June 1, 2018

Breathtaking Power Grab: Trump Orders Uneconomical Coal and Nuclear Plants Not to Close, Lays Plans for Taxpayers to Bail Out Coal and Nuclear Industry

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: President Donald Trump today directed U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to stop the closure of coal and nuclear plants, which are closing because renewable energy has become cheaper. In addition, a draft White House memo outlines a plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants using the U.S. Department of Energy’s emergency powers and a Cold War-era law that permits it to nationalize parts of the power sector.

President Donald Trump’s actions are a breathtaking abuse of authority and another indication that the president – whose daily knee-jerk actions show neither thought nor policy knowledge – is heavily influenced by extremist corporations and industries. Trump is imagining a crisis that doesn’t exist. This is a power grab, literally.

Ordering the National Security Council to “prepare immediate steps” to assist Energy Secretary Rick Perry in crafting a bailout for uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants is an outrageous attack on hardworking Americans, the environment and the climate.

The 41-page White House memo outlines a strategy to force consumers and taxpayers to pay for direct purchases of electric power from failing coal and nuclear power plants through the establishment of a “Strategic Electric Generation Reserve.”

Last month, Public Citizen submitted a letter [PDF] to Perry opposing any effort to bail out these power plants and demanding transparency in the federal government’s consideration of such a bailout.

America’s coal and nuclear power plants have been rendered uneconomic because of the combination of cheaper renewables and gas, and flat power demand. There is no national security or reliability crisis stemming from the retirement of such facilities. Public Citizen will fight this outrageous bailout through all legal, legislative and regulatory means available.