The Morning Consult: Ignoring the Economic Benefits of Coal-Based Electricity, President Obama Once Again Chooses Politics over Practicality

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:46 am, December 09, 2014

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.

In the wake of the midterm elections and looking ahead at two years of a lame duck presidency, President Obama is working harder than ever to advance his highly politicized climate agenda, even if it means ignoring the wills of Congress and the American people.

Backed by a small faction of environmentalist elites, the president is determined to pursue his political interests by whatever means necessary. In the last two weeks, that has meant making a questionable climate “deal” with China at the expense of Americans and our economy.

The president’s so-called “deal” with China will put America squarely on the losing end of the arrangement, as U.S. states struggle to meet unrealistic carbon reduction goals by 2025 while China operates as usual until 2030, when they are supposedly going to level-off their emissions. Of course the whole deal is non-binding, and skeptics aren’t sure China will honor their commitment.

One such doubter is the National Bureau of Asian Research which predicts China will continue to prioritize its economic growth over environmental policy and will resist any measure considered “restrictive” to its “conventional growth model,” which involves the use of affordable and reliable coal-fueled electricity.

The National Bureau of Asian Research raises a good point as China has experienced rapid economic development through the use of abundant and affordable coal deposits. The use of coal is bringing electrification to millions of its citizens for the first time as well as supporting its expanding manufacturing sector.

Like China, much of the world will rely on coal-based electricity to lift their citizens out of poverty and grow their economies. While these countries set their sights on a path towards economic growth and development, America will chart a different course – one plagued by lost jobs, soaring energy costs and a weakened manufacturing base.


Americans from Coast to Coast #ThankAMiner

Posted by Julia Treanor at 5:25 pm, December 04, 2014

America’s Power recently launched #ThankAMiner, a new initiative that showcases the many reasons Americans are thankful for our nation’s coal miners. We profiled the program in a blog post last week, and since then, we’ve received a flood of submissions from supporters sharing why they #ThankAMiner.

Here are just a few of the messages we’ve received so far:

“I #ThankAMiner – they work very hard each day to allow us to have electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Their job supports many communities, small businesses and millions of ancillary jobs. Our country needs coal… Thank you for what you do!” – Justin T., West Virginia

“The coal industry is…the backbone of America.” – Bob B., Iowa

“For all your hard work, I was able to work in a coal-fired power plant for 36 years. Your commitment to provide us with quality coal allowed [me] to buy a home and put my children through college. THANKS!” – Sue R., Michigan

“Today, I urge you to join me and #ThankAMiner for putting in the long hours and doing the hard work of providing affordable and reliable electricity to the people of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, and across the United States.” – Congressman Bill Johnson, Ohio

“Thank you to each and every man and woman who goes into the pits or works the strip mines for the hard work you do so that I can enjoy having electricity. I know there are other ways to provide this but none that are as inexpensive as coal.” – Phyllis G., Kentucky

“I thank you and your families for all the days and nights of hard work to bring the coal from the ground so that we can have affordable energy to be able to power our homes and workplaces.” – Carol M., Alabama

“I thank Power River Basin & America’s miners for providing affordable electricity.” Martha A., Wyoming

“Coal miners are tough and hard workers. They put forth every effort to make sure conditions are safe and secure to extract a product that continues to provide necessary energy to keep America and the world working. You are not recognized and thanked enough.” – Dawn R., Pennsylvania

Add your voice to the movement before National Miners Day on Saturday, December 6. Visit ThankAMiner.org to submit your photo and written message sharing why you want to #ThankAMiner.


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Kentucky

Posted by Julia Treanor at 8:48 am, December 03, 2014

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.

 


Thank a Coal Miner this Holiday Season

Posted by Julia Treanor at 2:09 pm, November 25, 2014

All too often, we forget where the electricity that powers our lives first begins. For reliable, coal-based electricity, the process of power generation starts in America’s coal mines.

Saturday, December 6 is National Miners Day, and America’s Power is excited to announce a new initiative that showcases the reasons we’re thankful for the hard-working men and women who provide affordable, reliable electricity from coal to communities across the United States. We encourage you to take part in our #ThankAMiner initiative and tell us why you value our nation’s coal miners, just like America’s Power Nationwide Series driver Regan Smith did. As Regan told us, “I am thankful for America’s miners – they work hard each and every day so that we can all keep the lights on.”

ThankAMiner-RSmithD2

Why are you thankful for America’s coal miners? To participate and add your voice to #ThankAMiner, visit www.ThankAMiner.org today.

 


President Obama’s Questionable Climate Deal and Its Impact on the American Economy

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:19 am, November 20, 2014

Last week, President Obama announced a non-binding agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions, taking yet another action that puts America’s energy and economic future at risk. The so-called “deal” requires deep cuts in America’s carbon emissions by 2025, yet allows China to operate unfettered until 2030, at which time carbon emissions would supposedly level off.

Abundant, reliable, low-cost electricity is the driving force behind a healthy and growing economy. America has experienced this throughout its history, as affordable electricity, largely provided by coal-based generation, fueled widespread economic development. From Silicon Valley’s data centers in the West to the recent manufacturing resurgence in America’s Heartland, low-cost coal power has been a mainstay of support for growing jobs and the economy here at home. Coal currently provides 40 percent of our nation’s electricity and misguided attempts to limit its use only stands to harm millions of consumers and businesses.

On the other hand, China’s economy continues to grow, as the country increasingly looks to coal to provide the affordable power needed to fuel jobs and economic development. With coal powering its future, think of the country’s enormous growth potential between now and 2030 – and then consider the enormous setback America’s economy will face as a result of President Obama’s overzealous activism.

What happens if China violates the agreement with the United States? Well, nothing really. It’s a non-binding agreement after all. But long before 2030 (when we see whether China stayed committed), the United States economy will already have suffered as President Obama and his EPA move full steam ahead with costly regulations that will upend our commercial model for years to come.

Sadly, the president’s climate “deal” with China is yet another example of the administration putting its climate crusade ahead of the American families and businesses that depend on reliable, low-cost electricity. President Obama is leading Americans down a treacherous path, while allowing China to grow and develop for the next decade and beyond. Americans are truly on the losing end of this climate arrangement.

Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org by December 1 to send a comment to the EPA opposing costly carbon regulations.


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Indiana

Posted by Julia Treanor at 8:53 am, November 17, 2014

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.

 


Industry Spotlight: Leading the Way in Veteran Employment

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 3:07 pm, November 12, 2014

This Veterans Day, we were reminded of the incredible sacrifices the men and women in our armed forces have made to keep America safe. After serving their country, many service members seek to transition into the workforce and find fulfilling, quality employment.

The coal, electricity and transportation industries have a long history of hiring veterans. From mining in West Virginia, to hauling coal on America’s railways in the Powder River Basin, to constructing a cutting-edge power facility in Mississippi, these industries have committed to welcoming veterans into their companies and working to leverage the invaluable skills they bring to the table to power America’s energy and economy.

On the heels of Veterans Day, we’re highlighting two of our member companies who lead employers across every industry in military employment: CSX and Southern Company. While each of our members has a history of strong veterans hiring, we’re highlighting two that have recently received well-deserved accolades for their efforts.

CSX

Nearly one-in-five employees of CSX is a veteran, a statistic that is far more than a number for the company. In the words of CEO Michael Ward, CSX is “proud to create an environment that attracts, develops and retains the best and brightest talent – including those with the invaluable experience of serving our country.”

These hard-working men and women apply the leadership and technical skills they learned while in the armed forces to a career with one of the nation’s leading railroad companies. CSX was recently named to DiversityInc’s “Top 10 Companies for Veterans” list for the second consecutive year, as well as G.I. Jobs’ “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers” list.

Southern Company

Just this week, Southern Company was named the highest-ranked utility on the “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers” listing by G.I. Jobs. For eight years running, Southern Company has been named to this list because of its commitment to hiring veterans and supporting organizations like Troops to Energy Jobs.

Ten percent of Southern Company’s workforce is comprised of skilled veterans. What’s more, 20 percent of the new hires at the Kemper County Energy Facility, one of the world’s cleanest and most innovative coal-fueled power plants, have prior military experience. On veteran hiring, president and CEO of Southern Company Services Mark S. Lantrip recently said “these heroes are a natural fit for our company because they bring the characteristics of dedication, commitment to safety, teamwork and excellence in all they do, which align with the utility industry and our company culture.”

Both CSX and Southern Company are consistently recognized for their leadership in military recruitment and on-the-job training because of their sincere, proven commitment to recruiting and retaining veterans. We admire their leadership. But most importantly, we salute every man and woman who has served in America’s armed forces, and we thank them for their service.

 


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.