Aug
20
2014

America’s Electric Cooperatives Keep the Lights On

The following is a special guest blog by Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

More than 600 pages plus another 1,000 of supporting documents. That’s the length of the latest EPA proposal. It would use the Clean Air Act (only 465 pages) to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power plants on which we rely today and impose new costs on energy consumers.

Jo Ann Emerson

At its core, the EPA’s proposal leaves electric cooperative member-owners holding the keys to fully functional power plants that have been shut down by Washington bureaucrats. Rather than picking winners and losers, the EPA should go back to the drawing board and work with us on common-sense solutions.

America’s Electric Cooperatives are dedicated to keeping electricity affordable and reliable for our 42 million member-owners across the nation. Together, co-ops serve 93 percent of the persistent poverty counties in America – those communities who can least afford to pay more each month.  We cannot allow them to get lost in the pages and pages of this EPA proposal.

Much has been written about the legality, feasibility and complexity of this rule, but its true danger lurks just below the surface. Lost in the shuffle of thousands of pages is the impact this rule will have on the American people – in the form of new mandates, higher costs, restrictions on energy choices, and tremendous uncertainty for communities and consumers. How much will electric bills increase? Will manufacturers relocate? How many jobs will be lost? Which power plants will be forced to shut down?

That’s a lot of difficult questions – especially when the total global CO2 reductions barely move the needle. But we’re asking important questions because the EPA’s shortsighted plan stands to adversely impact millions of Americans.

That’s why we keep reminding the bureaucrats in Washington, DC, that the rules they write impact real people in the real world – where we live. That’s why we’ve encouraged everyone to take 30 seconds to speak out at www.TellEPA.com and tell the EPA we cannot afford these regulations.

Nearly 800,000 Americans have already joined in this effort, and thousands more sign up each day. Together, we can remind regulators and lawmakers that the impact of new rules and laws on us in the real world should be their first thought, not their last. Join us and sign up today at www.TellEPA.com.

Aug
18
2014

Letter Blurs Lines of EPA Carbon Rule

The following op-ed appeared yesterday on AL.com, in response to an August 12th open letter from GASP Director Stacie Propst.

Unless you’ve been on a musical boycott for the past year, you’ve no doubt heard the ubiquitous number-one hit laid down by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. With its irresistible bass line and sing-along lyrics, the song is difficult to forget. Thicke and Williams aren’t the only ones blurring the lines this summer, though. In an August 12th open letter to PSC Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh, Stacie Propst of GASP continues to create confusion about the intent and consequences of EPA’s new carbon dioxide mandate.

While it would be easy to read Propst’s letter as an attack on Alabama’s PSC Chairman, it’s more of an attack on reason. In an unprecedented display of regulatory discretion, EPA has proposed, and plans to implement, the first-ever limit on the emission of carbon dioxide in U.S. history. Armed with a Supreme Court determination that upholds the argument that carbon dioxide leads to climate change and therefore endangers public health, EPA has set out optimistic reduction goals for the states that will require serious changes to our energy infrastructure, especially in Alabama. The rule is intended to combat climate change, but Propst and others see it as a cure-all for everything from heart attacks to asthma.

The casual reader might be rightfully confused. Consider that EPA Chief Gina McCarthy testified last year to Congress that EPA’s carbon dioxide proposal would not have any impact on climate change indicators. Yes, zero measurable impact. Consider also that the substances Propst connects to public health – particulate matter and ozone – are already aggressively regulated by EPA, with a new, more stringent ozone rule coming as early as next year. Finally, consider that asthma rates in the U.S. have tripled in the past thirty years at the same that air quality and ozone measures have improved drastically. In short, Propst asserts that “carbon pollution” is linked to asthma, but it isn’t.

This sort of bait-and-switch is nothing new. A year ago, standing before the PSC, Propst said her organization was involved in the commission’s public hearings because power rates in the state are too high (despite no evidence that is true). In communications to her members, however, Propst said the hearings were a way to force changes to air quality regulations. That sort of misdirection, stating one purpose while secretly pursuing another, or conflating carbon dioxide with asthma, serves no purpose other than to blur the lines of public debate.

Propst, just like Commissioner Cavanaugh, is subject to her opinion, but it is important that readers have the wisdom and the facts to know which connections are valid and which aren’t. She believes that EPA’s new carbon rules will have major health benefits, but we and many others believe such estimates are simply more smoke and mirrors from an agency with a history of overstating the benefits and downplaying the harmful consequences of its regulations.

Aug
13
2014

Former Energy Official Speaks Out On EPA Carbon Rule

Last month, PACE testified at the EPA hearing in Atlanta about the proposed carbon rule for existing power plants. The focus of our message was to pull back the curtain on EPA’s claims of the rule’s potential benefits for the environment and the public health. We believed it was important to expose what EPA is not telling the American people: that the proposed rule will not affect climate change or the environment in any measurable way. Its only purpose is to gain political leverage around the world. Now, a former Assistant Secretary of Energy under the Obama administration is exposing the proposed rule for what it really is – all pain, no gain.

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Chuck McConnell is Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University and was an Assistant Secretary of Energy at the Department of Energy from 2011 to 2013. He recently wrote a blog for The Hill after testifying in D.C. before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. His message to the committee was clear. Despite EPA’s claims, the rule will have no effect on CO2 levels or climate change, but it will significantly downgrade reliability and raise power rates.

Read McConnell’s Blog Here

McConnell testified that, at best, the rule would result in a 0.18 reduction in global CO2 by 2030, a 0.01degree impact in global temperature, and a lessening of global sea rise by an amount equal to one-third the thickness of a dime. In the op-ed, McConnell refers to EPA chief Gina McCarthy’s testimony to the House in 2013, in which she admitted that the rule will not affect climate change and said the rule’s purpose is “political leverage” and “climate change leadership.”

“The rest of the world must be both amused and dumbfounded by the arrogance and naivete of that point of view,” McConnell wrote. “First, the arrogance of the U.S. leveraging compliance with the rest of the world, but dumbfounded that such a policy would be considered by the U.S. that will so obviously damage the U.S. economy and global competitiveness.”

McConnell believes the rule’s impact on energy reliability and affordability will be heavy. He is concerned with the lack of study and research on EPA’s part and the fact that the rule will take its heaviest toll on the six states that produce the bulk of the U.S. energy supply.

“We will all pay for this – and pay dearly,” McConnell wrote. “Reliability will be impacted, and there have been no interagency collaborative studies to support infrastructure requirements or system performance capability. Affordability will be impacted. On average, the American consumer will pay two times more for power, and in those six states [that produce the most power] – three times or four times more.”

According to McConnell, there is a path for the U.S. to sustain energy reliability and affordability, while still being environmentally responsible. His solution is to stop over-subsidizing expensive and unreliable choices like wind and solar and invest in clean fossil fuel technology.

“We need to invest in clean coal technology and clean natural gas facilities,” he wrote. “We need to capture CO2 and use it for benefit in enhanced oil recovery where we can provide a technology platform through which the rest of the world can benefit from our transformative ingenuity. We need to deploy conservation and a true all-of-the-above approach with the best we have to offer ourselves and the rest of the world in the form of clean advanced technologies.”