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Coal looks for 'new lease on life'; Trump to nominate DOE official to FERC

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Essential Energy Insights, April 2021


Coal looks for 'new lease on life'; Trump to nominate DOE official to FERC

US coal considers best ways to capitalize on 'new lease on life' under Trump

Despite fierce support for coal from the Trump administration, industry representatives indicated at a recent gathering that they are still seeking strategies to address the challenges facing the sector. "Coal was not set free by this election," panelist Luke Popovich, former spokesman for the National Mining Association, said during an Aug. 7 session at the American Coal Council's Coal Market Strategies conference in New Mexico. "It got a reprieve, an opportunity for a second chance to assess itself and see how it can earn a permanent get-out-of jail pass. The question to me is how does coal use this new opportunity, this new lease on life."

Report: Trump to nominate DOE official Bernard McNamee to FERC

The White House will nominate U.S. Department of Energy official Bernard McNamee to replace outgoing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Robert Powelson, Politico reported Aug. 8. According to LinkedIn, McNamee has served since June as executive director of the DOE's office of policy and was the agency's deputy general counsel for energy policy between May 2017 and February 2018. McNamee also was chief of staff throughout 2015 for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

FERC asserts independence from Trump effort to save coal, nuclear plants

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it has not aided the Trump administration's efforts to craft policies to benefit certain coal-fired and nuclear power plants, maintaining its role as an independent federal agency. A commission spokesman made the comments in response to concerns over FERC's part in helping the U.S. Department of Energy and National Security Council draft a list of power plants they deem critical for grid reliability and that the administration may make eligible for federally mandated financial support. Although FERC provides technical assistance to other agencies on matters within its expertise, the commission "is an independent agency and therefore has not assisted in the development of policy," FERC spokesperson Craig Cano said.

'Sleeping giant' is awake and wants to work with coal, tribal energy rep says

While issues like the development of the Dakota Access pipeline seem to pit the U.S. energy sector against Native American interests, members of some tribes say they are eager to cash in on their vast fossil fuel reserves. "The sleeping giant has awoken and we want to work with industry," said Conrad Stewart of the National Tribal Energy Association, an organization that promotes tribal energy and natural resources development. At the American Coal Council's Coal Market Strategies conference on Aug. 9, Stewart, a member of the Crow tribe who said he spent 10 years as a coal miner, said he is supportive of President Donald Trump and wants U.S. coal companies to know some Native American groups would like to work with them to develop their vast resources.