This National Security Issue is Fake
The administration is trying to prop up the coal industry and aging nuclear power plants artificially through the US Energy Department. A leaked memo directs power companies to purchase power generated by coal-fired plants and nuclear plants. Details of the draft memo, dated May 29 and circulated ahead of a National Security Council meeting, were first reported by Bloomberg News. According to the memo, the US Department of Energy (DOE) could exercise emergency authority under national security laws to force grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear facilities.
The administration’s rationale for this move is resiliency in the face of a national emergency, stating in the memo that energy from these sources is “reliable,” and “stored” at these facilities. It further states that energy from renewable resources like wind and solar is “intermittent,” and therefore places the US power grid at risk from attack, natural disaster, and other threats to national security. CNBC reported that IF the administration follows this proposal, “that would mean the administration will force electric grid operators to buy power from plants that have become uncompetitive and are at risk of closing.”
There were immediate statements of support for this plan from coal industry spokesmen such as Murray Energy, and coal industry advocate Sen. Manchin (D – West Virginia). At the same time, there was a major outcry against this nonsense from an unusual group of bedfellows, from the American Petroleum Institute to the Sierra Club. Grid operators were also highly critical of this expensive and unnecessary support of declining industries. Market forces are reducing dependence on coal and nuclear energy; propping them up with the excuse of “national security” will not save them in the long run.
What the administration refuses to see is right in front of it. In the short run, the very real major threat to national security, and our planet, is climate change. The best way to deal with the impact on the power grid of natural disasters, such as the increases in flooding and wildfires happening right now, is to reduce our carbon output, not increase it. That includes ending our dependence on coal. POTUS is not going to “make coal great again” by crying national security.
–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force
1. bloomberg.com; May 31, updated June 1
2. CNBC.com; June 1, updated June 4