Energy & Environment

Trump eyes Cold War statute to keep coal burning: report

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The Trump administration is looking into a Cold War–imposed statute to prop up U.S. coal plants, Bloomberg reports.

The administration is considering implementing the 68-year-old Defense Production Act, which was first passed by Congress in the midst of the Korean War as a way to nationalize an energy industry necessary in times of war.

The Trump administration aims to use the same statute to bolster long-struggling coal and nuclear power plants, various sources tell Bloomberg.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sent a letter Wednesday to the president urging him to utilize the policy in the name of homeland security.

“The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply,” Manchin wrote. “The ability to produce reliable electricity is critical to ensuring our nation’s security against the various threats facing us today — whether those threats be extreme weather events or adversarial foreign actors.”

According to Bloomberg, White House aides are looking into how to best implement the policy, which gives the government a broad latitude to nationalize private industry in the name of security.

This could provide help to the industries in the form of loans and loan guarantees or purchase commitments. It could also be aimed at specific regions or plants.

Trump has long sought to bring jobs back to coal country and strengthen the U.S. economy through increased coal production, making it a tenement of his presidential campaign. However, the administration has so far struggled to determine the best ways to prop up the struggling industry.

If the statute is decided on, the administration does not have to work with Congress to implement the statute, which could leave lawmakers opposed to the idea largely in the lurch.

The White House has to notify Congress but doesn’t need their approval.

Tags Coal Cold War Energy Joe Manchin
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