WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has rejected a coal industry push to win a rarely used emergency order protecting coal-fired power plants, a decision contrary to what one coal executive said the president personally promised him.
The Energy Department says it considered issuing the order sought by companies seeking relief for plants it says are overburdened by environmental rules and market stresses. But the department ultimately ruled it was unnecessary, and the White House agreed, a spokeswoman said.
The decision is a rare example of friction between the beleaguered coal industry and the president who has vowed to save it. It also highlights a pattern emerging as the administration crafts policy: The president’s bold declarations — both public and private — are not always carried through to implementation.
President Donald Trump committed to the measure in private conversations with executives from Murray Energy Corp. and FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. after public events in July and early August, according to letters to the White House from Murray Energy and its chief executive, Robert Murray. In the letters, obtained by The Associated Press, Murray said failing to act would cause thousands of coal miners to be laid off and put the pensions of thousands more in jeopardy. One of Murray’s letters said Trump agreed and told Energy Secretary Rick Perry, “I want this done” in Murray’s presence.
The White House declined to say whether Trump did initially agree to Murray’s request for help. But in a statement on Tuesday, administration spokeswoman Kelly Love wrote that the proposal was not the right way to support the coal industry.
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