Energy Environment

Rick Perry’s Plan to Subsidize Dying Coal Plants Has Been Shelved

Written by SK Ashby

It's been a while since we've heard anything about the Trump regime's plan to subsidize coal-fired power plants that are due for retirement, but that's because the plan has been shelved according to Politico.

Trump recently told his supporters that his regime would bail out the coal industry, but Politico reports that Energy Secretary Rick Perry's plan ran into opposition from most advisers in the White House including the National Security Council. And perhaps more importantly, Perry also couldn't come up with a way to defend such a policy in court.

[The] White House has shelved the plan amid opposition from the president’s own advisers on the National Security Council and National Economic Council, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions. [...]

Industry lawyers and agency staffers say DOE leadership remains united behind a plan to keep the coal plants running, which would also help the coal-mining companies that provide fuel to the plants.

But the agency has struggled to provide the White House with details on which plants would get funding and who would pay, the sources said. Without a legally justifiable methodology, White House advisers have cooled to the idea of a major intervention in power markets.

Coming up with a "legally justifiable methodology" is the real trick here, because virtually everyone including some elements of the coal industry may have reasons to oppose it.

Subsidizing coal-fired power plants would mean raising prices on other energy customers who may not even rely on coal for electricity. That's an obvious reason for utilities and even state governments to oppose it.

On the flip side, if a subsidy was designed in a way that only benefited some coal companies -- like Murray Energy for example -- that would also give some parts of the industry a reason to oppose it.

And that's without mentioning environmental opposition.

Politico's report reminds us that Trump could change his mind at any time and order subsidies, but even if he does the policy could be tied up in court for years.