President Donald Trump rejected Tuesday a plea from energy companies for an emergency order protecting coal companies from a changing and shifting energy market.
The White House and the Department of Energy have agreed that an emergency rule is unnecessary. The Trump administration considered Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray’s request for the rule but decided not to issue the order, a White House official told The Washington Post.
Trump had reportedly committed to the measure during conversations with Murray and executives from FirstEnergy Solutions after public events in July and early August. Murray argued in letters to the White House earlier this summer that thousands of coal miners are at risk of being laid off absent the rule.
One of the letters, which Associated Press reporters reviewed in August, suggested that Trump agreed to the rule and told the DOE: “I want this done.” But administration spokeswoman Kelly Love wrote that the proposal was not the appropriate way to provide help to the coal industry.
Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman with the Energy Department, agreed with Love’s remarks, telling reporters that the agency is sympathetic to the coal industry’s plight, but will not support the proposal.
“With respect to this particular case at this particular time, the White House and the Department of Energy are in agreement that the evidence does not warrant the use of this emergency authority,” Hynes said in a statement Sunday.
Trump, who is skeptical about the science behind climate change, campaigned during the presidential election on supporting the coal industry and repealing a series of his predecessor’s climate regulations.
The president rolled back several provisions of former President Barack Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan, along with the Democrat’s Waters of The U.S. rule, which conservatives believe hurts the coal industry.
Coal has seen a slight rejuvenation during Trump’s first term. Coal exports were nearly 60 percent higher in the first few months of the Trump administration than at the same time last year, according to federal data.
Exports declined dramatically during the last half of the Obama administration, but now economics and political factors have collided to put some wind in the sales of the once-fluttering industry.
Coal companies exported more than 22 million short tons of steam and metallurgical coal between January and March 2017, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in July.
The DOE is also expected to make public a study the agency recently conducted determining how clean energy sources like wind and solar power affect the energy grid.
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