Trump throws ailing US coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

Coal and nuclear plants would receive a lifeline under the DOE's new proposed order

Coal and nuclear plants would receive a lifeline under the DOE's new proposed order

After the Energy Department conducted a reliability study a year ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a rule that would have compensated coal and nuclear plants for their ability to store months' worth of fuel on site.

"Keeping America's energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security, public safety and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters", spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

In a uncommon transfer, the Trump administration confirmed Friday that it's going to take "instant steps" to stop coal and nuclear energy services within the USA from closing.

"I am glad President Trump and his administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security", Manchin says.

"Unfortunately, impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation's energy mix, and impacting the resilience of our power grid", Sanders said.

The memo added that "federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity".

The agency also is making plans to establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.

During that time, the DOE would conduct a study of vulnerabilities in the United States power grid system. The move by Trump is also in line with some of his top supporters, including coal moguls Robert E. Murray and Joseph Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, who donated a million dollars to the president's inauguration.


"Energy Secretary Perry is being forced to issue another unnecessary and unprecedented emergency order to favor coal and nuclear over more economic electricity suppliers, including renewables".

One other coalition of power business teams representing the oil, pure fuel, photo voltaic, and wind industries issued joint statements saying the administration's plan is "misguided", "unwarranted", and "an train in crony capitalism". The Energy Department has primarily used that authority to address major power outage events and shortages, such as the California energy crisis in 2000 and the Northeast blackout in 2003.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have been pushing campaigns to phase out coal as part of the US energy grid and they say that even a "bailout" will not keep coal and nuclear plants open as the global market focuses more on natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Coal stockpiled at a power plant.

President Donald Trump has promised, time and time again, to bring back coal.

Calling the draft plan "unwarranted" and "ill-conceived", Tom Foley, senior vice president of policy and government affairs for the American Council on Renewable Energy, warns that "arbitrary market interventions deprive businesses of the certainty they need to invest in power plants of all types, harming not helping electric reliability". It relies on authorities given to the executive branch in the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act.

In August 2017, Murray sent the White House a letter spelling out his industry's woes and complaining that his pleas had not yet been answered by the Trump administration. That attempt was rightfully denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which determined that market rates and processes are indeed sufficient to meet national energy demand. The operator for much of the Mid-Atlantic, it says it has "secured reliable supplies through 2021/2022" and that this kind of federal intervention "would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers".

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