Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Electricity Consumers Resource Council President John Hughes, representing big industrial power users, said the Trump concept would "prop up uneconomic coal and nuclear plants" and "increase the price of electricity to businesses and consumers, resulting in a substantial loss of US manufacturing capacity jobs".

On June 1, 2018, President Trump directed Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry to provide a new unjustified and illegal handout to coal executives.

Trump campaigned on the promise that he would revive the coal industry.

"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", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

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According to a report from Bloomberg, at a meeting today of the White House National Security Council, a 41-page draft memo was circulated that outlines the need for the USA grid to be "resilient and secure". 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. "The Defense Production Act grants the president the authority to ensure that the nation's domestic industrial base is capable of providing the essential materials and resources needed to defend our nation and protect our sovereignty, and it recognizes energy production and critical infrastructure as strategic and crucial to that goal". "However, unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will put achieving that vision in jeopardy and hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets". Instead, it says that the loss of both coal and nuclear plants could threaten national security, given that Department of Defense installations are 99 percent dependent on the grid.

There is no environmental argument for keeping open coal plants, which are the most carbon-intensive form of power.

The administration says the transfer will forestall coal and nuclear energy vegetation vital to {the electrical} grid from closing, however opponents say the requirement is basically a bailout for a dying business that the president promised to save lots of and can trigger People' electrical energy payments to get dearer. Joe Manchin (D-WV) urging the president to use federal emergency powers to prevent the closure of coal and nuclear power plants.

As Trump's fossil-fuel energy mouthpiece, Perry earlier commissioned a study to identify regulatory causes for coal-plant closures, but no regulations were found; instead, cheap natural gas was observed to be responsible for widespread industry decline.

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The day before the announcement, Perry tweeted his support for coal.

"This prudent stop-gap measure" will allow coal and nuclear plants to remain open while the department takes further steps to secure the grid, the memo said.

The Trump administration is moving to embrace two rarely used authorities under federal law to take the action, after weighing a broad array of strategies for preserving coal and nuclear power plants.

Invoking national security concerns could bolster the Trump administration's case in any legal challenges over the intervention, said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard University. Its owner, Bob Murray, is a Trump backer who has personally lobbied Rick Perry to help the coal industry. In a statement on Friday, Manchin was crowing like a rooster in a hen house, praising Trump for using his idea.

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