Super Stupid

“We wouldn’t want to see counterproductive action”

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Remember Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry's plan to subsidize coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are due for retirement?

How do you reconcile that plan with Trump's new plan to impose tariffs on foreign uranium?

That's a good question and it appears that analysts and the nuclear industry are just as puzzled as you may be.

“The administration is searching for ways to help nuclear power plants that are financially struggling right now,” said Nima Ashkeboussi, director for fuel cycle programs at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington. “We wouldn’t want to see counterproductive action to their stated goal of saving nuclear power.” [...]

“Clearly the purpose of a tariff is to raise the price,” Kit Konolige, a utility analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone. “Ultimately, in most states, it would end up being borne by the end consumer.” [...]

It is likely that if the tariffs are enacted, it would drive up the price of uranium,” said Shawn Flaherty, a spokesman for the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station, a nuclear plant about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Houston.

This honestly didn't occur to me right away when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross first announced that he was considering a tariff on uranium, but now that I think about it I can't stop laughing.

If we assume that Trump will go through with his plan to subsidize power plants and his plan to impose more tariffs, what would the result be?

I think the result would be comparable to Trump's decision to increase the cost of health care for consumers which, in turn, raises costs for the federal government which still subsidizes health care.

Subsidizing nuclear power plants would raise costs for consumers, but imposing tariffs on foreign uranium would raise costs for nuclear power plants. That would make subsidizing them in the first place even more expensive.

It doesn't get much more incoherent than this.

While we're on the subject of subsidizing the energy industry, it's worth noting that Trump's plan to impose tariffs on over $500 billion in Chinese goods could result in China blacklisting American coal. Trump loves coal, right?