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By Robert A. Vella

Story

From:  Coal company downplays role in Trump pro-coal rule

Coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. slammed a trio of green groups Tuesday for saying that it played a central role in the writing of a Trump administration proposal to require higher payments for coal-fired power plants.

The fiery response from the largest privately-held coal mining company came in response to a letter that the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week.

At issue is a news story from In These Times that showed photos of Murray CEO Bob Murray meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry earlier this year.

Specifics

From:  Trump proposes higher payments for coal, nuclear power

The Energy Department does not itself have the authority to create the rule.

Instead, Perry is relying on a little-used authority he has under a 1977 law to formally call upon FERC to issue the regulation. While FERC commissioners are appointed by the president, the agency is otherwise independent and not obligated to follow through on Perry’s request.

Under Perry’s proposal, independent system operators and regional transmission organizations — the entities that operate regional electric grids — would be required when signing wholesale electricity contracts to allow certain “resilient” power plants to get a “fair rate of return,” even when prices would otherwise be lower.

Currently, grid operators in most of the country use competitive markets, in which the lowest-cost power sources usually get contracts.

Since FERC’s rules must not choose one power source over another, Perry’s proposal would apply to plants with a 90-day on-site fuel supply and “be able to provide essential energy and ancillary reliability services.”

That definition appears to apply to coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power. Natural gas plants usually receive fuel via pipeline, but could ostensibly store a 90-day supply.

Background

In February, Murray reiterated his claim that global warming is a “hoax.”  In April, he asserted that Trump can “bring back coal” and that the president “is doing wonderful things for coal.”  Murray predicted in June that Trump “will restore even more coal jobs,” and boasted in October that the president “will save thousands of coal mining jobs.”  During the 2016 election cycle, Murray Energy donated nearly $2 million to Republican Party organizations, GOP candidates (including Donald Trump), and outside conservative advocacy groups (i.e. Super PACs).

Opposition

In addition to the above cited backlash by environmental groups, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued the following statement:

“In the wake of some of the most devastating storms in our nation’s history, it’s outrageous that the Trump administration would seek to prop up our dirtiest, most expensive, and climate-polluting sources of energy under the guise of promoting resiliency and reliability. 

States like New York have demonstrated that clean, renewable forms of energy not only enhance public health and our environment, but also add jobs, hold the line on electricity rates, and make our energy systems more secure and reliable. 

Given that the leading cause of power outages is extreme weather—which is exacerbated by climate change— the Trump administration’s head-in-the-sand approach would actually undermine grid resiliency and reliability while promoting climate change and its catastrophic impacts. 

My office will forcefully oppose this and other efforts of the Trump administration to put the interests of special interests ahead of the health, safety, and wallets of New Yorkers.”

12 thoughts on “Environmental groups accuse Trump Administration proposal of favoring Coal Industry giant

  1. Good for the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman! We need a lot more like him across the nation to step-up against the Orange Orangutan POTUS and start taking care of this one tiny “Pale Blue Dot” planet that sustains us all. When tRump made this energy/coal campaign promises — e.g. Johnstown, PA, Charleston, WV — it was like taking a leap back in a time-machine time-warp to the Victorian Industrial Revolution of thick black clouds of soot covering kids, towns, and city streets and outbreaks of lung disease and several other health hazards caused by toxic coal constituents such as Molybdenum, Arsenic, Boron, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Mercury, Thallium, and Silica. And how frequently and proactive do these coal-mining corporations take extensive measures to dispose of or reuse the coal byproducts and ash for environmental safety?

    http://time.com/4570070/donald-trump-coal-jobs/

    Good stuff Robert. Thank you Sir! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • tRumpsky has absolutely NO CLUE about the dangers you cited related to the environmental effects of coal. His gold-gilded house and life has prevented him from experiencing any kind of “real life” happenings on this planet.

      Liked by 4 people

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for that informative comment. In addition to the awful pollution you cited, coal mining is a very dangerous occupation for the poor people who have few other economic opportunities. Don Blankenship, who was Massey Energy’s CEO during the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, is now running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia. From Wikipedia:

      Donald Leon “Don” Blankenship (born March 14, 1950) is a candidate for the United States Senate from West Virginia. and retired American business executive. He was Chairman and CEO of the Massey Energy Company — the sixth largest coal company (by 2008 production) in the United States[1] — from 2000 until his retirement in 2010.[2] A federal grand jury indicted Blankenship on November 13, 2014, for conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as securities fraud.

      As a result of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, in which 29 miners were killed in Raleigh County, West Virginia on April 5, 2010, he faced up to 30 years in prison on several charges including felony conspiracy.[3] On March 5, 2015, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a gag order that had been keeping anyone involved in the case (including relatives of victims), from talking about the accident.[4]

      Blankenship is a financial backer of the Republican party and participant in local and state politics in his home state of West Virginia.[5] He has frequently spoken out about politics, the environment, unions, and coal production.

      Blankenship is featured unflatteringly in Michael Shnayerson’s 2008 book Coal River and in Laurence Leamer’s 2013 book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption.[6]

      Blankenship was paid $17.8 million in 2009, the highest in the coal industry. It was a $6.8 million raise over 2008, and almost double his compensation package in 2007. Blankenship also received a deferred compensation package valued at $27.2 million in 2009.[7]

      On December 3, 2010, Blankenship announced that he was retiring as CEO at the end of the year and would be succeeded by Massey President Baxter F. Phillips Jr.[8]

      On December 3, 2015, Blankenship was found guilty of one misdemeanor charge of conspiring to wilfully violate mine safety and health standards. He was acquitted of felony charges for lying about safety procedures in Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine that caused an explosion in 2010 before his retirement.[9] On December 28, 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDevort lowered his bond from $5 million to $1 million, and he was permitted to return to his home in Las Vegas, and travel freely in the U.S.

      On April 6, 2016, he was sentenced to 1 year in jail and fined $250,000. On May 12, 2016, his appeal rejected in federal court, he reported to FCI Taft, in California north of Los Angeles, to begin serving his sentence.[10] On January 19, 2017, his appeal of his conviction was rejected by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.[11] He was released from prison on May 10, 2017.[12]

      On November 28, 2017, he filed election papers to run for United States Senate, representing West Virginia.[13]

      Liked by 2 people

      • Geezzz, what a horrible, corrupt, dirty track-record!!! But like Roy Moore, this will all suddenly be old and dead news to certain “voters.” :/

        Any predictions now how Blankenship will do given this above track-record? HAH! 🙄😖

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m not currently up-to-date on West Virginia politics. But, I do have a general, historical awareness of its electorate which is predominately white and very blue-collar – just the sort of people who voted for Trump. However, I suspect Blankenship wouldn’t do as well simply because he is a rich oligarch and corrupt coal mining executive who egregiously exploited that state’s workers and residents. This is why conservative, labor-oriented Democrats such as Robert Byrd and Joe Manchin were so successful there.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s sickening to think that Blankenship could even possibly win an election after the horrible crimes against nature Massey has committed over the years. They’ve destroyed rivers, lakes and forests, ripped the tops off mountains leaving them to undergo soil degradation and poisoned the people, animals and plant life of that part of the country as well as the disgusting crimes against humanity you mentioned, Robert.

    On the positive side, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman not only fights for the environment, he fights the predators in the financial sector, supports prison reform and drug rehabilitation instead of mandatory long prison sentences and instituted a “Taxpayer Protection Unit” to fight tax dodgers and corruption in the awarding of state contracts.

    He also filed a lawsuit against donald trump for his trump University scheme calling it a bait and switch scam. trump attacked him in the media, but was found “personally liable for operating a for-profit investment school without the required license” by a New York judge (Reuters October 16, 2014). Typical of trump, he sued Schneiderman for $100 million.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Decline of Coal, and a Tale of Sister States | The Secular Jurist

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