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DOE looks at law to save coal plants; states back Wash. coal terminal in lawsuit

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DOE looks at law to save coal plants; states back Wash. coal terminal in lawsuit

Perry: DOE looking 'very closely' at defense law to support coal, nuclear plants

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry told federal lawmakers May 9 that the agency is looking "very closely" at using a 1950 national defense law to support economically struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants. The rarely invoked Defense Production Act is one of several federal emergency authorities that coal and nuclear industry groups and the Trump administration have floated to avoid further retirements of power plants they say are needed for grid reliability and national security.

The Defense Production Act was enacted during the Korean War to ensure availability of critical materials and resources for the U.S. national defense. The act also authorizes the government to make loans and loan guarantees to avoid shortfalls of critical resources.

6 states file amicus brief supporting blocked Wash. coal export terminal

Six states filed an amicus brief in support of Lighthouse Resources Inc. in its lawsuit against Washington officials who denied permits for its planned coal export terminal. The $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC, a subsidiary of Lighthouse, would allow the company to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming for export to Asia.

"The interests of interior states in developing foreign trade are now subject to the barriers erected by the policy whims of states that control access to international markets through their ports," the states of Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah said in a May 8 brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Industry groups protest use of emergency authority to subsidize US power plants

A diverse coalition of industry groups that included the American Petroleum Institute and the Electric Power Supply Association told the U.S. Department of Energy that no type of federal emergency authority should be used to subsidize uneconomic power plants.

"Power plant retirements are a normal, healthy feature of electricity markets," the groups wrote. "There is no emergency or threat to the national defense on which the Department could lawfully base the exercise of its emergency authorities."

DOE formally asks for help developing small-scale, modular coal plants

The U.S. Department of Energy formally requested information from stakeholders on developing small-scale, modular coal-based power plants.

The office is looking for plants with greater than 40% efficiency and the ability to respond to flexible demand, a challenge for many older, large coal plants that are now a part of the U.S. coal fleet, according to a May 8 news release.

Options DOE weighing to save coal, nuclear not an 'obvious fit,' FERC head says

The old, rarely employed statutes that the U.S. Energy Department is contemplating using to throw a lifeline to struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants are "perhaps not the most obvious fit" for addressing baseload generation's resilience and national security contributions to the grid, FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre said May 10.

McIntyre's stance was shared by senators and academics who also spoke at a power grid forum hosted by The Washington Post.

EPA official lays out priorities, takes feedback at coal industry conference

At a coal conference in Florida, Mandy Gunasekara, a top official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laid out a six-point priority list for rolling back air regulations and aimed to tamp down reports of internal strife hampering the agency.

The priorities include repealing the Clean Power plan; taking a "serious look" at the role of co-benefits in Mercury and Air Toxics regulation; making changes to an Obama-era methane emissions rule; changing rules for new sources of emissions; tweaking National Ambient Air Quality Standards; and working on "feasible" greenhouse gas standards for vehicles.

US EPA to put mercury rule back in the spotlight with planned rulemaking

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to put its rule governing the emissions of mercury and other toxic substances back in the spotlight by issuing a new notice of proposed rulemaking in August.

Federal agencies updated their spring regulatory agendas May 9, reporting planned rulemaking activities and progress on older initiatives. The EPA reported a new proposed rulemaking will be unveiled around August called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants Residual Risk and Technology Review and Cost Review.

House lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill boosting carbon capture technology

A bipartisan bill aimed at advancing carbon capture research and development was introduced in U.S. House of Representatives on May 10.

Reps. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and David McKinley, R-W.Va., sponsored the Fossil Energy Research & Development Act of 2018, legislation that will bolster funding and provide a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application for carbon capture technologies.