President orders steps to boost coal, nuclear power plants


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security.

Trump, who has frequently promised to bring back coal jobs, 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 coal-fired and nuclear power plants are harming the nation’s electric grid and reducing its resilience, and the president wants immediate action “to stop the loss of these resources,” Sanders said.

Environmental groups decried the support for coal over cleaner energy sources, while energy industry groups warned that it could raise prices.

The directive comes as the Trump administration considers a plan to order grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants to keep them open. The plan would direct regional transmission 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.

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