Trump Orders 'Immediate Steps' to Boost Coal, Nuclear Plants - NBC 10 Philadelphia
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Trump Orders 'Immediate Steps' to Boost Coal, Nuclear Plants

The plan would exempt power plants from obeying a host of environmental laws

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Trump Orders 'Immediate Steps' to Boost Coal, Nuclear Plants
    Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, File
    President Donald Trump holds up a "Trump Digs Coal" sign as he arrives to speak during a Make America Great Again Rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, Aug. 3, 2017.

    President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open.

    Trump believes that keeping America's energy grid secure "protects our national security, public safety and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

    Impending retirements of "fuel-secure" power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation's power grid and reducing its resilience, Sanders said.

    The directive comes as the Trump administration considers a plan to order operators of the nation's power grid to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants to keep them open.

    Steve King Faces Congressional Backlash Over Racist Remark

    [NATL] Rep. Steve King Faces Backlash From Congress Over Racist Remarks

    In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, members of the U.S. House condemned Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for his comments on white nationalism and white supremacy. Even leaders of King's own party are pressuring him to resign.

    (Published 31 minutes ago)

    The plan would direct grid operators to buy power from coal and nuclear plants for two years to ensure grid reliability, "promote the national defense and maximize domestic energy supplies."

    The Energy Department action, if ordered, would represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets.

    A draft memo urges federal action to "stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation" from coal and nuclear plants that have struggled to compete with natural gas and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo.

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

    A diverse group of energy industry groups — including oil, natural gas, solar and wind power — condemned the proposal, saying it would raise energy prices and distort markets.

    "Unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets rather than letting people keep more of what they earn," said Todd Snitchler of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.

    Budget Deadlock Continues as Shutdown Hits Its 26th Day

    [NATL] Budget Deadlock Continues as Shutdown Hits Its 26th Day

    Hope for the federal government to reopen is low as a deadlock over the budget from President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers and Democratic lawmakers continue. The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is on its 26th day. 

    (Published 5 hours ago)

    "Orderly power plant retirements do not constitute an emergency for our electric grid," said Amy Farrell, vice president of the American Wind Energy Association. 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."

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

    Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since last year and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast.

    "We support all efforts to ensure the security of our nation's electric power supply, which is critical to the reliability of our electric power grids, to low-cost electricity and to our national defense," Murray said Friday in a statement.

    The draft plan calls for the Energy Department to exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws typically reserved for wars or natural disasters. 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.

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

    Trump Denies Bombshell Russia Reports From NYT, Post

    [NATL] Trump Denies Bombshell Russia Reports From NYT, Washington Post

    President Donald Trump responded to accusations of Russian collusion in two separate bombshell reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post. Trump denied that he fired former FBI Director James Comey to advance Russian interests and a Post report that he hid conversations he had with Vladimir Putin.

    (Published Monday, Jan. 14, 2019)

    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.

    Miller, who also is close to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is lobbying for FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt power company that relies on coal and nuclear energy to produce electricity. Ohio-based FirstEnergy is the largest customer for Murray's Ohio-based coal company and has joined with Murray to seek federal help.

    Michael Panfil, director of federal energy policy for the Environmental Defense Fund, called Trump's directive "an unprecedented, illegal government handout" to the coal and nuclear industries and vowed to fight the order in court.

    "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.

    The independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a similar request by Perry in January, saying in a unanimous decision that there's no evidence that past or planned retirements of coal-fired power plants pose a threat to grid reliability.

    The draft memo was first reported by Bloomberg News. 

    Judge Blocks Trump Birth Control Coverage Rules in Delaware, Other States

    [NATL-PHI] Judge Blocks Trump Birth Control Coverage Rules in Delaware, Other States

    A Trump Administration rule that would allow more employers to opt out of covering birth control from women will not take effect on Monday as scheduled. The rules would let employers claim exemption for religious or moral reasons. Delaware is one of the 13 states that sued to have the rule stopped.

    (Published Monday, Jan. 14, 2019)