President Trump admin considers plan to bail out coal, nuclear plants

President Trump admin considers plan to bail out coal, nuclear plants

"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.

Greg Wetstone, chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said: " At the end of the day, the transparent guise of a national security emergency does not pass the red-face test as a justification for this action, or the increase it will cause in electricity costs for American consumers and businesses".

In a draft memo to be circulated on Friday, the Department of Energy (DOE) argues in favor of using a wartime rule called the Defense Production Act to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants, according to Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the memo.

The idea of declaring an emergency under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (used by President Harry Truman for the steel industry) and section 202 of the Federal Power Act has been promoted by the chief executives of the coal mining firm Murray Energy and OH utility First Energy, both of whom have contributed heavily to President Trump's political activities.

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

The plan would exempt power plants from obeying a host of environmental laws and spend billions to keep coal-fired plants open.

"Americans should not have to pay for dirty, uneconomic coal plants that pollute our environment and make people sick - especially when there are cleaner, more affordable energy options available", Panfil said. According to Bloomberg, an unlikely coalition of proponents for both these industries told Perry that they don't see any emergency that would rationalize the DOE taking these extreme steps because "power plant retirements are a normal, healthy feature of electricity markets".

Coal and nuclear are considered "baseload" fuels, meaning they can supply a consistent amount of power for long periods of time, with abundant fuel stored at plants where it will be turned into electricity.

"President Trump has directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources, and looks forward to his recommendations", Sanders said.

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A number of other trade groups representing energy efficiency, electric storage, natural gas, oil, solar, wind and electricity consumers also chimed in to criticize the draft memo and its proposed actions.

The DoE memo suggests that United States energy grid operators could be compelled to purchase power from a pre-approved list over a two-year period, "to forestall any future actions toward retirement, decommissioning or deactivation", according to Ars Technica.

Coal industry leaders and some utilities praised the Trump administration's move on Friday.

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

Opponents of the new plan contend bailouts are a solution in search of a problem.

Environmental groups, natural gas producers and Republicans and Democrats who have pushed for greater competition in electricity markets all condemned the latest signal that the administration might be moving closer to imposing the Energy Department's plan.

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.

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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