Perry mum on plans to save ‘indispensable’ coal

Source: Dylan Brown, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perry touted “clean coal” technology yesterday but refuted reports his department is trying to bail out the struggling industry.

Perry joked he was the first secretary in a “pretty good spell” to pay a visit to the World Coal Association, which met today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to build more efficient, lower emission plants with technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

While he defended the Department of Energy’s various efforts to stem the tide of coal-fired power plant retirements nationwide, Perry did not address requests for him to take specific emergency actions to save facilities — namely those operated by bankrupt utility FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. and their top customer, mining company Murray Energy Corp.

“Contrary to what you’ve heard in the press, this is not about the fate of any one company, nor is it just a regional economic issue,” he said. “This administration views the premature retirements of coal and nuclear power as a natural security issue.”

With coal prices high and 2017 marking an uptick in U.S. coal production, Perry called coal “indispensable,” not only to U.S. energy independence but also to global energy security, noting conversations with counterparts in other countries.

“I hear many of them fret about how can they obtain our resources given the political constraints of their energy options,” he said.

“This administration is removing those constraints in our own country,” he added. “And now we are deploying every form of energy we have, and the U.S. is in a remarkably better position” geopolitically.

Perry said “clean coal is a reality,” touting DOE efforts to advance not only CCS technology but find a way to commercialize small-scale modular coal plants within the Office of Fossil Energy (E&E News PM, May 8).

Technological advances got a ringing endorsement at the conference today from Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

The two coal-state senators have teamed up on the “Utilizing Significant Emissions With Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act” and the “Furthering Carbon Capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground Storage and Reduced Emissions (FUTURE) Act” (E&E Daily, April 12).

“Politics change, and what I’m trying to do is get a baseline policy that is going to work for the industry,” Heitkamp said.

She and Barrasso also were part of the bipartisan group that helped pass new credits for carbon dioxide capacity under Section 45Q of the tax code (Greenwire, March 12).

“The headlines are going to continue to show positiveness for [coal] production, as well as positiveness for successful scientific breakthroughs,” Barrasso said.