Jun 1, 2018

In focus: Trump's coal and nuclear bailout

Trump shaking hands with a coal miner. Photo: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Bloomberg broke a story last night about the emerging structure of long-discussed Trump administration efforts to aid economically struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

Why it matters: Per their story, the plan would "represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets."

One level deeper: The news service obtained a memo — circulated ahead of a National Security Council meeting scheduled for today — describing plans for Energy Department use of emergency powers to force grid operators to buy power or power capacity from at-risk plants.

  • "The agency also is making plans to establish a 'Strategic Electric Generation Reserve' with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies," Bloomberg reports.

To be sure: Bloomberg notes that there's "no indication whether" Trump has signed off on the plan or when it might be implemented.

Between the lines: The story is the latest twist in intense political and lobbying battle over the fate of power plants that will or might go offline under market pressure from cheap natural gas, stagnant demand and the growth of renewables.

  • Administration officials argue that action to keep coal and nuclear plants going is essential for the reliability and resilience of the power system, but the claim is hotly disputed by many experts.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

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 continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."