Coal Boss Who Pushed for Industry Bailout Doubts Trump Will Deliver
WASHINGTON – A top coal executive who pushed the Trump administration for a bailout that would cost consumers billions of dollars a year admitted the president probably won’t be able to keep his campaign pledge to save the dying industry.
Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, contributed heavily to Trump’s campaign, and the administration used his wish list as a blueprint for rollbacks of environmental rules. He has pleaded with Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prop up the industry by mandating the use of coal to generate electricity.
But in an interview with the online news site Axios, Murray said, “I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I don’t know. It’s the government.”
In an August 2017 letter to the White House, Murray said he was “desperate” for President Trump and Perry to invoke a national security emergency and order regional electricity grids to buy coal and nuclear power even if cheaper, cleaner renewable sources were available. The following month, Perry ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to fast-track consideration of the proposed rule.
The FERC ultimately rejected the plan. Perry floated his scheme again this year, but in October, top economic and national security advisors at the White House shelved it, citing, among other reasons, the increased costs of energy for consumers.
A November 2017 analysis by EWG showed why Murray and other coal and nuclear executives are desperate for a ratepayer bailout: Their plants are losing billions of dollars, and without subsidies to make them competitive with renewable energy and natural gas, utilities are proposing to close 75 coal and nuclear facilities in just three short years.
This week, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that coal plant closings doubled in President Trump’s second year in office, despite his repeated pledge to “end the war on coal.”
“President Trump’s pledge to bring back coal will go down in history as one of the biggest lies ever told to the American people,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “What’s more troubling is that so many people believed him.”
“Even Bob Murray and other industry bigwigs can see that clean, safe and cheap energy from renewables is quickly replacing coal and nuclear as the power sources across the country, and that trend will only continue as both ratepayers and utilities seek to lower the cost of energy,” said Cook. “The days of dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear power plants dominating the grid are over.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.