(01/14/2018)
By Bob Weaver

With the hubris about the Trump administration, it was barely noted.

Energy commissioners, including four appointed by the president, unanimously rejected Trump's long touted bail-out for the coal industry.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected a proposal to subsidize coal-burning and nuclear power plants.

Its defeat hands a victory to the motley coalition—of environmental groups, natural-gas companies, free-market advocates, and Democratic state attorneys general—who had opposed the rule and promised to fight it in court.

The 5-0 rejection was all the bitterer for the administration because four of the five commissioners who lead the agency were appointed by President Trump, and three are Republicans.

The rule aimed to improve the resilience and stability of the electrical grid. Citing some electricity problems that struck during the “polar vortex”-induced cold snap of 2014, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry proposed that utility companies should pay coal and nuclear plants to keep weeks of extra fuel on hand.

The plan was always controversial. Critics argued that Perry’s bailout would harm natural-gas plants, slow the growth of solar and wind energy, and introduce new and costly distortions to U.S. energy markets.

The Trump administration is also backing out for support of coal miners with black lung.

Energy economists and environmental groups also maintained the rule would effectively subsidize carbon-dioxide pollution, which causes global warming. “Doing nothing [about climate change] is already not merited by economics,” Michael Greenstone said.


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