It seems that everyone wants to lump Trump either into the “good” or “bad” category. The old “you’re with us or you are against us” bit. Well, that’s just not smart. Trump is a mixed bag, our favorite term with regard to Trump, for pretty much everyone but particularly for the liberty inclined. On the one hand we get Gorsuch. On the other hand we get tweets about self pardoning, threatened trade wars, and now MASSIVE TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES FOR THE COAL INDUSTRY?
Trump and the Trump Democrats apparently do not see that coal and nuke power are not the ways forward. (At least coal isn’t for sure.) But Trump owes many voters in coal country and he thinks he has to deliver. He may even think that coal is the right way forward. He is incorrect however, and we have family in one of coal country’s most important hubs. Family we like. We feel for coal country, but the market has spoken.
Back in March, the bankrupt nuclear and coal-fired electric power generator FirstEnergy asked the DOE to invoke section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act and declare that an “emergency condition” exists in Midwestern electricity markets. The company claims that closing down its old and unprofitable coal-fired plants will significantly reduce the reliability to electricity supply in the region.
In fact, the only real “emergency” is that the company has been losing money. In the guise of maintaining electric power reliability, FirstEnergy wants the DOE to order all coal and nuclear generating units in the PJM Interconnection footprint—a region covering all or parts of 13 states, plus D.C.—that have at least 25 days of onsite fuel be given non-market, cost-of-service rates and also guaranteed profits for at least four years. The “onsite fuel” qualification is meant to exclude generators that burn natural gas to produce electricity. Basically, the company wants the federal government to force consumers to buy its expensive electricity, and it wants to be guaranteed a profit too. Subsidizing these coal-fired plants would also help keep Trump’s coal industry pal Robert Murray, CEO of the Murray Energy Corporation, in business.
This is asinine. We have TONS of cheap, reliable, efficient, and generally CLEAN natural gas. We have unfathomable amounts of the stuff. But now we are supposed to subsidize coal plants? We, the taxpayers are supposed to GUARANTEE THE PROFITS of these plants?
*IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL NOTE
The Associated Press reports that;
“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.”
To be clear Trump has not declared an “emergency condition”. In fact, in August of last year Trump decided not to do so.
As The Hill reported;
The Trump administration has denied a coal company’s request to invoke a little-used authority to stop coal-fired power plants from closing.
Murray Energy Corp. CEO Bob Murray, an outspoken advocate for coal and a close ally to President Trump, had asked for a federal order to stop a major utility from closing any plants, even if it goes bankrupt.
Such an order from the Energy Department would have, among other effects, exempted FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.’s plants from numerous environmental standards.