Perry’s latest bid to save coal

Source: By Kelsey Tamborrino, Politico • Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2018

So far, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has had no success in his effort to construct a safety net to keep alive coal-fired and nuclear power plants threatened with shutdowns – a mission that’s come straight from President Donald Trump. And Perry’s latest potential gambit to use the 1950 Defense Production Act in hopes of designating the plants as crucial for national security may not fare better than his previous efforts, energy experts tell Pro’s Eric Wolff.

Experts say the bid would stretch the definition of the law and almost certainly draw legal challenges. Plus invoking the act that was last used by the Obama administration to push advanced biofuels would probably hit a snag in Congress, since lawmakers would need to approve perhaps billions of dollars in funding to keep the plants afloat, the experts say.

Using the Korean War-era law to protect the plants could be a novel approach to aiding power plants, Eric writes, especially after Perry failed to gain FERC’s support for his proposal to give the plants financial backing. And since Energy Department lawyers stymied a push last year to invoke the agency’s authority under the Federal Power Act to force the plants to run, Perry and his staff appear to have very few viable options left.

But the fresh take on the act doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work. “To me, it’s a tough argument to make. It’s a specious argument on its surface that seems like a perversion of the intended use of the Defense Production Act,” said Tom Hicks, a former acting undersecretary of the U.S. Navy under former President Barack Obama and now a principal at the advisory firm The Mabus Group. Read more.