Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Perry’s proposals — which would keep aging coal and nuclear power plants operating — have riled up the oil and gas industry. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP Photo

By Eric Wolff and Darius Dixon
15 October 2018

(Politico) – One of the Trump administration’s major efforts to prop up ailing coal companies has run aground in the White House, a setback to an industry that had hoped for a major resurgence after Donald Trump won the presidency.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has spent more than a year pushing various plans that would invoke national security to force power companies to keep their economically struggling coal plants running — a goal in line with Trump’s frequent pledges to revive what he calls “beautiful, clean coal.”

But 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.

It is unclear whether Trump himself has decided against following Perry’s proposal. Even if he has, the sources warned that Trump frequently changes his mind, and the idea could re-emerge in advance of the president’s reelection campaign.

The failure of Perry’s bailout efforts still leaves Trump with plenty to brag about in coal country: He has shredded former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations and pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. But the stalemate is frustrating the politically active coal mining companies that backed Trump’s presidential campaign and lobbied heavily for an economic lifeline for their industry. […]

The White House directed Perry to “prepare immediate steps to stop the loss” of retiring coal and nuclear plants more than four months ago, and Trump even interrupted an Ohio fundraiser in May to order an aide to call Perry to talk about the bailout. He also touted the national security benefits of coal a few months later at another West Virginia speech.

But in recent months, Trump has omitted mentions of a potential rescue even in his pro-coal speeches, such as at a rally last week in Richmond, Ky. […]

Even without a bailout, the administration’s other regulatory rollbacks to help coal are likely to keep voters in coal-heavy regions solidly in Trump’s camp.

“If you’re Donald Trump’s speechwriter and you travel to West Virginia, you have everything you need. … That’s your applause line,” said Jeff Navin, a founder of Boundary Stone Partners and a former chief of staff for the Energy Department under Obama.

But the White House silence has left ardent coal supporters on Capitol Hill frustrated. [more]

Rick Perry’s coal rescue runs aground at White House

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