Energy Policy
July 19, 2018
Will Trump’s efforts to help the coal industry hurt consumers?

President Trump appears intent on bucking up the struggling nuclear and coal industries, as rival nations and U.S. states and businesses push for greater use of renewable energy. Public concern about climate change and an increasingly abundant supply of natural gas are dominating political and economic decisions about energy use on the federal and state levels. Trump wants the United States to become independent of foreign energy sources and an exporter of oil and natural gas. The so-called shale revolution resulting from “fracking” could make that happen, energy analysts say. The administration also sees commercial shipments of liquefied natural gas as an important tool in a diplomatic effort to reduce Russian influence in Europe. But critics say Trump’s plan to help the coal industry will raise energy prices and harm innovation.

Coal miner Jaden Fredrickson awaits the arrival of then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt at the Harvey mine in Sycamore, Pa., in 2017. The Trump administration has made saving miners’ jobs a priority. (Getty Images/Justin Merriman)   Coal miner Jaden Fredrickson awaits the arrival of then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt at the Harvey mine in Sycamore, Pa., in 2017. The Trump administration has made saving miners’ jobs a priority. (Getty Images/Justin Merriman)

Stressing the need to protect jobs and achieve energy independence, President Trump in June directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to “prepare immediate steps” to prop up struggling nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States.

Administration officials say declining production of those two fuels threatens the reliability of the nation’s energy supply, and Trump has repeatedly promised coal miners that “you’re going back to work.” Officials also say they see the aid as a matter of national security; they are considering invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, which permits the federal government to intervene in private industry when national security is at stake. 1

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