President Donald Trump wants to stop coal and nuclear power plants from closing.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Bloomberg News in a statement that the president had ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to take the measures due to a national security interest in securing the national power grid's resilience. Trump has directed Perry "to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations".
Over dozens of pages, the memo makes the case for action, arguing that the decommissioning of power plants must be managed for national security reasons and that federal intervention is necessary before the USA reaches a tipping point in the loss of essential, secure electric generation resources.
Trump's plan will require grid operators to purchase power from coal and nuclear plants that otherwise might not be competitive with rivals running on cheap gas from shale fields.
The memo allegedly wrote that "Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement".
During that time, the DOE would conduct a study of vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid system.
The Trump administration is moving to embrace two rarely used authorities under federal law to take the action, after weighing a broad array of strategies for preserving coal and nuclear power plants. Perry argued that losing the plants could threaten the nation's power grid.
Gas-fired power generators are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than coal plants and nukes because gas must be delivered from remote fields via pipelines, according a draft report by the department.
They noted that the coal and nuclear power plants that would benefit have failed to compete against natural gas, solar and wind.
Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since a year ago and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast.
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. "If Trump chooses to bail out these failing coal plants, he'll be forcing Americans to pay for dirty energy that pollutes our environment and makes people sick". Federal regulators shot down the idea in January. That plea followed the Akron, Ohio-based company's announcement to shut three nuclear power plants that feed the grid operated by PJM Interconnection LLC, the largest in the country.
Opponents of the new plan contend the intervention is a solution in search of a problem and argue there are other ways to back up the grid.
"Uneconomic, dirty coal plants retiring does not represent a national security risk", Environmental Defense Fund director of federal energy policy and senior attorney Michael Panfil wrote on his blog.