All of the Above Energy

Gas Station

Arkansas’s energy prices are high. The gasoline we put in our cars and trucks and our monthly utility bill eats up a large part of family budgets. Even though gas prices have gone down in recent weeks, families are still feeling financial pressure. A few weeks ago I talked to a factory worker in Mountain Home who spends 20 percent of his income each month on gas. Higher gas and energy costs are forcing Arkansas families to make tough decisions around the kitchen table each month.

In rural communities we drive many miles to work, to the grocery store and to take our children to school. In cities, people walk or take public transit. High gas prices hit rural communities hard simply because we must travel great distances on a regular basis. Additionally, rural communities rely heavily on coal-fired energy to power their homes, businesses and farms. Arkansans and other rural Americans stand to lose when Washington tries to regulate rural energy production instead of creating a responsible national energy policy that works for all American.

Recently, leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency have proposed new rules for power plants that could dramatically increase energy costs for Arkansas families. The EPA is attempting to label coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired powers plants, as a “special waste.” The new label would impose handling and disposal restraints on coal plant operators. Most of Arkansas’ power is generated by coal, and the new coal ash regulations would have a huge financial and operational impact on these plants. It would cost up to $42 million in capital improvements to meet the EPA’s new standards and would raise utility bills for families in our state who are already struggling.

Unfortunately, the EPA is also rejecting clean coal technology and issuing strict standards for new coal-fired electric generating plants. The new standards essentially guarantee no new coal-fired plants will be built.  The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas estimate it would cost $730 million to meet the EPA’s proposed standards. That’s $730 million dollars to be passed on to consumers through their monthly utility bill. At a time when America’s energy needs are increasing, the EPA should not stand in the way of building new power plants.

New energy sources for an “all of the above” energy policy are abundant. The American West is rich with oil shale reserves that can be used to power homes and businesses. Off-shore oil reserves provide a vast domestic energy source. The Keystone XL Pipeline can create thousands of jobs and generate a new source of oil right here in North America.

After months of high gas prices and rising utility bills, Arkansas families need a national energy policy to address our energy needs and protect rural communities from the EPA. Many in Washington have said all options need to be on the table to develop a national energy policy. But their actions are not matching their words. We cannot hope to generate enough power for over 300 million Americans without recognizing the importance of clean-coal technology, natural gas and oil. For Arkansas, an “all of the above” approach must include oil, coal and natural gas.

Arkansas’s energy prices are high. The gasoline we put in our cars and trucks and our monthly utility bill eats up a large part of family budgets. Even though gas prices have gone down in recent weeks, families are still feeling financial pressure. A few weeks ago I talked to a factory worker in Mountain Home who spends 20 percent of his income each month on gas. Higher gas and energy costs are forcing Arkansas families to make tough decisions around the kitchen table each month.

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