The US Department of Energy (DoE) on Friday circulated a draft memo reflecting an order from President Donald Trump seeking to use a 20th-century wartime law that would force energy buyers to continue to subsidize expensive and polluting power sources, including coal-fired electricity-generating stations and nuclear power plants. Trump has directed Perry "to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations".
The White House-sponsored DoE memo reportedly states that "too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement", while declaring that the replacement of coal and nuclear plants by natural gas and renewable power in the USA is not secure.
Some analysts have asserted that there is an environmental case for keeping the nation's ailing nuclear plants open, since, if they closed, their carbon-free electricity would most likely be replaced by natural gas and emissions would rise.
In exploiting the 1950 Defense Production Act - an obscure Korean War-era energy procurement statute meant to streamline the war effort against Communism, particularly against China - Trump is looking for new ways to keep coal and nuclear power afloat in the USA, even as sustainable and ever-cheaper power generation in the country, including wind and solar, has risen sharply. And the Energy Department would be tapping the 68-year-old Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era statute once invoked by President Harry Truman to help the steel industry.
The idea of declaring an emergency under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (used by President Harry Truman for the steel industry) and section 202 of the Federal Power Act has been promoted by the chief executives of the coal mining firm Murray Energy and OH utility First Energy, both of whom have contributed heavily to President Trump's political activities.
The draft memo also states that U.S. Defense Department installations are nearly entirely dependent on the commercial grid, furthering the argument that a reliable electric system is critical, Bloomberg reported.
Trump administration officials have already spent a year contemplating action.
"There is no need for any such drastic action", the company said.
By January, the commission had rejected Perry's request, the Times reported.
Earlier this year, east coast grid operator PJM, which serves 65 million customers, published an analysis of recently announced planned deactivations of certain nuclear plants and determined that there was no immediate threat to system reliability. They argue there are many ways to back up the grid that won't cost ratepayers billions of dollars.
Analysts said the new plan would face numerous legal and political challenges before it could get implemented. Normally, that authority is used in natural disasters or other crises.
Michael Panfil, director of federal energy policy for the Environmental Defense Fund, called Trump's directive "an unprecedented, illegal government handout" to the coal and nuclear industries and vowed to fight the order in court.