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Betsy Monseu, Paul Kealey, Becky Blood, Betsy Mullins.

Betsy Monseu, president and CEO of the American Coal Council.
National Journal
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Mike Magner
July 25, 2014, 1 a.m.

Betsy Mon­seau

Betsy Monseu, president and CEO of the American Coal Council. (Chet Susslin) National Journal

The coal-in­dustry cham­pi­on says EPA’s cli­mate-change ap­proach will back­fire.

Seated in her spartan of­fice in the old Even­ing Star build­ing on Pennsylvania Av­en­ue, Betsy Mon­seu, the CEO of the Amer­ic­an Coal Coun­cil, is primed for battle. “Coal and fossil fuels have con­trib­uted to a very stable eco­nomy in this coun­try — stable elec­tric rates and the abil­ity for our man­u­fac­tur­ers and busi­nesses to be com­pet­it­ive,” Mon­seu says. “What hap­pens if these rules get im­ple­men­ted? What hap­pens to man­u­fac­tur­ers when their elec­tric rates skyrock­et? Well, they’re … go­ing to go some­place else, which isn’t good for Amer­ica, and maybe they end up go­ing to a more car­bon-in­tens­ive eco­nomy. That doesn’t con­trib­ute to glob­al solu­tions.”

The rules to which she refers, of course, are those aimed at re­du­cing green­house gases from coal-fired power plants, part of the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency’s reg­u­lat­ory ap­proach to ad­dress­ing cli­mate change.

“We’re really talk­ing about man­aging our whole elec­tric grid in this coun­try dif­fer­ently,” Mon­seu ar­gues. “That has huge im­plic­a­tions. I don’t even think we can un­der­stand what all those im­plic­a­tions are right now.”

Mon­seu says that the planned con­trols on car­bon emis­sions, com­bined with reg­u­la­tions for oth­er air­borne emis­sions already on the books, will likely cause a one-third re­duc­tion in U.S. coal-gen­er­at­ing ca­pa­city, which cur­rently ac­counts for 40 per­cent of the na­tion’s elec­tri­city. “That’s huge,” she says. “It has ma­jor im­pacts, ob­vi­ously, on the in­dustry. But it will also have sig­ni­fic­ant, huge im­pacts as far as our eco­nomy, as far as Amer­ic­an fam­il­ies and man­u­fac­tur­ers and busi­nesses who con­sume elec­tri­city.”

Mon­seu, 57, seems well suited to lead the Amer­ic­an Coal Coun­cil, which has about 165 mem­bers “cov­er­ing the en­tire coal-value chain — min­ing com­pan­ies, coal sup­pli­ers, trans­port­a­tion com­pan­ies who handle coal, and coal-sup­port ser­vices, in­clud­ing leg­al firms, con­sult­ants, and so on,” she says. Mon­seu has worked in most of those sec­tors.

After grow­ing up in Spring­field, Illinois, and gradu­at­ing from Illinois Col­lege in nearby Jack­son­ville, Mon­seu star­ted her ca­reer in budget­ing, plan­ning, and fuel-pur­chas­ing for Cent­ral Illinois Pub­lic Ser­vice. She moved to Den­ver with her hus­band in 1990 and went to work for the South­ern Pa­cific Rail­road as man­ager of coal-mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, gain­ing ex­per­i­ence on the trans­port­a­tion side of the in­dustry. In 1994, she got in­to the min­ing busi­ness with Cyprus Amax Coal, which later be­came Found­a­tion Coal and then Al­pha Nat­ur­al Re­sources.

In May 2013, Mon­seu moved to the Amer­ic­an Coal Coun­cil, suc­ceed­ing Janet Gel­lici, who had led the or­gan­iz­a­tion for 30 years. “Lit­er­ally with­in weeks after I came on board, Pres­id­ent Obama spoke at Geor­getown and set out his cli­mate ac­tion plan,” Mon­seu says. “So that really set the stage for our view of how we should spend our time and fo­cus our re­sources.”

Cli­mate-change reg­u­la­tions aren’t the only is­sue fa­cing the coal in­dustry, she notes, but they are cer­tainly “the most press­ing is­sue.”

Mon­seu be­lieves that EPA’s “pre­script­ive” ap­proach — giv­ing the states lim­ited choices for achiev­ing car­bon-re­duc­tion tar­gets — should be re­placed with one that en­cour­ages new tech­no­lo­gies that would en­able the coun­try to bet­ter use one of its most abund­ant nat­ur­al re­sources. “These rules ac­tu­ally in­hib­it that tech­no­logy de­vel­op­ment,” she says. “What com­pany is go­ing to be able or be fin­anced to take on those kinds of pro­jects? In an en­vir­on­ment where coal use is de­clin­ing, we’re not build­ing new gen­er­a­tion, and are re­tir­ing ex­ist­ing gen­er­a­tion. That’s a self-de­feat­ing ap­proach, in our opin­ion, and we would greatly prefer to see sup­port for in­nov­at­ive tech­no­lo­gies.”

Mon­seu doesn’t deny that cli­mate change needs to be ad­dressed, but she be­lieves the en­ergy in­dustry, with the right in­cent­ives, can find solu­tions.

“As I think about this from the stand­point of be­ing a par­ent, and hav­ing kids who are get­ting ready to make their way in the world, I want them to be able to ob­tain good jobs,” she says. “And the en­ergy in­dustry has been a great place to have a job in this coun­try.”

IN­TEREST GROUPS

Na­tion­al Low In­come Hous­ing Co­ali­tion

Paul Kealey, new chief operating officer at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Paul Kealey, new chief op­er­at­ing of­ficer at the Na­tion­al Low In­come Hous­ing Co­ali­tion. (Chet Suss­lin)One of the most over­looked is­sues in Wash­ing­ton is the hous­ing crisis fa­cing poor Amer­ic­ans; there is a short­age of 7 mil­lion units for the na­tion’s low­est-in­come cit­izens, says Paul Kealey, newly in­stalled as chief op­er­at­ing of­ficer at the Na­tion­al Low In­come Hous­ing Co­ali­tion. Kealey, 57, joined the co­ali­tion in June, after 12 years with Neigh­bor­Works Amer­ica, which sup­ports com­munity groups. Be­fore that, the Fair­field, Con­necti­c­ut, nat­ive spent nearly 12 years in the Peace Corps, two years with the World Wild­life Fund (as dir­ect­or of op­er­a­tions in Lat­in Amer­ica and the Carib­bean), and two years at the Cor­por­a­tion for Na­tion­al and Com­munity Ser­vice, also known as Ameri­Corps/VISTA. Now he is fo­cused en­tirely on “pro­mot­ing so­cially just pub­lic policy, so people with the low­est in­comes have safe, af­ford­able homes,” Kealey says. “This situ­ation is dire and just get­ting worse. … For every one [unit] built for af­ford­able hous­ing, two are com­ing off the mar­ket. And since the fin­an­cial col­lapse, rents have been rising.”

LOBBY SHOPS

Wexler & Walk­er

Becky Blood has moved from the Hill to join former Rep. Robert Walker's lobbying firm, Wexler & Walker. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Becky Blood has moved from the Hill to join former Rep. Robert Walk­er’s lob­by­ing firm, Wexler & Walk­er. (Chet Suss­lin)Becky Blood knew she wanted to get in­to pub­lic policy after grow­ing up in Three Rivers, Michigan, and gradu­at­ing from Michigan State Uni­versity. So in the early 1980s, she went to work for home-state Sen. Carl Lev­in, and later for then-Rep. Phil Sharp of In­di­ana, both Demo­crats. Sharp’s work on the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee sparked in Blood a ca­reer-long in­terest in en­ergy is­sues, she says. Blood joined the staff of Demo­crat­ic Gov. Richard Celeste of Ohio in 1985 and spent six years work­ing on en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues for the state. She then went in­to lob­by­ing for mu­ni­cip­al util­it­ies, the Amer­ic­an Pub­lic Power As­so­ci­ation, hy­dro­power com­pan­ies, and oth­er clean-en­ergy pro­viders. Now 57, Blood moved this spring to Wexler & Walk­er, the first lob­by­ing firm in Wash­ing­ton foun­ded by wo­men (Anne Wexler and Gail Har­ris­on) and led today by former Rep. Robert Walk­er, a Pennsylvania Re­pub­lic­an. Blood says she’ll con­tin­ue to work on clean-en­ergy is­sues, in­clud­ing hy­dro­elec­tri­city and nuc­le­ar power.

ELEC­TION­EERS

The Wo­men’s Cam­paign Fund

Betsy Mullins, new president and CEO of the Women's Campaign Fund. (Chet Susslin) Chet Susslin

Betsy Mullins, new pres­id­ent and CEO of the Wo­men’s Cam­paign Fund. (Chet Suss­lin)The Wo­men’s Cam­paign Fund has a new pres­id­ent and CEO, Betsy Mullins, who brings with her a wealth of ex­per­i­ence on Cap­it­ol Hill, in the White House, at the En­ergy De­part­ment, with the Demo­crat­ic Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation, and in pub­lic-af­fairs firms. Mullins, 45,grewup in Cin­cin­nati and worked as a re­port­er in Flor­ida, but was driv­en to move to Wash­ing­ton after Pres­id­ent Clin­ton took of­fice in 1993, she says. She worked in com­mu­nic­a­tions for the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, for Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Is­land, and for then-Rep. Vic Fazio of Cali­for­nia be­fore join­ing Vice Pres­id­ent Al Gore’s staff in 1999. That led to po­s­i­tions serving Bill Richard­son when he was En­ergy sec­ret­ary and later when he was gov­ernor of New Mex­ico, in between stints at Vote for Amer­ica, the Dix­on/Dav­is Me­dia Group, SS+K, Tech­Net, and her own firm, P3 Pub­lic Af­fairs. At the WCF, Mullins will work to get more wo­men elec­ted at all levels of gov­ern­ment. “We’re still the most un­der­rep­res­en­ted seg­ment of the Amer­ic­an pub­lic, with 18 per­cent” of elect­ive of­fices na­tion­wide, she says, “and we’re half the pop­u­la­tion.”

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