Americans can be forgiven if in their haste to rush outside and watch yesterday’s solar eclipse they missed an even rarer moment: A decidedly good environmental decision by the Trump Administration. The Energy Department rejected calls to declare a national emergency in the power grid. These calls, made by Murray Energy’s CEO Robert Murray, aimed to protect America’s dirtiest fossil fuel by exempting coal plants from environmental regulations and closures for two years.
In a series of frustrated letters to Energy Department officials, Murray claims to have repeatedly heard the President tell Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, “I want this done.” Murray asks why: “This urgent action, now ordered by President Trump several times, has not occurred.” Either Murray is playing ignorant or he genuinely has no concept of how out of line and ridiculous this request is. Either way, it’s worth an explanation.
As the name suggests, emergency authority is meant to address emergencies. Black outs, energy crises, hurricanes, wars–all of these would be valid reasons to invoke this authority. Bailing out an uncompetitive, out of date industry that can’t function while following even the most rudimentary pollution regulations just doesn’t fit the bill.
Trump made many big campaign promises to the coal industry. The reality is closing in that he’s simply not going to be able to keep them. But the President’s inability to plan for a realistic future for coal country isn’t going to take down the Robert Murrays of the world. They may get hurt, but they can take the hit. It’s the regular communities, those envisioning a return to a golden or at least silver age of coal that’s never coming who will truly suffer from Trump’s lack of vision.
Image: Creative Commons via TripodStories- AB