Trump directs 'instant motion' to stop coal, nuclear energy vegetation from closing

News you might have missed Afternoon links for Friday June 1

The Defense Production Act, adopted in 1950 at the start of the Korean War, allows the federal government to intervene in business to promote national security.

Federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity.

The Energy Department would also establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve".

The US energy watchdog found the proposals neither justified nor reasonable But on Friday, the White House said it was working on a new plan.

According to a report from Bloomberg, at a meeting today of the White House National Security Council, a 41-page draft memo was circulated that outlines the need for the USA grid to be "resilient and secure".

Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Bloomberg, the memo added that these coal and nuclear plants are being replaced by natural gas and renewable power generation that is not secure or resilient.

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. Based on a leaked memo it appears Perry will deploy a pair of archaic, World War II- and Cold War-era laws to shelter certain plants from competition in the free market, likely mandating regional utilities to ensure that selected uneconomic coal and nuclear plants continue to operate.

The statement from the White House comes hours after Bloomberg obtained a draft memo detailing a DOE plan to order grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants that are at risk of retiring due to cheaper energy available from renewable energy sources and natural gas. The owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant has said its plant has been unprofitable for six years.

LARGE SWATH OF ENERGY INDUSTRY OPPOSES DOE INTERVENTIONBut the use of either statute to prevent coal and nuclear retirements has been looked at with skepticism by Washington insiders and been blasted by most of the power sector outside of those with coal and nuclear interests.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration, coal consumption has fallen about 20 percent compared to past year, from about 149,200,000 short tons in the first two months of 2017 to just under 119,600,000 short tons in the first two months of 2018.

The head of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), a national trade association representing independent power producers and marketers, calls the memo an "unprecedented executive branch intervention" and fears that the "economic consequences [would be] profound for power suppliers and consumers". The move would be one of the most direct efforts by Trump to make good on campaign promises to revive the nation's shrinking coal industry. It asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry to help its struggling coal and nuclear plants. "They feel that Colstrip is definitely an asset that needs to stay on line in order to provide reliable electricity to their assets in the Northwest", Ankney said.

Those reviews followed FERC's rejection of Perry's notice of proposed rulemaking that directed the commission to put market rules in place that would have guaranteed full cost recovery and a return on investment for generators that maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies.

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.

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