Trump Taxpayer-Funded Coal and Nuclear Bailout Decried as 'Breathtaking Abuse of Authority'
Environmental advocates on Friday responded with outrage to confirmation from the White House that President Donald Trump has ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to plot what’s being called an “unprecedented intervention” by the federal government to bail out financially strapped coal and nuclear power plants that can’t compete with the renewable energy sector.
“The taxpayers should never be asked to bail out wealthy fossil fuel executives who are trying to pollute our air and water with their dirty, dangerous fuels, and bad decisions.”
—Mary Anne Hitt,
“This is an outrageous ploy to force American taxpayers to bail out coal and nuclear executives who have made bad decisions by investing in dirty and dangerous energy resources,” declared Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
Ahead of a National Security Council meeting on Friday, Bloomberg News obtained an Energy Department memo detailing plans to use emergency authority under two federal laws to require grid operators to buy electricity from at-risk coal and nuclear facilities and establish a “Strategic Electric Generation Reserve.”
The document argues such moves are necessary for homeland security and energy independence. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the report with a statement confirming Trump has instructed Perry “to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources,” claiming the need to protect the grid “from intentional attacks and natural disasters.”
Rejecting the administration’s argument that preserving coal plants is essential to national security as “surreal” and “madness” contradicted by experts, Earthjustice staff attorney Kim Smaczniak pointed out that clean energy sources like wind and solar “make the grid safer from attack,” and even “the U.S. military is increasingly turning to solar, not coal, to ensure resilience at military bases.”
The Energy Department proposal outlined in the memo follows a previous plan rejected by federal regulators last year, which would have given subsidies to nuclear and coal plants on the grounds of providing “resilience” to the electric grid.
“That attempt was rightfully denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which determined that market rates and processes are indeed sufficient to meet national energy demand,” noted Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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