Energy agency rejects Trump plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants

The unexpected decision by the Republican-controlled body is a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling US coal industry

Donald Trump holds a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, in August 2017. More than 500 coal-generating units were retired between 2002 and 2016
 Donald Trump holds a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, in August 2017. More than 500 coal-generating units were retired between 2002 and 2016 Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

An independent energy agency on Monday rejected a Trump administration plan to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants with subsidies, dealing a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling coal industry.

The decision by the Republican-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was unexpected and comes amid repeated promises by Trump to rejuvenate coal as the nation’s top power source. The industry has been besieged by multiple bankruptcies and a steady loss of market share as natural gas and renewable energy have flourished.

Energy secretary Rick Perry last year proposed fresh government support for coal-fired and nuclear power plants in an effort to slow the rate at which these units are being phased out, stating the output is needed to avoid power outages “in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters”.

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