Donald Trump and Rick Perry’s plan to save coal gets shut down hard by Trump-appointed regulators

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Governor Rick Perry / Flickr Donald Trump...
Governor Rick Perry / Flickr

Last fall, Donald Trump dumped the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with a new proposal that would have forced energy companies to keep large amounts of coal power in the mix. The plan, authored by Secretary of … what department was that again? Rick Perry, required that the electrical grid depend heavily on plants which kept a 90-day supply of energy “on site.” And the way the rules defining on site were written, wind was out, solar was out … even natural gas was out. Only coal and nuclear plants could fit the guidelines.

The plan made little sense. It would have kept the price of coal artificially high, forced utilities to keep aging, highly-polluting plants on line beyond their projected lifetimes, and prevented companies from dealing with a rapidly-changing market where gas, wind, and solar are all able to out-compete the massive investments needed for a new coal plant.

On Monday, federal regulators agreed.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have propped up nuclear and coal power struggling in competitive electricity markets.

That’s a unanimous punch in the nose to both Perry and Trump. One that’s made especially stinging because …

The independent five-member commission includes four people appointed by President Trump, three of them Republicans. Its decision is binding.

The Perry plan was heavily tilted to help just one person: Trump fan, coal baron, and squirrel-whisperer Bob Murray. Bob is not going to like this news. But everyone else will.

But maybe Murray will learn to this loss in stride … like Rick.

Perry issued a statement saying “as intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system.”

That would be Rick Perry, loser of the national debate. 

There’s not been much good news when it comes to energy and the environment since Trump took office, but this is a firm in-your-face rejection of the Trump/Perry plan to put a little coal in everyone’s stockings.

“This outright rejection of subsidies for coal and nuclear shows that Commissioners of both parties have little interest in manipulating electricity markets in favor of any fuel source,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former consultant at the Obama-era Energy Department, now a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy.

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