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Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photo By Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday his agency will soon decide whether to approve a request to boost economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants.

Between the lines: His remarks dampened prospects that the Trump administration will move to keep a string of these plants open in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

“[The request] may not be the way that we decide is the most appropriate, the most efficient way to address this. It’s not the only way."
Perry at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York

Why it matters: The approval of an emergency order request by utility FirstEnergy Solutions matters for two reasons:

  1. It’s unprecedented in the history of the arcane Energy Department provision, and most independent experts say approving it would be a huge intervention into the competitive power market.
  2. Approving the order would be an explicit way President Trump can show he’s reviving the coal and nuclear industries, a campaign promise.

What’s next: Bob Murray, the CEO of privately-held coal producer Murray Energy, will speak at the same conference on Tuesday at noon ET. The Energy Department denied a similar request by his company last year. Expect fireworks on this topic and more, given Murray will be in a crowd of executives whose companies are largely built around the evolution away from coal.

Go deeper

8 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.