Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller on the Importance of Reliable Electricity

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 9:13 am, February 12, 2015

I’m Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and I co-own JR Motorsports along with my brother Dale Jr. JR Motorsports has partnered with America’s Power for the last three seasons, and we’re looking forward to another great year on and off the track in 2015.

This year, I’m excited to pen a new monthly series for the Behind the Plug blog, where I’ll explore how the important mission of America’s Power—protecting affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity from coal—impacts my everyday life as a business owner, mom and member of my community.

Through JR Motorsports’ partnership with America’s Power, I’ve had the opportunity to learn how electricity is generated and the vital role coal plays in the process. Right here in North Carolina, the home of JR Motorsports’ headquarters, coal is responsible for providing nearly 40 percent of our low-cost, reliable electricity.

When temperatures drop as they have across the country this winter, Americans are relieved to know that when they flip a switch, the lights will come on. But behind the electricity that powers homes and businesses are the energy workers who ensure that our power stays on when we need it most. As Dale Jr. says in this month’s featured video, these hard-working men and women “keep the lights on and the cold at bay.”

The 2015 NASCAR season opener is just a few days away, and on behalf of JR Motorsports, I can’t wait to begin another season with America’s Power. Thanks for reading, and check back next month for my new post on Behind the Plug.

 


Lights Out: New Video Shows How EPA Will Leave American Families in the Dark

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:28 pm, February 10, 2015

America’s Power released a new video today highlighting the serious threat the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations pose to our electric reliability. The video follows a family’s journey through a winter storm to learn why power outages have occurred at a time when reliable electricity is needed the most. What they discover is that coal-based power plants, which provide our base-load electricity and keep our homes and businesses powered during winter storms and throughout the year, have been forced offline due to EPA’s misguided and politicized energy policies.

The latest addition to our #ColdInTheDark campaign, this video drives home a crucial point – EPA’s overreaching and dangerous regulations will indeed turn the lights off on American families if left unchallenged.

EPA is clearly living in a fantasy world where they believe intermittent energy sources can make up for the nearly 49,000 MW of generating capacity from coal plants set to be shut down by the end of this year. Even though EPA prefers to dwell in dreamland, we hope our video wakes Americans up to the harsh reality these regulations will impose.

What can you do to help prevent Americans from going without power when they need it most? Sign up for the America’s Power Army, and learn more at KeepAmericasPowerOn.org.

 


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Nebraska

Posted by Julia Treanor at 3:35 pm, February 03, 2015

Last November, America’s Power launched a state-focused blog series to explore the critical role coal-based electricity plays in communities across America. We continue the series today by spotlighting Nebraska, a state that receives 72 percent of its electricity from coal.

From a small specialty food store to the state’s largest manufacturer, businesses of all sizes depend on low electricity rates from coal to keep energy costs low. Coal is also the most transported commodity in Nebraska, supporting thousands of freight rail jobs throughout the state. In fact, Union Pacific Railroad has called Omaha home since 1862, and its main line through central Nebraska is America’s busiest rail freight corridor.

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations take direct aim at these industries, jobs and Nebraska’s broader use of coal-fired electricity. As Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer noted last year, “EPA’s anti-coal agenda will cost Nebraskans valuable jobs, increase electricity prices for middle class families, and jeopardize access to affordable, reliable energy.” According to recent analysis, the Cornhusker state could face peak year electricity rate increases of 19 percent under EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Nebraska’s state officials have been vocal opponents of the agency’s regulatory overreach: in 2013, the state’s Attorney General signed a white paper opposing EPA’s approach, and last year, Nebraska joined 12 other states in litigation challenging EPA’s proposal. Opposition to the agency’s carbon plan continues to grow, and recently sworn-in Governor Pete Ricketts vowed to “stand up to excessive regulation forced on [Nebraska] by Washington.”

Learn how you can help protect affordable electricity in Nebraska and in your state: sign up for America’s Power Army to receive alerts on activities and events throughout the year.   

 


Setting the Agenda: America’s Power Welcomes New Faces of the 114th Congress

Posted by China Riddle at 12:37 pm, January 29, 2015

Last Thursday, America’s Power teamed up with Real Clear Politics to host a captivating panel featuring four freshman Senators. These new faces – Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) – gathered to discuss their reaction to the President’s State of the Union address and their hopes for the 114th Congress.

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Almost to a tee, when asked for two words that described their reaction to the SOTU, all said disappointed and missed opportunity. Indeed, it was a missed opportunity as the President by-passed talking about a host of critical policy issues, energy chief among them.

As Senator Rounds succinctly put it, the President offered no insight into our energy situation, but instead offered “a defense of where we are, and offense about what he wouldn’t do to work with us.”

The President’s resistance to compromise echoes the resistance his Environmental Protection Agency allies demonstrate with their Clean Power Plan. Yet another item absent from the President’s SOTU agenda was a transparent discussion about the costly consequences, like higher electricity rates and less reliable energy, associated with his dogged climate crusade.

Overall, the panel further shared its disappointment with the President as he opted for a defiant and uncooperative tone. A tone that made it clear he is not interested in working together with Republicans on the tough issues facing our nation.

Senator Tillis’ comments perfectly summarize the panel’s feelings, as well as the energy situation America is in: last year’s midterm elections revealed that citizens feel “a level of discomfort with the direction [the Administration has] taken this country.” The SOTU was President Obama’s opportunity to recognize the need to “find common ground with a majority of states.”

We can only hope the Administration will soon withdraw its unworkable, unachievable policies and find the much called-for common ground Americans deserve.

 


Governors Stand Up for Smart Energy Policy

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 5:02 pm, January 28, 2015

Governors throughout the country marked the beginning of their terms last week by speaking out against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations. In State of the State addresses from Indiana to Wyoming, governors promised to stand up for affordable, reliable electricity from coal.

Read a few that caught our eye—and left us encouraged that state leaders will fight to protect their constituents from the skyrocketing energy costs and weakened electric reliability that would result from EPA’s regulations.

Governor Matt Mead (R-WY): “Coal is critical to Wyoming, and we must assure its future. Beyond that, coal is critical to this country’s future. And in my lifetime, I’ve never seen an onslaught against a single industry, a single commodity, like the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda. The EPA has had a green light to go after the coal industry, and six years later coal is still targeted by federal regulators.”

Governor Mike Pence (R-IN): “Because low-cost energy is vital to our economy, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including energy efficiency. But know this, Indiana is a pro-coal state, and we must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA…”

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV): “I know times are tough, but let me be clear, I will never stop fighting against federal regulations that harm our state’s energy industry and devastate our miners, their families and our communities. Last month, we filed comments related to the EPA’s carbon pollution emission guidelines and urged the EPA to reconsider its proposed plan. Federal bureaucrats must understand the impact these new rules will have on families and communities here and across the country. We must work together to develop reasonable, achievable goals that balance the environmental protection we all support with the economic growth we must maintain.”

Governor Scott Walker (R-WI): “I am working with our new Attorney General to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations.  These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing. According to recent reports, we could lose tens of thousands of jobs in our region, and ratepayers could see an increase of up to 29 percent.  We will fight to protect Wisconsin’s hard-working families. Instead of fighting with states like Wisconsin, the federal government should work with us to find reasonable alternatives.  We can be both environmentally and economically sustainable.”

As more governors deliver their State of the State addresses in the coming weeks, we expect the chorus of opposition to EPA’s plan to grow even louder. In the meantime, visit KeepAmericasPowerOn.org to learn more about how coal-based power keeps energy costs low and the lights on across the country.


Newly Launched #ColdInTheDark Campaign Highlights Reliability Concerns with EPA Regulations

Posted by Julia Treanor at 4:07 pm, January 23, 2015

This week, America’s Power launched a new campaign—#ColdInTheDark—to highlight the high costs and significant electric reliability impacts that will result from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon regulations. The initiative offers a glimpse into the reality American consumers will face under the Clean Power Plan: less affordable and less reliable electricity, especially during times of critical demand.

EPA’s regulations are forcing coal-based power plants to shut down, threatening our supply of reliable electricity and elevating the risk of power outages for years to come. Last winter’s polar vortex revealed an already-strained electric grid, and major grid operators, regulators, elected officials, energy experts and other concerned Americans from coast to coast have sounded the alarm.

#ColdInTheDark is the inaugural installment of KeepAmericasPowerOn.org, a new initiative that will include several themed campaigns throughout 2015. The site will serve as an online hub that includes news articles, expert takes, infographics, social media share graphics, and resources related to electric grid reliability.

It’s time to expose EPA’s regulations for what they are, before Americans are left #ColdInTheDark – without the low-cost, dependable power we need, when we need it the most. Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org to learn more.  


After Misguided State of the Union, Time for Congress to Act on Climate Regulations

Posted by Mike Duncan at 3:38 pm, January 21, 2015

President Obama delivered yet another disappointing State of the Union address last night. The president missed a momentous occasion to reverse his dangerous regulatory regime and restore balance and affordability to the nation’s energy mix.

It’s clear that the president is forging ahead with his climate regulations—even if it leaves America without the low-cost, reliable electricity from coal we need. But now, President Obama is facing a new and energized Congress that must rein in the Environmental Protection Agency and put an end to the Obama Administration’s overreaching regulations.

I recently penned a piece for Roll Call, charging Congress to take action against the Obama Administration’s costly climate crusade.

After last night, the need for Congressional leadership to stand firm against these regulations is more critical than ever.

This piece first ran in Roll Call.

Returning to regular order means reining in EPA

If there is one lasting change the 114th Congress should seek to make, it is the return to regular order. The Founding Fathers intentionally made it difficult for the federal government to enact laws but not impossible. The seeming impossibility of any meaningful congressional action has instead been wrought by closely divided congressional chambers, bitter partisanship and misapplication of Senate rules.

With Congress on the sidelines, the Obama administration has repeatedly overstepped its executive authority by enacting new rules and regulations without regard for the safeguards established more than 225 years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which is illegally using an obscure provision of the 1970 Clean Air Act to advance the president’s climate plan without congressional regard and despite sharp criticism from states, industries and constitutional scholars. Even Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a teacher and longtime supporter of President Barack Obama, noted in his comments of opposition to EPA that the agency “is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

Beyond its constitutional problems, the president’s plan will cause severe and long-lasting damage to the economy. In fact, according to a recent study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, the costs to comply with EPA’s proposal could total $366 billion, on the conservative end, and create double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. With such massive and far-reaching implications, shouldn’t Congress have a role in developing energy policy as it is charged with crafting?

Fortunately, the 114th Congress has the opportunity to restore the proper checks and balances to our system while reigning in EPA in the process. An important step came late last year when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will return to regular order and allow the Senate to debate and vote on amendments on the Senate floor. Former Majority Leader Harry Reid had been all too anxious to avoid debate or votes on the president’s climate plan.

In addition to the basics of debating and voting on amendments, Congress’ appropriations process provides another useful vehicle to push back against agencies running amok. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills for specific agencies rather than passing year-end, all-encompassing omnibus bills. Individual funding bills provide members of Congress, who were elected by the American people, a mechanism to ensure they have a voice in the policies being driven by political appointees.

Finally, members of Congress need to work closely not just with one another, but with their counterparts in their home states. While federal policies are enacted in D.C., state governments are often left with the job of implementing those policies or leading the charge against overturning them if they are not workable, which is certainly the case with the president’s climate plan.

When EPA solicited comments on the president’s plan, at least 27 states argued the agency was exceeding its legal authority with 26 states calling on EPA to withdraw the proposal. Through legal challenges and legislative action, state governments are preparing to preserve their authority and fight EPA. It goes without saying that federal legislators must be informed about what is happening in their own states to truly act in the best interests of their constituents.

As poll after polls shows, the American public is keenly aware of and dissatisfied with the status quo of never-ending, partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital. Regular order in Congress, and with the president’s power, is what’s called for in the weeks and months ahead. Only by returning to the model set out by our founding fathers can we hope to achieve normalcy in our legislative process and success for our country.

Let Congress make policy.

 


Setting the Record Straight: EPA Misleads Americans on Clean Power Plan

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 7:15 am, January 14, 2015

Last week, acting EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe rattled off EPA’s same stale talking points about the Clean Power Plan in her blog post: “Time and Flexibility: Keys to Ensuring Reliable, Affordable Electricity.” In the post, McCabe touts the “time and flexibility” EPA has afforded states to comply with its proposed plan. This is really just laughable as an array of stakeholders—from grid operators to regulators to leading energy experts—have made it clear EPA’s timeline and flexibility is unworkable.

Don’t take my word for it, however, just look at the comments submitted on this topic. Here’s one of the most succinct by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality:

“EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan does not afford the flexibility for Nebraska to comply as advocated by EPA.”

McCabe’s post also highlights EPA’s commitment to solicit and engage stakeholders on its proposal. Time and time again, however, EPA failed to solicit and/or engage critical stakeholders. In 2014, the agency held only five public hearings on the proposed regulations and bypassed coal communities across the country despite pleas for EPA to come to their region and hear firsthand how communities and businesses would be destroyed. Additionally, the agency is turning a deaf ear to mounting concerns raised by states, who fear the CPP will throw their electricity generation into a tailspin—driving up costs and weakening grid reliability. As we outlined recently, with the CPP that are being all but ignored.

The agency argues that Clean Air Act regulations have yet to cause the lights to go out. However, this claim fails to take into account that the CPP proposal is wholly unprecedented in size and scope. Experts agree the reliability impacts of the proposal will be significant and potentially devastating, especially for the most vulnerable Americans. Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s comments read like many other state leaders, firmly opposing EPA’s proposal and underscoring serious reliability concerns:

“The proposed rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed. They exceed the legal authority granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. They seek to fundamentally restructure how our electricity grid functions while making our electricity less reliable.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post also maintains that CPP will protect Americans’ access to affordable energy. An analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, which uses the government’s own data, debunks this claim. The analysis found compliance costs of the proposed guidelines could total $366 billion, or more, in today’s dollars and result in double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states. In their comments to EPA, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox raises concerns regarding cost repercussions, a common message among the growing chorus of opposition:

“As you may know, coal is the dominant source of generating electricity in Utah… Any transition away from this historically low-cost electricity source will have economic repercussions not just for the communities of those employed in the industry but throughout the state in the form of higher electricity prices.”

Assistant Administrator McCabe’s post reaffirms what we already knew: EPA will continue misleading on its overreaching and impractical proposal, ignoring legitimate and widespread opposition and disregarding the deeply negative consequences that will result from the plan. With EPA showing no sign of coming clean about these impacts, it is up to American consumers to arm themselves with the facts and take action to stop EPA’s costly proposal from moving forward.