Conservatives Bash Trump’s Plan to Save Failing Coal, Nuclear Power Plants

Image: Conservatives Bash Trump's Plan to Save Failing Coal, Nuclear Power Plants

By Theodore Bunker

Even conservatives and libertarians are ripping President Donald Trump’s order to strop failing coal and nuclear power plants from closing, with some callingit “economy-crippling central planning,” and comparing it to the work of a “third grade” student,

Although the exact details of the plan have not been officially released, a leaked internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News proposes that if Trump cites national security concerns, then the Energy Department can require regional grid operators buy power from certain coal and power plants for two years, according to the Federal Power Act and the Defense Production Act. But many conservatives are more concerned about what effects the plan could have on the economy and the energy industry than the legality of the proposal. The Heritage Foundation policy analyst Katie Tubb told CNBC that since the administration can’t find an open way of subsidizing coal and energy plants, they’re using national security as an excuse. She also compared the plan to former President Barack Obama’s using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that were under the Clean Power Plan, a move that many conservatives paint as overstepping the president’s authority. “Neither are sound, principled policy and both promise harm to consumers. Instead, the President should turn dedicated attention to reversing the underlying policies that are causing the problems he wants to fix,” Tubb said. The Wall Street Journal’s chief economics commentator, Greg Ip, wrote on Wednesday that Trump’s plan will carry “a steep price, in both dollars and lives, most tragically for the coal miners he purports to help.” He describes the Trump administration’s argument for the plan as “baseless,” noting that Trump’s argument that the plants are needed in case fuel supplies run low is unfounded. “Fuel supply problems account for an infinitesimally small share of electrical outages and when supply problems do crop up, they are usually coal’s fault.” And The Washington Examiner wrote: “Trump’s energy bailout is a big mistake,” calling it “a ridiculously bad idea,” which will have “bad” consequences for both Trump and the coal industry. “First, this unprecedented government interference in energy markets will harm the economy under Trump’s watch. If energy prices rise, everyone will feel it. Voters will be deciding this fall whether to deprive Trump of the ability to enact his agenda and make appointments. To the extent that he pursues economy-crippling central planning policies, he risks losing that election.”