Tags: Obama Administration

Straight talk on coal


Today’s Wall Street Journal has a little Q&A with Greg Boyce, CEO of Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest (by output) coal company. Here’s a portion of the interview:

WSJ: Can you improve the image of coal?

Mr. Boyce: Explain to everyone how much electricity today depends on coal. I mentioned to folks here in the U.S. that we still get 42% of our electricity on coal. And they say, “Wait a minute. I thought we stopped using coal.”

WSJ: What do you say to people who say coal is dirty?

Mr. Boyce: Since 1970, coal use has increased almost 200%, yet the emissions from coal have been reduced by almost 90%. Technology has reduced what used to be the standard emissions for coal—sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury and particulates—so the next wave of technology is what do we do to try to decarbonize and try to reduce the CO2 from coal.

WSJ: But what if Americans are willing to pay more for clean energy?

Mr. Boyce: We have 115 million U.S. citizens that qualify for some kind of low-income energy assistance. We already have a third of the population that can’t afford their utility bills. If there are people who want to use boutique and high-priced energy and can afford it, that’s great. But many people can’t even afford what we already have.

WSJ: Does the Obama administration really have a “war on coal,” as many in the coal industry allege?

Mr. Boyce: They just don’t like fossil fuels. But there are no replacements for fossil fuels at scale, at affordability. [The Environmental Protection Agency said there was no war on any fossil fuel. "We see coal continuing to be a third of our energy mix after these rules are implemented," a spokeswoman said.]

WSJ: The EPA has proposed rules to curb climate change by drastically cutting power-plant CO2 emissions. How will that affect you?

Mr. Boyce: It’s too early to tell. All I know is just about everybody doesn’t like them.Many states have already passed some kind of resolution or law saying, “Hey these aren’t going to work for us.” About 80% of U.S. businesses are saying this doesn’t make sense. The devastation in terms of electricity rates will not be tolerable.

Tags: Coal , EPA , Obama Administration

Taxpayer-Saved Automaker Asks Court to Bar Lawsuits Over Defective Switches


Aren’t we all glad that U.S. taxpayers lost $10.5 billion saving this company?

General Motors Co filed a motion in a U.S. bankruptcy court to enforce a bar on lawsuits related to ignition defects in cars sold before its 2009 bankruptcy as it fights a class action lawsuit that seeks to set aside the restriction.

The argument of General Motors is that legally, they’re the “new G.M.,” freed from the liabilities of the “old G.M.” The plaintiffs will argue that the usual bankruptcy liability protections are null and void if a company withholds key information during the bankruptcy process — i.e., the fact that they’ve made millions of cars with a potentially lethal defect.

The taxpayer bailout is being cited by the plaintiffs as a supporting argument for letting the lawsuits proceed:

GM’s argument suggests that the U.S. Government would have agreed to extend $40 billion of taxpayer money for GM’s restructuring, and supported shielding it from liability through the sale order, had it known of GM’s intentional misconduct.

(Well . . . if the whole purpose of the bailout was to help the administration’s allies in the United Auto Workers, can we really be sure that it wouldn’t?)

This morning, President Obama’s “auto czar,” Steve Rattner, who ran the bailout, was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe . . . talking about income inequality, not GM.

Tags: GM , Obama Administration

Christie’s Spokesman: ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ Approved by Obama Administration


Governor Chris Christie’s deputy communications director, Colin Reed, issues a statement about the “Stronger Than the Storm” campaign that . . . er, cites the Campaign Spot:

Good Morning –

If you’re reporting on the “conveniently-timed announcement” from Congressman Pallone this morning, please see the following on-the-record response from me:

“The Stronger Than The Storm campaign was just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama Administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy. Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”

Attached for your background is the relevant section of the Action Plan showing what the Obama Administration approved in connection with the tourism marketing campaign.

Further, the effectiveness of the ad campaign has already been praised by the Obama Administration at a Senate hearing last November:

In November 2013, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Said These Campaigns “Are Effective In Growing Economic Development In Those Areas And Therefore They Actually Reduce The Cost Of Recovery To The Federal Government”

SECRETARY SHAUN DONOVAN: “. . . There has been an effort in a number of states, not just in Sandy, but historically as well in many, many prior storms to encourage economic development and we did see a small amount of CDBG money that was used for an economic development campaign to encourage people back to the beaches. . . . The evidence that we have seen is that those campaigns are effective in growing economic development in those areas and therefore they actually reduce the cost of recovery to the federal government. . . . The Community Development Block Grant is a very flexible program. This is clearly within the legal boundaries of what Congress has determined the program can be used for and it was demonstrated to us that this could be an effective tool and actually lower the cost to the federal government.” (Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Hurricane Sandy, 11/6/13)

New Jersey Voters And Business Leaders Also Praised The Ad Campaign

63 Percent Of New Jerseyans Believe It Is Appropriate For The Governor To Appear In The Stronger Than The Storm Ads. (Monmouth University Poll, 8/21/13)

Robert Hilton, Executive Director Of The Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau: “It’s good that we have the campaign. We have a message and it’s strong, and people will see that we’re open for business after Sandy despite what they’ve believed,” said Hilton, who added that featuring Christie will help draw tourists because “his popularity is going to help us.” (Bob Jordan, “N.J. governor gets star billing in state’s tourism ads,” Asbury Park Press, 5/20/13)

The Associated Press: “Tourism promoters say the state’s advertising campaign to let people know the Jersey shore was open for business this year was good. . . . Numerous tourism officials all said they liked New Jersey’s ‘Stronger Than The Storm’ ads, featuring Gov. Chris Christie. . . . The tourism promoters did not blame the state for starting the ads too late. But they did say a new campaign needs to be rolled out as soon as possible.” (Wayne Parry, “Marketers: NJ post-Sandy ads good but too late,” Associated Press, 12/12/13)

Finally, Jim Geraghty over at NRO notes the interesting timing of this whole incident:

Could somebody please mention this to that ninny who spent last week insisting I was on a crusade to destroy Christie on behalf of Ted Cruz?

UPDATE: Representative Frank Pallone responds:

Pallone dismissed the assertions of a Christie spokesman that the announcement about the inquiry was “conveniently-timed,” an apparent reference to the revelations that one of the governor’s top aides was involved in a conspiracy to close lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for what appears to have been political purposes. The congressman said he was informed of the audit in recent days and said there was “no correlation” between the two subjects.

To clarify, the HUD inspector general is asked to investigate back in August . . . four months pass . . . the HUD IG informs Pallone that the investigation will go forward “in recent days” as the bridge controversy dominates national news, and Pallone concludes that means there’s “no correlation”?

Tags: Chris Christie , HUD , Obama Administration

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