Trump throws ailing U.S. coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

Trump throws ailing U.S. coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

Trump throws ailing U.S. coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

The US Department of Energy (DoE) on Friday circulated a draft memo reflecting an order from President Donald Trump seeking to use a 20th-century wartime law that would force energy buyers to continue to subsidize expensive and polluting power sources, including coal-fired electricity-generating stations and nuclear power plants. Only coal and nuclear plants regularly keep fuel on site. At the same time, hackers from criminal groups and hostile regimes are growing increasingly sophisticated in how they target weak spots.

"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-priced electricity and to our national defense", Murray said Friday in a statement.

Countering global efforts to stem the rise of global warming and increase the use of sustainable energies, Trump and his advisors are dusting off a 20th-century national security act in another attempt to bolster flagging coal and nuclear power generating industries in the US.

"In particular, resources that have a secure on-site fuel supply, including nuclear and coal-fired power plants, as well as oil-fired and dual-fuel units with adequate storage, are essential to support the nation's defense facilities, critical energy infrastructure, and other critical infrastructure". 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 have been meetings this week at the cabinet deputies' level and at the National Security Council.

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

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have been pushing campaigns to phase out coal as part of the US energy grid and they say that even a "bailout" will not keep coal and nuclear plants open as the global market focuses more on natural gas and renewable energy sources.

If the Trump administration were to invoke these two statutes, the move would nearly certainly be challenged in federal court by natural gas and renewable energy companies, which could stand to lose market share.

Perry, under the auspices of the Trump White House, then switched tactics by proposing a new rule to require energy buyers to pay extra fees to coal and nuclear plants as a means of supporting the declining industry, but that requirement was quickly shot down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who noted insufficient evidence to approve the extra fees.

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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.

PJM Interconnection has previously said it faces no immediate threat to reliability from recently announced nuclear retirements. "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".

"This action is essential in order to protect the resiliency and reliability of our nation's electric power grids", Murray said Friday in an email.

The placation of private thermal power companies from the Ministry comes in the wake of government's decision to make "out of turn coal allocation to government thermal power plant", which private power companies have labelled as "discriminatory and a distortion of a level playing ground based on ownership of the power generation plants".

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