Press Releases

Trump Administration: We Have No Idea What Our “Emergency” Coal Bailout Will Cost

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Washington, June 7, 2018 | comments

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today had an exchange with an Energy Department official which revealed the Trump Administration is flying blind on both the costs of its proposed bailout for US energy companies, and on the effects that the bailout would have on American businesses, including the manufacturing sector.

The exchange between Beyer and Bruce Walker, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Electricity and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response at the U.S. Department of Energy, occurred Thursday afternoon in a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy.

BEYER: “Assistant Secretary Walker, you previously stated on February 20th of this year and I quote, ‘We would never use a [Section] 202 [authority] to stave off an economic issue. That’s not what it’s for.’

And now FirstEnergy Solutions has asked your Department to use a 202 to stave off an economic issue... does that then imply, or do we understand, that you won’t use a 202 for them?”

WALKER: “The 202 application from FirstEnergy is being reviewed by my Department as we speak.”

BEYER: “The draft ‘Grid Memo’ was circulated before the National Security Council last Friday, and it is widely understood that this draft came from the Department, intended to fulfill Trump’s June 1st directive to intervene in planned plant closures.

But there’s been an awful lot of pushback from people who are grid operators and grid experts. Specifically, the CEO of Exelon, the largest nuclear generator in the U.S., said the retirement of coal and nuclear plants do not constitute a grid emergency that warrants urgent intervention from the federal government.

The President of the Electricity Consumers Resource Counsel, an association of large industrial electricity users, said that the latest DOE proposal would ‘devastate U.S. manufacturing.’ Have you calculated the costs on American businesses, and specifically U.S. manufacturing?

WALKER: I have not.

BEYER: “The previous [Section] 403 proposal, which was rejected by FERC because it was unsubstantiated, they said it was going to increase costs by $8 billion annually in PJM alone. Now the new plan nationalizes that 403 proposal, so I would expect that 8 billion dollar figure is going to go up very significantly. Again, in putting together this draft plan, have you estimated what this will cost the US taxpayer?”

WALKER: I have not.

Video of the exchange is linked here.

The exchange came just hours after Beyer led Congressional opposition to the Trump Administration’s grid directive, which would bail out energy firms upon the request of billionaire coal baron donors and citing a nonexistent grid emergency.

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