At the end of the day, we all want clean air and affordable, reliable electricity. The question is: “How do we maintain progress and continue down a path to near-zero emissions at coal-fired electric plants?” Many of the Hispanic business owners that were present at the USHCC convention believe that technology is the key to solving climate change issues, not LESS electricity. Technologies that are on display at the John W. Turk generating plant in Arkansas or the possibilities of carbon capture at the Kemper County facility in Mississippi are great examples of how these technologies can work if allowed time to grow and develop further. The jobs, investment, ingenuity and opportunities for growth at these facilities cannot be overlooked.  Plants like these are making our air cleaner and opening the door to America exporting its expertise to a world that is increasing its electric consumption, especially coal electricity consumption.

My next installment will examine the opportunities for minority firms to benefit from clean coal technologies. In the meantime, see how you can get involved and take action to protect the future of affordable, reliable, clean energy.

The Morning Consult: The Comment Period May Be Extended… It Still Means Nothing.

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:04 am, October 07, 2014

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have heard America’s plea for an extended comment period for its proposed carbon regulations, but the agency remains completely out of touch. An additional 45 days is still not nearly enough time for states and American consumers to fully comprehend the 700+ pages of these complex and lengthy regulations. And regardless of the comment period extension, the fact remains that not only are these regulations a threat to American jobs and the economy – they are legally flawed and will fundamentally change the way electricity is generated and distributed.

This month, the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to examine the challenges that states face in complying with the proposed carbon regulations and highlighted many issues associated with the proposal, including threats to their economies and electric reliability. The public utility commissioners who testified had very similar reactions to the proposal, all agreeing that it was a dramatic undertaking that does not acknowledge the complications that accompany the process of applying EPA’s inflexible emissions “goals” to the unique energy makeup of each state.

Beyond the multitude of costly consequences—threatening electric reliability, promoting overreliance on natural gas, increasing electricity prices for consumers and businesses, causing job losses and imposing mandates to use less electricity—the proposal’s fatal flaw is that EPA lacks the legal authority to do what it has proposed. EPA’s rule extends far beyond its limited legal authority and overrides each state’s prerogative to determine its own electricity prices. On top of that, the proposed standards are based on flawed information and assumptions that will result in devastating economic impacts for all sectors of our economy. All while having no meaningful effect on global climate change.

Our nation should certainly be working to build a diverse energy portfolio, but the approach of the Obama Administration is undermining gradual fuel diversification in the name of radical ideology. Several utilities have already predicted that we could experience another polar vortex this winter, and the only way to avoid the potential accompanying power outages is to continue using our most reliable energy source – coal. Taking coal out of America’s energy mix is an equation that doesn’t make any sense: it raises costs, eliminates jobs and offers potential electricity loss for thousands nationwide.

I’m not sure what will ultimately convince EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that these regulations need to be abandoned, no matter the length of the comment period.