1 year ago

Alabama’s coal industry claims ‘victory’ after Trump admin proposes replacement to industry-killing Obama plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday proposed a replacement to the Obama Administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” and Alabama’s coal industry rejoiced, calling the news “a victory for Alabama.”

The replacement, entitled the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by establishing emission guidelines while still allowing the states individually to decide how they will meet the guidelines. The ACE Rule replaced the Obama Administration’s “overly prescriptive and burdensome Clean Power Plan (CPP) and instead empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation,” according to an EPA press release.

When President Trump directed federal agencies to audit burdensome regulations, the EPA began a thorough review of the CPP, which was also blocked from taking effect by the United States Supreme Court.

“The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable and affordable energy for all Americans,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “Today’s proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump’s goal of energy dominance.”

The proposal comes as a major victory for Alabama jobs, as the Obama Administration’s now-repealed rule was viewed as intentionally crippling the coal industry.

An analysis of the Obama CPP by Energy Ventures Analysis forecast that the rule would have forced the closure of 41,000 megawatts of coal-based generating capacity – an amount capable of serving 24 million homes – and cost consumers an estimated additional $214 billion for electricity between 2022 and 2030 and an additional $64 billion for the construction of replacement generating capacity.

Additional projections in the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017 estimated that the CPP would have reduced coal demand by 242 million tons, which in turn would kill 127,000 high-wage jobs across the nation in coal-related direct and indirect employment by 2040.

President Trump has been credited with saving the coal industry. One Alabama miner recently named a new $2.7 million excavator “Trump” as a tribute to the president’s hard work. Alabama’s coal industry supports tens of thousands of people in the state, and its leaders are elated that the Obama Administration’s “War on Coal” is officially over.

“Alabama coal mining has a tremendous economic impact,” Alabama Coal Association President Patrick Cagle told Yellowhammer News.

He explained the many indirect jobs that the state’s coal industry provides besides the 4,000 more-obvious direct jobs.

“Because of all the equipment, the mechanics that repair the equipment and the different modes of transportation that get mined coal to its buyer, the coal industry is a lot more comprehensive than jobs at a mine,” Cagle outlined.

He continued, “All of this is done by local companies. Take, for example, the tires that are continuously needing to be replaced. Six tires for a mining truck run $23,000 a piece. You’re not getting that on Amazon. We’re buying those from local companies, and they’re being installed by local mechanics. So you really have to consider the direct and the indirect economic impact of mining.”

Cagle emphasized the importance of the industry not just on the state, but specifically on local communities.

“Most of Alabama’s coal is mined in areas that don’t have a lot of other economic opportunity going on,” he said.

A key difference between Obama’s CPP and Trump’s ACE is that CPP was a unilateral executive action while ACE works within the parameters established by Congress through the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions.

“EPA has an important role when it comes to addressing the CO2 from our nation’s power plants,” Assistant EPA Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum said in a press release. “The ACE rule would fulfill this role in a manner consistent with the structure of the Clean Air Act while being equally respectful of its bounds.”

No matter what gnashing of the teeth occurs by liberal members of the media, it is important to note that the Trump Administration’s proposed rule – ACE – will still significantly reduce emissions and possibly result in higher reductions than CPP would have. Most importantly for the Yellowhammer State, it does so in a way that provides flexibility and allows for common sense.

“The Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy plan gives the flexibility to determine how to implement the rule as required by the Clean Air Act, as opposed to President Obama’s one-size-fits-all approach that treated each state the same,” Cagle explained.

He added, “Each state’s energy mix is a little different. States like Alabama should be able to factor in that the coal produced here that is used to generate electricity provides our state with energy security. And that should be taken into account when determining the future of power plants burning Alabama coal.”

The EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register and will also hold a public hearing. More information, including a fact sheet, is available here.

What’s the bottom line for Alabama?

“This is a victory for Alabama and all the businesses and families that depend on affordable and reliable energy,” Cagle concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Ivey visits hometown Camden to commemorate bicentennial — ‘Y’all, Alabama has come a long way’

CAMDEN — On Friday, on the eve of the culmination of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration set to take place in Montgomery, Gov. Kay Ivey paid a visit to her hometown to take part in an event marking the milestone in her home county of Wilcox.

Not far from where Ivey attended high school as part of Wilcox County High School’s class of 1963, the governor participated in a ceremony that also included Camden Mayor Bill Creswell and Wilcox County Commissioner Bill Albritton.

After offering a list of the state’s achievements, Ivey remarked on how far Alabama had come.

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“During these 200 years, Alabama has celebrated some pretty incredible people and milestones,” she said. “Building a rocket that took a man to the moon, our rich Native American history and culture, becoming the birthplace for civil rights, and becoming an international market for goods and products. Y’all, Alabama has come a long way.”

She also noted that the events leading up to the bicentennial celebration kicked almost immediately after she assumed the role governor in 2017 and led her to make at least one visit in all of Alabama’s 67 counties.

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

While speaking to the press at the return to her hometown, Ivey expressed how great she felt about being back in her hometown and what her goals were as the state heads into its third century.

“We’re proud to be here in Wilcox County and in my hometown of Camden to celebrate the bicentennial of Wilcox County, and tomorrow we’ll celebrate the bicentennial of Alabama. It is sure great to be home,” Ivey stated.

“Certainly, we want to keep the economy going, keep the everybody working, get more people that are not working to work,” she continued. “We just want to make the quality of life in our state really good, so everybody has an opportunity to be and do what they want to do.”

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Ivey also offered some words of advice for her hometown and county in the pursuit of a better quality of life.

“Y’all just make this place an attractive place to live and do business, have a strong education system so people can put their children in schools, then in touch with the Department of Commerce to get prospects to look us over,” she said.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

11 hours ago

Three Crimson Tide players, Auburn’s Derrick Brown named Walter Camp All-Americans

University of Alabama football players Xavier McKinney, Jaylen Waddle and Jedrick Wills, Jr. have been named to the Walter Camp All-America second-team, while Auburn University’s Derrick Brown made the first-team.

McKinney is a safety, Waddle is a wide receiver selected to the team as a returner on special teams, Wills is an offensive tackle and Brown is a defensive tackle.

The Walter Camp Foundation announced the honors Thursday evening at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

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McKinney, a junior, ranked 12th in the SEC in tackles with 85 through 12 games. He was also the Crimson Tide leader in tackles this season, including 4.5 for loss and two sacks. He forced four fumbles and added three interceptions to go with five pass breakups and four quarterback hurries. The star defensive back also returned one of his interceptions for an 81-yard touchdown.

Waddle led the nation in punt return average at 24.9 yards per return with 19 for 474 yards and a touchdown, including a long of 77. The sophomore also returned four kickoffs for 152 yards and one score and added more than 53 yards and six touchdowns on 32 catches at wideout this season. Earlier this week, he was selected as a first team All-American at returner by Pro Football Focus and named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.

Wills anchored an offensive line that has surrendered only 12 sacks in 381 pass attempts this season. He graded out at over 91% for the Tide along the front allowing only one sack all season and only 3.5 quarterback hurries while missing only seven assignments in 714 snaps for a success rate of 99.9%.

Brown had a monster season on the defensive side of the ball and landed as a finalist for just about every national award possible. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by both the conference coaches and The Associated Press.

This is the 130th edition of the Walter Camp All-America team, the nation’s oldest such team.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Marshall applauds federal court ruling that plaintiffs challenging Alabama’s minimum wage law lack standing

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State of Alabama on Friday, saying that the plaintiffs challenging Alabama’s 2016 minimum wage law lacked standing to file their racial discrimination claim against the Alabama Attorney General.

The law being challenged holds that no Alabama municipality can raise its minimum wage higher than the state of Alabama’s minimum wage. The law was enacted by the state legislature after Birmingham attempted to raise the minimum wage paid by businesses in the city to $10.1o per hour. The minimum wage in Alabama is $7.25 an hour. Twenty-two states have similar laws to the one on Alabama’s books.

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In response to Alabama’s new law, the plaintiffs in question from Friday’s ruling filed a civil rights action in federal court arguing the law perpetuated white supremacy and violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Notably, the court did not rule on whether the equal protection claim had merit, but rather ruled that the suit was wrongfully being brought because their alleged damages were not “fairly traceable” to conduct by the AG.

“I am pleased with the 11th Circuit’s ruling today, which agreed with the State of Alabama that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue the Attorney General over their complaints about Alabama’s minimum wage law,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall.  “I also think the substance of the plaintiffs’ challenge lacked merit, but the court withheld judgment on that question because the plaintiffs failed to show that the Attorney General ever harmed them.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

13 hours ago

Black Belt Workforce Center opens in Demopolis

Private and public officials gathered in Demopolis Friday to announce the opening of the Black Belt Workforce Center.

The center will provide training for job seekers and employers, job application assistance, resume help and a computer lab. The center will also provide retraining and retooling for job seekers who were previously in the workforce but need help competing for the jobs available today.

“We knew that we needed to serve some of our most critical areas in Alabama by creating a center in the Black Belt. This is a place for both job hunters and employers to find resources to help them succeed,” said West Alabama Works Executive Director Donny Jones.

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The center is a collaboration between West Alabama Works, the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC), Central Alabama Works, and numerous governmental and nonprofit stakeholders in the area. It will be helmed by Tammi Holley.

The center is very close to the Alabama Department of Labor’s facility in the area, a department with which the training center plans to work in concert.

Jim Page is the CEO of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, which houses West Alabama Works.

He told Yellowhammer, “Even though Alabama has got a very strong economy right now and we’ve got record low unemployment, there are still far too many people who are unemployed or underemployed.”

“A major reason for that is the lack of education, lack of training, and lack of certain skill sets needed to compete for jobs, or to get a better job. We’ve long felt it important to go into our more rural areas, particularly the black belt, to make the resources more readily available closer to the people, and meet them where they are,” Page added.

Unique among workforce development initiatives in Alabama is the partnership with a local drug prevention organization: The Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE). The Tuscaloosa-based PRIDE plans to work with the center to help increase drug prevention efforts in the surrounding community.

“One of the biggest problems that workforce development has is keeping kids where they can pass a drug screening,” Derrick Osborne, the Executive Director of PRIDE told Yellowhammer on the phone.

According to Osborne, PRIDE is “trying to help people understand addiction before they become addicted.”

He added, “We want to say, you don’t have to use a drug because you feel like there isn’t anywhere for you to go. There is hope, there are things to look forward to in your life.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

14 hours ago

Watch: Alabamians line up with American flags to welcome slain Naval ensign home

As seen in a video posted on Twitter, people lined the streets of Enterprise on Friday to welcome home Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, a 23-year-old Coffee County native who also spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in last week’s shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The hero’s body arrived at Dothan Regional Airport on Friday and then a procession took him to Searcy Funeral Home in Enterprise.

Considering Fort Rucker’s presence, the area has a high percentage of military families, making Watson’s murder that much harder on the Wiregrass community. People lined the procession route with American flags, honoring his service, sacrifice and life.

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A public memorial service for Watson will take place at the Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center at 11:00 a.m. next Saturday, December 21.

Burial will be the following day at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. Governor Kay Ivey has ordered flags to half-staff on that day of internment: Sunday, December 22.

RELATED: How the hometown of a NAS Pensacola shooting hero is paying tribute to one of their own

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn