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

Louisiana braces for 3rd hurricane in 2 months as Zeta closes in

The probable path of Zeta, per the National Hurricane Center. Photo: NHC/NOAA

Zeta strengthened into a hurricane again early Wednesday and was on track to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana by the afternoon, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Unrest in Philadelphia after fatal police shooting of Black man

Demonstrators rally on Tuesday near the location where Walter Wallace was killed by two police officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized Tuesday during a tense second night of protests in Philadelphia over the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man.

Driving the news: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a joint statement a "full investigation" would be launched to answer questions that arose from video that captured part of Monday's incident.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

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