Updated Mar 15, 2018

Coal-state Republicans push longshot coal tax credit

A pile of coal at a West Virginia plant. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Six House Republicans representing coal-intensive states introduced a bill Wednesday creating a new tax credit subsidizing virtually all coal plants across the U.S., as a way to support the reliability of America’s electric grid.

Why it matters: It’s the latest effort by the coal lobby and its backers in Washington to support the economically struggling fleet of coal plants after the Energy Department’s efforts to boost their revenues through power-market rules was rejected by independent federal regulators.

Flashback: The coal lobby has been trying for months to get Congress to introduce this proposal, as I reported exclusively in this December column.

Gritty details: Rep. Larry Bucshon, Republican from Indiana, introduced the bill along with five other Republicans: Joe Barton of Texas, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Andy Barr of Kentucky, and David McKinley and Evan Jenkins of West Virginia.

One level deeper: A parallel effort I wrote about in December, a similar tax credit for existing nuclear plants, surfaced in bipartisan legislation introduced late last year by Rep. Patrick Meehan, Republican from Pennsylvania. Unlike coal, nuclear power brings with it Democratic support because it doesn’t emit any carbon when burned as electricity.

Bottom line: Both of these efforts are long shots given Congress is not in the mood for creating wholly new tax subsidies, whose price tags will be into the billions (though likely less than the December proposals). The measures nonetheless show the strong influence industry has with Congress.

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Democrats lay out demands for coronavirus funding

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement Thursday outlining their demands for coronavirus funding, including a guarantee that the eventual vaccine is affordable.

The big picture: Pelosi criticized the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, calling it "chaotic" and chiding President Trump for "name-calling" and "playing politics." She added at a press conference that bipartisan congressional leaders are nearing an agreement on emergency funding.

Coronavirus updates: Japan closes schools and Saudi Arabia bans holy site visits

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

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Wall Street falls into correction territory as coronavirus rout intensifies

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

The S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq all entered correction territory on Thursday, down 10% from their recent record highs amid a global market rout that began earlier this week following a spike in the coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: Stocks fell more than 3% for a time on Thursday morning, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008, according to CNBC.