Coal Plants Not Reopening Under Trump: Federal Utility CEO | NECN
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first year as president

Coal Plants Not Reopening Under Trump: Federal Utility CEO

Natural gas prices, not regulation, caused the recent downturn for coal, Johnson said

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at overturning environmental regulations and reviving the coal industry. Trump also railed against a so-called "War on Coal" as well as general federal regulations in his speech prior to signing the order, promising to strike down regulations in every industry by the "thousands."

    (Published Tuesday, March 28, 2017)

    The CEO of the nation's biggest public utility said Tuesday that the agency isn't going to reopen coal-fired power plants under President Donald Trump, who has promised a comeback for the downtrodden coal industry.

    Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Bill Johnson said he thinks very little will actually change for the federal utility under Trump.

    TVA has said it's on track to cut its carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. By the end of 2018, the utility will have retired five of its original 11 coal-fired power plants.

    Trump, meanwhile, has begun repealing President Barack Obama-era environmental regulations aimed at reducing pollution from mining and burning coal. He has promised to repeal and already ordered a review of the Clean Power Plan, Obama's centerpiece push to curb climate change by limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants.

    Senate Struggles With Health Care as Trump Signs VA Bill

    [NATL] Senate Struggles With Health Care Reform as Trump Signs VA Bill

    Just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released details of the Senate revised health care bill, five conservative senators expressed dissent with the current language of the bill. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, signed a law that makes it easier for the Department of Veteran Affairs to fire employees as part of a push for an agency overhaul. 

    (Published Friday, June 23, 2017)

    Johnson said the retirement of many of TVA's coal plants was the cheapest way to serve customers, which include more than 9 million people in seven southeastern states. Natural gas prices, not regulation, caused the recent downturn for coal, Johnson said.

    "Our statutory duty is to produce electricity at the lowest feasible rate," Johnson said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And when we decided to close the coal plants, that was the math we were doing. We weren't trying to comply with the Clean Power Plan or anything else. What's the cheapest way to serve the customer? It turned out to be retiring those coal plants."

    Johnson acknowledged that Trump could try to change the direction of the agency. By May, Trump can fill five of nine TVA board slots to establish a new majority. The U.S. Senate confirms them.

    TVA hasn't had direct discussions with the administration about the agency's direction or been invited to meet top administration officials yet, Johnson said.

    As a federal employee, Johnson said that he cannot comment on Trump's efforts to peel back U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other coal-related regulations.

    Among those, Trump has moved to end a moratorium on the sale of coal mining leases on federal lands, and he signed a measure to block an Obama-era regulation that aimed to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams.

    Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    [NATL] Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell released the GOP's health care overhaul on Thursday. The 142-page proposal includes massive cuts to Medicaid, cuts in taxes for the wealthy and defunding of Planned Parenthood for at least one year. The Congressional Budget Office has not had a chance to score the Senate's bill yet. Under the House bill, the CBO found found that 23 million Americans would lose their   coverage by 2026.

    (Published Thursday, June 22, 2017)

    Johnson said he recalls "cinders falling from the sky" and not being able to see across the street when he lived in Pittsburgh in his younger years.

    "If we look at the history of the environment in this country, and whether it's improved or not since the creation of the EPA, I believe that we can say that it has improved dramatically," Johnson said.