Posts tagged President Obama

Clean coal can create new jobs, preserve existing ones

As President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union address last week, sources of electricity production like wind, solar, natural gas and renewable and clean coal are inexorable parts of this country’s energy future as a way to create green jobs. For the United States to achieve energy independence and to lead the global marketplace in clean energy jobs, all of our energy resources must be part of the solution.

By investing in energy innovations such as clean coal technology, we can preserve the good jobs we already have and expand the American workforce for decades to come.

According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, if coal production was to disappear completely, more than $1 trillion of gross output – including 6.8 million jobs – would be lost directly and indirectly from the economy of the contiguous United States in 2015.

Compare that to the landscape with the deployment of clean coal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) on a commercial scale.

Constructing 100 power plants equipped with CCS could generate up to $1 trillion of economic output and create between 5 and 7 million man-years of employment and a quarter of a million permanent jobs, as reported by BBC Research and Consulting in a 2009 study.

As you can see, keeping coal in our nation’s energy mix allows for economic growth helps to protect the environment all while ensuring the many valuable American jobs that coal already has provided.

Note: These studies were commissioned by ACCCE.


State of the Union and clean coal technology

"That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies." – President Obama from his January 27, 2010 State of the Union address

During my time at ACCCE we have been very clear on two points when it comes to providing low-cost, environmentally-friendly electricity to meet future demands: 1) We will need all forms of electricity production to accomplish that goal; 2) clean coal technologies must be a major part of the discussion.

Last night the president once again reiterated his campaign messaging that clean coal technologies must be part of this country’s energy future. Is there really anyone that can now argue that the president doesn’t fully understand the need to fund clean coal projects? If so, I’d love to hear that point of view (Jeff Biggers, I’m looking your way).

But for all the issues on which our two main political parties disagree, it’s clear that there are a few things democrats and republicans do agree on. Let’s take a look at what Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had to say in his response to the State of the Union: “Advances in technology can unleash more natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal and alternative energy to lower your utility bills.”

Last night’s speech was a call for national unity, and from what I was able to determine, it was a call for unity on all the issues—not just a handful of items.

So, with that in mind, it’s time for groups that are adamantly opposed to the use of coal to produce electricity to come to grips with the simple fact that we will use coal in this country for a long time to come.

Here’s hoping that those opposed to coal-based electricity will take the president’s speech to heart and lend their voice (or, at least, refrain from being an obstacle) when it comes to ensuring proper funding for the technologies that allow the use of our most domestically abundant baseload fuel source, while preserving the environment.

Complex issues require bipartisan support, and if last night is any indication, this is one issue both parties can agree on.


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.


Copenhagen: What matters to China

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This year, we’ll need to pay close attention to China’s energy and environmental agenda during the U.N. Climate Change Conference. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and many of its interests are closely tied to the United States.

Here's a partial list of China's climate goals for Copenhagen:

Gain assistance from developed countries: According to Xinhua News Agency, the government has repeatedly said that developed nations should honor their commitments to support developing countries with funding and technology.

Work with the United States to develop clean technologies: As President Obama said during his recent trip to China, "There can be no solution to this [climate change] challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States." Both sides agreed to create a joint clean energy research center and develop, among other things, ways to use clean coal technologies, electric vehicles and shale gas, reported the Vancouver Sun.

Reducing future emissions: Chinese President Hu Jintao’s government announced last week that China would reduce its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels in the coming decade, reports E&E News.The International Energy Agency cautioned that China was already projected to reach that goal in the next decade anyway, according to the news report. However, others lauded the proposal, noting that the IEA forecast also contemplates “serious investments” by China to boost energy intensity.

As with the U.S., many of China’s goals are tied to clean energy innovation. And by partnering with the U.S. to develop, export and deploy these cutting-edge technologies, we’re confident both countries can reduce greenhouse gases more quickly and provide long-term solutions for our global neighbors.


It’s a short leap from the economy to energy

Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville made news during the 1992 presidential campaign when he coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid”. Today, more than 17 years later, Carville’s advice is still one that politicians need to heed.

Opinion surveys have shown that jobs and the economy are a top concern for voters and the American public. The Obama administration and other Washington leaders are clearly sharing that concern, and that is why today we are following the president’s job summit. And as we’ve said before, issues of the economy and energy are closely related. Here are some key facts that you might not be aware of.

First, low-cost energy is also essential to keeping Americans employed. According to Economy.com’s 2008 North American Business Cost Review, energy costs are second only to labor costs in determining the viability of a business in a given location.

A 2006 study conducted by Pennsylvania State University looked at the value of coal to a state’s economy. That analysis of the study showed that in 2015, U.S. coal production, transportation and access to low-cost electricity produced by American coal would contribute more than $1 trillion of gross output directly and indirectly to the economy of the lower 48 United States.

The Penn State study showed that $362 billion of household income and 6.8 million U.S. jobs will be attributed to the production, transportation and jobs in energy consuming industries that rely on low-cost electricity by 2015. The Penn State study was broken down to show the economic benefits in specific states, and as you can see, states that have the lowest electricity prices (due to the reliance on American coal) have the greatest economic benefits in terms of economic output, greater household income, and jobs.

So as President Obama meets with leaders to discuss jobs, let’s first begin with talking about how to keep Americans who are currently working. That strategy will need to focus on keeping energy costs affordable. And, at one-third the cost of other fuels, America’s low-cost energy option is coal.


Copenhagen 101: U.N. Climate Change Conference

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After months of anticipation, world leaders will finally converge at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to set goals for a global climate treaty that reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

The annual conference, which is being held in Copenhagen, Denmark from Dec. 7-18, is the biggest international meeting on climate change since the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate agreement entered into by 37 countries in 2005.

Many news reports a few weeks ago indicated that the prospect of an historic agreement in Copenhagen – once seen as promising – was unlikely. According to an article in Greenwire in early November, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that she viewed this year’s conference as a “steppingstone” to a political agreement rather than a legally binding treaty.

However, President Obama’s announcement last week that he would go to Copenhagen – and pledge U.S. emissions reductions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the next decade – might change the possible outcomes.

A day after Obama’s call, China announced that it would slash its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels over the same period of time, E&E News reported. But there is uncertainty over how sufficient that reduction would be.

Before Obama’s announcement, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said he remained hopeful that significant progress could be achieved on key issues, laying the framework for a potential treaty.

In an Associated Press article from mid-November, de Boer outlined three crucial points to the meeting’s success:

1. “Industrialized nations ‘must record in black and white’ their individual targets to reduce emissions. ‘And that list of targets must, of course, include the United States.’”


2. “The Copenhagen deal must clarify ‘the scope and extent of developing country engagement.’”


3. “[Copenhagen] must provide specifics on how rich nations will provide financial support on a long and short-term basis for poorer countries to prepare and adapt to climate change … rich countries must put at least $10 billion on the table.”

As you see, every country, rich and poor, has something at stake at the conference.

Over the next few days, we’ll discuss the different expectations and interests that China, India, the United States, Africa and Europe hope to carry out in the weeks ahead.

There are bound to be plenty of developments leading up to the start of Copenhagen – and during the conference – so stay tuned here.

Especially in light of Obama’s announcement that he’s attending the conference, we’d like to get your impressions about what might come out of Copenhagen. Let us hear it in the comments.


‘We’ve got to get back into the business of making stuff’

The lack of government investment in energy research is increasing the risk to national security and hindering the creation of breakthrough energy technologies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield told Bloomberg News last week.

As we approach Veterans Day, her message could not have rung truer. Hockfield said that the Obama administration’s request for $6.7 billion in U.S. energy-research funds “isn’t enough to move the U.S. toward energy independence.” (Her institution was the site of President Obama’s speech last month to highlight the nation’s need for clean energy.)

In order to create this technology, the government needs to invest in the research and development. And private industry wants to pitch in and lend a helping hand to its innovation.

More funding could build more robust public-private partnerships. Companies behind carbon capture and storage projects, such as Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, Va., and American Electric Power’s Mountaineer project in New Haven, W.Va., are already seeking federal stimulus funding to ensure more efficient generation of our most abundant energy supply.

Investing in our domestic energy supply – as Hockfield stressed – is essential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.

But first, she said, “We’ve got to get back into the business of making stuff.” We agree.


We hope Obama’s clean energy message inspires movement toward CCT


This afternoon, President Obama is scheduled to deliver an address on clean energy to an audience of students and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As he speaks about the nation’s energy future, we will listen for his support of clean coal technology (CCT) and the placement of affordable energy costs for consumers.

Congress has included provisions in the climate legislation to fund CCT, and we are also encouraged by recent remarks from U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu supporting carbon capture and sequestration initiatives. At the end of the day, we hope Obama’s speech inspires lawmakers to support a bill that will create an innovative and cost-effective energy plan, bring CCT to the global marketplace and secure our energy independence by relying on coal to meet our growing energy demands.