Trump's Coal, Nuke Push Pegged to Security Threats to Gas Pipes

Katie Ramirez
June 4, 2018

Farrell called the draft plan "a misapplication of emergency powers" and said, "There's certainly no credible justification to force American taxpayers to bailout uneconomic power plants". Those plants are owned by some of the president's political allies in the coal industry. It is proposed that the Energy Department would apply emergency authority under federal laws in order to navigate grid operators into purchasing power generation from ailing plants. "This needlessly raises costs for consumers and merely shifts the risk of premature retirement to newer, more efficient power plants that compete with coal and nuclear".

The EIA also reports that almost all power plants that retired between 2008 and 2017 were fossil fuel plants and that most plants that plan to close before 2020 use coal or natural gas. Energy analysts say the measure is meant for short-term emergencies and it would be a bad fit to use it this way.

A press release from White Home press secretary Sarah Sanders didn't say particularly what steps the administration would take however stated that "protecting America's power grid and infrastructure sturdy and safe protects our nationwide safety, public security, and economic system from intentional assaults and pure disasters". Since 2011, he has covered energy and environment for the Allegheny Front, a public radio environmental news show in Western Pennsylvania. 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. PacifiCorp also has plans to shutter a number of its coal-fired units over the next 15 years.

"There has been no change in our plan to cease coal-fired operations in 2020", PGE spokesman Steve Corson said Friday afternoon.

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. Energy experts across a range of industries, within the federal government and in academia have agreed that this sort of effort will create a bloated power sector deploying outmoded technologies.

Perry in September asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider "guaranteeing financial returns" for power plants able to "stockpile" 90 days worth of fuel on site.

In a recent appearance at a Washington Post event, FERC chairman Kevin McIntyre said that using the emergency powers was "perhaps not the most obvious fit".

A president can’t obstruct justice? That’s not quite right, legal scholars say
So said Rudy Giuliani on Sunday when asked whether President Trump has the power to pardon himself , Reuters reports. "He has no intention of pardoning himself ", he continued.

"Litigation would begin nearly immediately", she said.

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, applauded Friday the administration's effort to retain nuclear facilities as national security assets though she admitted to not having seen the details of the reported proposal.

The drilling industry, renewable energy companies, and many grid operators reject the idea that coal and nuclear power plant closures are undermining USA electricity reliability and resiliency, saying gas, solar and wind have proven dependable.

Sanders added that "impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities" pose a risk to national security, which prompted Friday's actions.

"Today's action will do nothing to make the American people safer".

That auction saw an 83% hike in the price generators will receive, and cleared a diverse mix of coal, nuclear, gas, renewable and other sources, PJM said.

Among those arguing for federal action is Jeff Miller, a well-connected GOP fundraiser who has served as an adviser to Perry and other Republicans and ran Perry's unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016. Trump attended a private dinner with Miller and a handful of political advisers in early April.

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