Friday, June 15, 2018

Regulators, experts, say Trump's coal bailout unnecessary

Federal regulators and cybersecurity experts say that allowing ailing coal and nuclear power plants to close won't pose a security risk for the United States. President Trump recently ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to halt the shutdowns of such plants because he said they were necessary to maintaining the nation's energy mix, grid resilience and national security.

 "Asked by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing whether they believed the U.S. faced a national security emergency in wholesale power markets because of the closures, none of the five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission answered in the affirmative," Miranda Green reports for The Hill. Four of the five members of FERC are Trump appointees.

FERC member Richard Glick told the panel he was "sympathetic to the plight of coal miners who have been disproportionately affected" by coal's long slide, but said it wasn't FERC's job to figure out how to help struggling communities, Green reports.

Some energy companies and grid operators have questioned President Trump's order, such as PJM Interconnection, the nation's largest power grid operator, who called the action "drastic" and warned it could hurt the markets and cost consumers more. Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, agreed, saying in a TV interview that picking winners and losers "can be a very dangerous situation," Alex Thomas reports for W.V. Metro News.

Cybersecurity experts said the action is pointless because "hackers have a wide array of options for hitting electric infrastructure and nuclear facilities that are high-profile targets," Timothy Gardner reports for Reuters.

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