Posts tagged Energy Security

Looking ahead: The State of the Union

Tonight’s State of the Union address is one of the most anticipated in recent history. Last week’s election in Massachusetts ended the Democrats’ super-majority in the U.S. Senate, and Americans from every walk of life are wondering, “What now?” Will Democrats and Republicans make a renewed effort for bipartisanship? Or will election year politics get in the way of legislative accomplishment?

While it may be difficult to predict what will happen this year, there is little doubt about what is on the minds of most Americans: their jobs, their family budget and the economy. At ACCCE, we share those concerns and are committed to advocating for and supporting policies that will strengthen our economy while creating and maintaining jobs.

First, let’s not forget that low-cost electricity from coal is a major economic driver. Coal is used to generate nearly 50 percent of America’s electricity, and states across America rely on coal to meet their electricity needs. Because of coal’s price stability and affordability, these states have been able to create manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries that provide good-paying jobs for American workers. We will work with the president and the Congress to ensure that public policies keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses.

Second, we will continue to support a comprehensive approach to federal carbon management legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bring new clean coal technologies to the marketplace, strengthen our economy and create jobs for American workers.

We can grow our economy, create jobs and ensure continued progress on the environment – including reducing carbon emissions. But accomplishing these goals will require all political parties and all economic sectors to work together. While this kind of cooperation is rare in Washington D.C., we remain optimistic about making progress on these goals in the years to come.

The Facts: On world stage, coal is U.S. strength


As economic development in China and India soars – along with their energy appetite – so does worldwide competition for energy, making it ever more important that we use our domestic resources as efficiently and judiciously as possible.

We’ve talked before about the plethora of energy options available to us, including renewable sources such as solar and wind. They both have their strengths – and they both have their weaknesses. For all their potential, these sources currently aren’t reliable enough to provide the always-on security that we need.

That’s why coal-generated electricity is so important.

Consider this fact:

•With more than 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves, the United States has more coal than the Middle East has oil.

We are fortunate to have the energy resources that so many others don’t. We have enough coal to power America’s homes and businesses at current rates for more than 200 years.

We have enough coal to power our schools, our hospitals, our streets and our ball fields. We have enough coal to provide America with the energy security it needs—now and well into the future.

Proposed gasification plant in Alaska could quadruple U.S. coal reserves

Lawrence Livermore UGC Diagram

Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is advising Cook Inlet Region Inc., an Alaska native-owned corporation, about building a 100-megawatt underground coal gasification plant on a shore near Anchorage, Ala., reports The San Francisco Business Times.

Alaska has about one-sixth of the world’s coal resources, The Times says. UGC technology would allow the state to fully use otherwise unrecoverable coal deposits, effectively tripling or quadrupling the U.S.’s coal reserves, according to Lawrence Livermore. This would be a big boost toward increasing our energy independence.

For those who aren’t familiar, underground coal gasification converts coal that is still in the ground into a combustible gas, which can then be used for industrial heating, power generation or the manufacture of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or diesel fuel.

The technology eliminates the need for coal to be mined, making it an environmentally safer and economically viable technology. Australia successfully demonstrated UGC on a commercial scale in 2008, and there are UGC projects underway in China, India and South Africa.

Cook Inlet Region Inc.’s $280 million UGC project is just one more example of our industry’s commitment to finding innovative ways to produce energy from coal. It would also help diversify Alaska’s current energy mix and provide a climate-conscious way to ensure greater energy security for the country.

We’ve been celebrating Energy Awareness Month since 1981

President Obama this month announced October as National Energy Awareness Month – but did you know that the federal government has dedicated time each year to energy awareness since 1981?

Almost three decades ago, the U.S. Department of Energy set aside a week to remind Americans about the importance of saving electricity, which later turned into a month-long event. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush made October its observation period.

Since then, the DOE has launched annual campaigns to promote the efficient use of our nation’s energy.

The department has been particularly active in getting other federal agencies to be more conscious of their electricity usage. Not only does the effort help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it saves taxpayer dollars – the government spends more than $9 billion to power its operations and facilities throughout the country.

This year’s Energy Awareness Month has the same focus and values, but with an emphasis on a clean energy economy, energy security and developing clean energy technology.

And with climate change legislation moving through the Senate, these issues have never been more important.

So take some time to reflect on how you can help promote the efficient use of our nation’s energy – and if you want to share, leave us a comment.

Here’s how Lieberman-Warner would affect the economy


It’s always a good feeling when other groups and studies validate what
you have been saying in the public eye. Since ABEC began, our message
has been that the economy, the environment and energy security are
linked and that you can’t radically alter policies for one without
affecting the others.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s economic analysis of Lieberman-Warner proves that point, finding the bill to be a job killer.

Meanwhile, consider this separate study
released last week by Science Applications International Corporation,
which points to some pretty severe economic consequences of the
proposed Lieberman-Warner climate change bill. A few highlights:

  • GDP losses of $151 to $210 billion in 2020 and $631 to $669 billion per year in 2030
  • Employment losses of 1.2 to 1.8 million in 2020 and 3 to 4 million in 2030
  • Electricity price increases of 28-33 percent by 2020 and 101-129 percent by 2030

While staggering, these numbers are hardly surprising. Imagine the
impact these numbers will have on American families, especially ones
already struggling to pay their electric bills?

Look, it’s possible to develop a federal program that can address the
economic, environmental and energy security needs. Unfortunately, the
Lieberman-Warner bill as it is currently written fulfills only one of
those issues (environmental). Let’s hope that before the bill comes to
the floor of the Senate, the bill’s sponsors make changes to it to
accommodate the other parts of the full equation.


Those Chamber of Commerce ‘Radicals’


Did everyone see this video
on climate change from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? I’m curious to
know what many bloggers would be saying if our organization produced
that spot. If you’re curious, do an Internet search on “ABEC” and
you’ll get the gist. But what are people saying about the Chamber of Commerce for disagreeing with flawed legislation? (Cricket, cricket)

"Climate legislation being considered by Congress could make it more
expensive to heat our homes, power our lives and drive our cars," the
narrator says. ”Is this really how Americans want to live?"

According to a Reuters story, the Chamber of Commerce opposes
"ill-conceived climate change policies and measures that could severely
damage the security and economy of the United States."

So what’s the verdict? Has the Chamber of Commerce lost its mind? Or is
it right? Is legislation that will negatively impact our economy just
for the sake of doing something the best way to go? I’m sure you all know where we stand on this one.


The Clinton Energy Plan, Part Deux


I’ll admit it, I’m a political junkie. I follow politics and I am
fascinated in watching how public opinion shapes public policy. In
watching recent polls, I’ve noticed that the public is becoming
increasingly concerned about “energy security.” In some recent polls,
“energy security” concerns are even higher than concerns about “the
environment” (generically) or “global warming” specifically.

Given the public’s growing concern about energy security issues, I’m
somewhat surprised that Senator Clinton’s energy plan did not do more
to address those very real concerns.

Currently, over 50% of the electricity we use each day comes from
American coal. If you’ve seen our ads, you know that we have more coal
in the U.S. than Saudi Arabia has oil (actually, that’s an
understatement – we have more coal than the Middle East has oil).

However, if regulatory programs that will reduce America’s reliance on
coal become law – our country will become more reliant on imported
energy resources to meet our electricity needs!
a fact, regardless of claims that energy efficiency and Herculean
growth in the use of renewables can replace traditional energy
resources like coal.

Unfortunately, Senator Clinton’s plan is not specific enough to discuss
how she would address these concerns. This obviously has energy
security as well as national security implications.
We think she needs to say more!

But before it appears that we’re coming down too hard on Senator
Clinton for what she did say … let’s be clear that she is the only
presidential that has offered details on this very important issue (at
least thus far in the campaign).

So, like I said yesterday,
Senator Clinton’s plan is a good first draft … but we’ll need to do
better if we’re going to meet America’s growing energy needs and
continue to improve our record of protecting the environment.

To the other presidential candidates, give us a chance to talk more
about your energy plans. Get out there and talk to America about your
energy and environmental policies that will ensure that we keep the
lights on (and keep energy costs affordable) and protect the
environment. We’re waiting to hear from you.


I Give Hillary’s Plan a B-


Did everyone have a chance to read Senator Clinton’s energy plan yet? I
did. Here’s why I’m giving her a B- (we all know she’s an educational
overachiever, so I’m guessing that she’ll be bothered that she didn’t
get an A!).

The good

First, she gets the fact that “technology” is the solution to the
challenge. In most cases, “she’s putting her money where her mouth is”
instead of just telling people that “this will be an easy fix.”

Second… Hillary is talking about an important near-term way we can
address concerns about climate change—storing the greenhouse gases or
what’s called “sequestration.” She proposes funding ten large
geological carbon storage sites—and she favors incenting farmers and
ranchers to use proven methods to store carbon in soil and in plants.

Third, Hillary recognizes that new power plants using coal can’t be
expected to put on carbon capture and storage technologies on that
don’t yet exist. That’s why it is crucial that the federal government
join with the private sector in funding the research, development, and
deployment of these new technologies — and soon.

Hillary is getting a break on the grading curve. At this point, her
competitors in the presidential campaign are getting an incomplete
(come on guys, you have to submit your paper to get a grade). She is
the only one, so far, who has provided real details. This is a big deal
issue that will have a greater effect on the domestic economy (and
therefore American families) than any other set of regulations
considered for quite a long time. So it is reasonable (that’s an
understatement) that folks running for president need to have some
details on how they see the issue playing out.

The “could do better” part

There’s the old political “double speak” about how we will meet
America’s growing energy needs. Senator Clinton places a lot a
confidence in energy efficiency; and, like her, we also embrace using
energy more wisely. However, regardless of how energy efficient you
make a television … it doesn’t get you around the fact that we’re all
plugging in four or five televisions, when several years back it was
one or two televisions per house. I use televisions just as an example
to say we are becoming more energy efficient … but at the same time,
we’re using more energy. So, new coal-based power plants will be
needed. These power plants will meet increased energy demand as well as
replacing older, less efficient power plants.

Also, I’m concern that there is not enough in her plan to protect
families from higher energy costs. I’m particularly concerned about her
plan for 100% auction of the emissions credits for GHG regulations.
Experience from the successful acid rain program show that assigning
credits based upon emissions sources helps to lower the compliance
costs for utilities and those savings ultimately passed along

With oil prices at a record level (and 10% of American households
already paying 50% of their income to cover energy-related
expenditures), having a “safety valve” in any plan to regulate CO2 is
essential to protect families and the economy from substantially higher
energy costs.

As first drafts go, this one shows promise. Let’s hope that Senator
Clinton can add some provisions to look out for working families so I
can give her that “A” I know she’s striving for.

That’s important because climate change is such an key issue —
America can’t afford to support a B- platform. The American public
deserves (and, in fact) will require that whatever policy gets enacted
on this set of issues be an A+ plan.

(Note: Next, I want to share with you some ideas on how I see Senator
Clinton’s plan in relation to energy/national security and her plans
for outreach to the international community on this issue.)