US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has granted the country’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 30 more days to review his proposal to bail out the coal and nuclear industry’s at the same time that The Washington Post has obtained material that shows Perry may be acting at the behest of the coal industry.
In early October, Secretary Perry filed a proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which essentially seeks to subsidise coal and nuclear power plants based on an unsupported belief that the two technologies serve to provide grid stability, as opposed to the idea that renewable energy sources weaken grid security.
“A reliable and resilient electrical grid is critical not only to our national and economic security, but also to the everyday lives of American families,” said Secretary Perry said at the time. “A diverse mix of power generation resources, including those with on-site reserves, is essential to the reliable delivery of electricity — particularly in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters. My proposal will strengthen American energy security by ensuring adequate reserve resource supply and I look forward to the Commission acting swiftly on it.”
Of course, his base assumptions bear no real resemblance to reality and the proposal has received harsh opposition from most everyone, including 12 energy industry associations and FERC Commissioners past and present.
As of this week, Secretary Perry has granted FERC an extra 30 days to make its decision, while at the same time repeating his claims that the coal and nuclear industries require immediate aid “in light of serious threats to the nation’s electricity grid” — threats that Perry doesn’t actually enumerate. Secretary’s letter (PDF) to FERC serves to thoroughly muddy the reality of the situation by repeatedly warning of “urgent” threats to the nation’s electricity supplies and ignoring the weight of countless opponents’ arguments against his proposal. If nothing else, I think someone should buy Secretary Perry a thesaurus so he can use a word other than “urgent” (four times) in his letter.
The letter is dated December 8, the same day that the The Washington Post revealed a meeting taken between Secretary Perry and Robert E. Murray, founder of mining giant Murray Energy and a major Trump supporter, less than 4 weeks after he took office. According to the Post, Murray presented the Secretary with a 4-page “action plan” that detailed a plan to rescue the coal industry by replacing commissioners at independent regulatory agencies, slashing staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and overturning safety and pollution rules.
The Post quotes Murray as complaining that under the former President Barack Obama, environmental regulators had written rules and regulations with “38 times the words in our Holy Bible” — a statistic that couldn’t say more about the situation if they had tried. (Note: I am a Christian and love the Bible, but I have no idea how many words are in it.)
It is not difficult to see the conspiracy theorists’ red-string between Secretary Perry’s meeting with Murray in March and his October proposal to FERC seeking subsidies for unsupported claims regarding the coal and nuclear industries. This is not even the first time Trump Cabinet members have been found to be meeting with the fossil fuel industry’s representatives, as we saw from EPA chief Scott Pruitt earlier this year.