Trump considering emergency authority to boost coal plants

Trump considering emergency authority to boost coal plants
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE is considering a plan to prolong the use of struggling coal and nuclear plants through an emergency use of federal power.

The Department of Energy may order grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants that are at risk of shuttering due to the increased use of cheaper natural gas and renewable electricity.

The plan was first reported by Bloomberg News, which obtained a copy of a draft memo.

"Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement," the 41-page memo read.

It is not clear whether Trump will sign the memo or when it may be implemented.

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

"Unfortunately, impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation's energy mix, and impacting the resilience of our power grid," she added.

"President Trump has directed Secretary of Energy Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryDems open new front against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: State of the Union takeaways | Sights and sounds from the night | Virginia attorney general admits he wore blackface Energy Secretary Rick Perry is designated survivor for 2019 State of the Union MORE to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources, and looks forward to his recommendations."

The plan outlined in the draft memo directs the Energy Department to instruct grid operators to purchase power from a list of designated plants. The intervention would last for two years, allowing time for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the U.S. energy delivery and grid system.


The agency also plans to create a “Strategic Electric Generation Reserve” in an effort to ensure the U.S. is prepared for emergencies and maximizing its domestic energy supply, according to Bloomberg News.

The administration would be relying on two laws if it implements the memo: its Section 202 authority and the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era measure.

The move would be an unprecedented intervention in the industry, which the memo defends citing national security interests.

Trump vowed to support coal during his presidential campaign and bring jobs back to coal country.

--Updated at 1:35 p.m.