Trump Rejects Industry Call to Protect Coal-Fired Power Plants

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump administration rejected a coal company’s request to invoke a little-used authority to stop coal-fired power plants from closing.

The request was made by coal magnate Robert Murray, of the Murray Energy Corporation, according to letters obtained by the Associated Press. Those reports say Murray believed received promises from President Trump in July and again earlier this month that the Energy Department would issue an order granting relief from an Obama-era rule that impose strict environmental standards on the facilities.

Murray argued that by invoking its authority to void the rules, the Trump administration would have saved jobs by preventing the plants from closing.

But over the weekend, the DOE informed Murray it had decided not to take action.

In a statement released Sunday, DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said the decision was made in consultation with the White House.

“We look at the facts of each issue and consider the authorities we have to address them, but with respect to this particular case at this particular time, the White House and the Department of Energy are in agreement that the evidence does not warrant the use of this emergency authority,” she said.

When reached on Tuesday, a representative of Murray Energy declined comment.

Michael Brune, executive director at the Sierra Club, said via email on Tuesday that the rejection of the Massey’s request may have showed some cracks in the administration’s façade.

“What’s clear from this news is that Trump is telling coal communities and even coal executive he will do things he cannot do, like bring back the coal industry as the nation’s unstoppable shift to clean energy continues,” Brune said. “Our grassroots movement has been successful in working with utilities, communities and decision makers all over the country as they choose to retire almost half of the nation’s old, dirty coal plants because they are far too expensive to operate and make people sick. If Trump chose to issue this illegal and dangerous directive, he would have lost badly in the court of law and public opinion.”

Brune went on to say that as the cost of harnessing renewable resources like wind and solar continues to fall, rejecting those alternatives to coal will only grow more difficult.

“Every indicator shows that we are moving toward affordable cleaner energy sources like wind and solar that can create family-sustaining jobs all over the country,” he said. “This story also underscores why our nation should prioritize diversifying the economies in coal communities, rather than putting our head in the sand and planning a future around false promises of a coal revival. The sooner politicians are honest about that, the better.”

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