Jun 19, 2018

Energy Department official defends administration's plan for coal, nuclear energy

Smoke coming out of a coal plant. Photo: Omar Maruqes/SOPA images via Getty Images

Ben Walker, the Department of Energy's assistant secretary for the Office of Electricity, said the department is "uniquely situated" as part of the intelligence community and makes "classified intelligence decisions," to secure the United States in response to criticism of administration plans to aid economically struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants on the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast.

Why it matters: The comment shows how the department is positioning itself at a time when many critics from various quarters say the potential aid is unneeded and accuse the administration of grafting a new post-facto rationale onto their longstanding goal of saving coal plants.

Yes, but: Walker and other officials are arguing, in essence, that they have classified material that strengthens their case, and other parties are not as well equipped to understand.

Dig deeper: Walker discusses his office's work on security and assessing vulnerabilities more broadly.

"We’re not only looking at coal, nuclear generation, we’re looking at all generation and we’re looking at how the grid comes together which is why my team has been focused on developing the North American resiliency model which is focused on understanding and highlighting the interdependencies of the different systems," he said.

Flashback: Axios' Amy Harder looked at the national security debate around the grid here.

Go deeper

China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.