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

Trump orders action to stem shutdowns of coal and nuclear power plants

Trump orders action to stem shutdowns of coal and nuclear power plants

"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", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in an emailed statement Friday.

Under the proposal, the president would exercise emergency authority to carry out the directive, which the memo reportedly says is necessary to preserve national security.

Under a preliminary plan, first reported by Bloomberg Friday, the Energy Department could use its emergency power under two federal laws to require utilities to buy some of their power from coal and nuclear-powered plants that are threatened with closure. The plan calls for Perry to use the Federal Power Act and the Defense Production Act to temporarily delay retirements of coal and nuclear plants.

According to another energy association, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), the plan is "an exercise in crony capitalism taken exclusively for the benefit of a bankrupt power plant owner and its coal supplier", says Malcolm Woolf, AEE's senior vice president of policy. In bankruptcy documents, the company revealed its Bruce Mansfield plant, in Shippingport, Pa., lost $90 million in 2017 alone, and is projected to lose $104 million this year.

"Our nation must recognize the important role that coal and other traditional power sources play in rules created to make the national energy infrastructure stable and resilient". Trump has directed Perry "to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations".

DOE's planned intervention into the energy market would last for two years, allowing for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the US energy delivery and power grid, according to Bloomberg.

Underlying the plan to support the beleaguered coal and nuclear industries is the theory that they provide more stable and resilient sources of electricity than renewable sources like wind and solar power and than natural gas.

The Sierra Club, in a statement, depicted the support for coal and nuclear power as a "bail out [for] wealthy fossil fuel executives".

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The Trump administration confirmed Friday that it was looking into taking drastic actions to save the sputtering industry.

"This is an outrageous ploy to force American taxpayers to bail out coal and nuclear executives who have made bad decisions by investing in dirty and risky energy resources, and it will be soundly defeated both in the courts and in the court of public opinion".

The president heralded the coal industry during his campaign and his presidency, and he's frequently talked about trying to bring coal jobs back.

"Murray, for instance, wants the DOE to approve an emergency order, under Section 202 (c) of the Federal Power Act, which allows the federal government to intervene in energy markets in times of electricity reliability emergencies, though it's only ever been used historically in times of war or sudden resource shortage".

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".

McKinley said the closure of additional power plants will weaken America's national security.

But Robert Murray, chairman and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., the nation's largest privately owned coal company, hailed the White House announcement.

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