Trump's plan to prop up coal and nuclear power rejected
The Republican- controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected on Monday the Trump administration's plans to breathe new life into the country's coal and nuclear power plants through subsidies.
It came as a hard blow to the president’s stated goal of reviving the US coal industry's future as the nation's top power source.
According to the FERC, retiring coal power plants did not pose a threat to the nation’s electricity grid, so there was no need to revive these plants.
Strikingly, a coalition of business and environmental groups that normally disagree with each other were unanimous in voicing their support for the regulator's decision. Aside from the environmental consequences, they claimed the plan would distort US energy markets and result in higher prices for customers.
Rick Perry, the US Energy Secretary, had backed the White House's proposals, requesting Washington help the coal and nuclear industries and slow down the speed at which those power sources were phased out.
According to Perry, that would provide a lifeline to many plants that were going out of business because of the cheap price of natural gas and renewable energy.
Perry said, "What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now."
Perry argued that without the coal and nuclear industry and due to renewable energies' destabilising effects on the market, America might see its electricity supply threatened in times of natural disasters or challenging weather conditions.
Yet after looking into the matter, the FERC concluded there were "no past or planned generator retirements that may be a threat to grid resilience."
The ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, said the Trump proposal was a "sham made evident this week as the grid performed well under the stress of severe cold weather throughout large portions of the country."
Donald Trump had vowed to arrest the decline in those two industries by repealing the environmental regulations that in his view were strangling both. However, not only would his plans cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year, they would also have negative effects on the environment.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now a UN special envoy on climate change, said that the FERC’s decision was a victory for "consumers, the free market and clean air."
For Bloomberg, the proposed measures were but an attempt to "prop up the coal industry by forcing American consumers to pay more for energy."