May 10, 2018 Read More →

Conservatives Pan Coal, Nuclear Bailout Plan

Washington Examiner:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s statement that the Trump administration is looking “very closely” at using at using a Cold War-era law to save coal and nuclear plants sparked skepticism from energy experts and industry officials, who questioned how legislation designed to protect national security could apply.

The Defense Production Act of 1950 was created as America’s security and economy were recovering after World War II and early in the Cold War period. President Harry S. Truman used the newly passed law at the start of the Korean War, capping wages and imposing price controls on the steel industry. Energy experts say using the Defense Production Act for that reason would stretch the law beyond what it’s meant for because there is no imminent national security threat from the [FirstEnergy] plants closing in several years.

“What DOE is doing now is essentially scrubbing all potential statutes to find something that could be the most legally defensible case,” Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager at the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank, told the Washington Examiner. “The constitutionalist in all of us should just be crying out and saying this isn’t what any of these statutes were meant to do. Abusing something like a defense statute for civilian purposes undermines national security and our rule of law.”

Tom Pyle, president of the free-market American Energy Alliance and Trump’s former Energy Department transition team leader, said the administration will run into the same problems with the Defense Production Act. “They are clearly in a tough spot,” Pyle told the Washington Examiner. “The Department of Energy realizes these approaches are pretty dramatic and probably not doable. So what they are doing is struggling with the idea of needing to gently tell the industry we can’t do these Hail Mary passes. It’s impossible to do legally, and they’d be stretching the intent of the law to the point it could be challenged in court.”

Mike McKenna, a conservative environmental adviser with close ties to the Trump transition team, argues those considerations are not worth the effort. “It is ridiculous,” he told the Washington Examiner. “If we think coal has value that is not being properly accounted for, let’s figure that out and find a way to account for it. This is using a cleaver in lieu of a scalpel.”

More: Trump’s ‘Hail Mary’ To Save Coal And Nuclear Plants Draws Skepticism

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