Trump accused of breaking promise to coal industry CEO

  • Donald Trump
  • 24/08/2017
Trump accused of breaking promise to coal industry CEO
American investor and billionaire Carl Icahn, who left his role as special adviser to Trump last Friday, pushed to change a federal biofuel program to help his oil refining company CVR Energy and coal magnate Robert Murray asked the Energy Department to use its emergency powers to force some power plants in the Rust Belt to stay open.

The CEO of "the largest coal mining company in America" believes President Trump has broken his promises to miners, The Associated Press reports.

The White House and the Department of Energy have agreed that an emergency rule is unnecessary.

Trump had reportedly committed to the measure during conversations with Murray and executives from FirstEnergy Solutions after public events in July and early August.

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The decision highlights a pattern emerging in the Trump administration: The president's bold declarations - both public and private - are not always carried through to implementation.

The decision not to issue an emergency order appears in direct conflict with White House statements and action the Trump administration has taken in the past to support coal-mining jobs, including repealing the Clean Power Plan and removing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. The Energy Department has only invoked this authority eight times since 2000, including during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to a DOE website.

A spokeswoman said the Akron, Ohio-based company is considering a bankruptcy filing for FirstEnergy Solutions, its subsidiary that owns three coal-fired power plants.

Former President Barack Obama had introduced a raft of new regulations meant to slash emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change, a policy course that discouraged investments in coal-fired power plants, and bolstered the nascent solar and wind sectors.

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A White House spokesperson said the administration decided it wouldn't be "appropriate" to declare an emergency on the power grid by invoking a rarely-used section of the U.S. Federal Power Act. "As stated, disastrous consequences for President Trump, our electric power grid reliability, and tens of thousands of coal miners will result if this is not immediately done", Murray wrote in letters reviewed by AP. The Obama administration never used the emergency exemption.

Murray's company is seeking a two-year moratorium on closures of coal-fired power plants, which would be an unprecedented federal intervention in the nation's energy markets.

Also, James Van Nostrand, director of West Virginia University Law School's Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, said "there's virtually no evidence" supporting Murray's claim that there will be threats to the nation's electric grid reliability if more coal-fired power plants close.

Coal has become an increasingly unattractive fuel for USA electricity companies, which have been retiring old boilers at a record pace. At the very least, that makes Donald "Clean Coal" Trump a hypocrite. The president also said the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

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Trump, who rejects the consensus of scientists that burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, has made reversing the coal industry's decline a cornerstone of his administration's energy and environmental policies.
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