In an unusual turn of events, the pro-fossil Trump administration has turned down a cry for help from one of America’s best-known coal barons and most avid Trump supporters—and may have broken a direct promise made by the former reality TV star before witnesses, the Associated Press reports.
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Now, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray claims Trump promised in two private meetings earlier this summer to invoke a rarely-used provision in the U.S. Federal Power Act to prohibit the closures of any additional coal-fired power plants for a period of at least two years. The Act allows such government direct control under conditions of “emergency, such as war or natural disaster,” the AP writes.
Murray Energy is one of the United States’ largest coal companies, and its CEO is an outspoken advocate for his industry who recently sued TV comedian John Oliver for calling him a “geriatric Dr. Evil”.
In a letter addressed to the White House, Murray said his company sought the action as “the only viable mechanism” to prevent a key customer, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions, from shuttering more coal generation. “Without FirstEnergy’s plants burning his coal, Murray said his own company would be forced into ‘immediate bankruptcy,’ triggering the layoffs of more than 6,500 miners,” the outlet reports.
Murray claims in his letter that Trump specifically promised to invoke the provision, under the cover of declaring an emergency in the electric power grid, during a meeting after a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 25 this year. Citing Murray’s letter, AP reports that “the president told [Energy Secretary Rick] Perry three times, ‘I want this done’”. Murray claims the commitment was repeated again during private meeting in Huntington, West Virginia in early August.
Nonetheless, after considering Murray’s request, AP reports, Perry’s department “ultimately ruled it was unnecessary, and the White House agreed.”