Feb 16, 2019

Trump loses coal fight to Tennessee Valley Authority

Trump holds up a 'Trump Digs Coal' sign at a rally. Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

The Tennessee Valley Authority's board voted Thursday to close 2 coal plants in a lopsided decision that thwarted President Trump's pressure to support coal.

Why it matters: The TVA votes underscore the tough economics facing coal-fired power, which is steadily losing market share to gas and renewables despite White House efforts to revive the sector.

  • "Both are older coal generating units that were not designed to efficiently respond to today’s continually fluctuating power needs of customers," the independent government corporation said in announcing the retirement of the two plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The intrigue: The Washington Post's Steven Mufson writes up a good account of Thursday's decisions...

Three of the four people appointed by Trump to the TVA board joined the 6-1 majority voting to close down the Paradise coal unit, and all four joined the unanimous vote to retire Bull Run.
Trump, who vowed during his campaign to help the coal industry, set up a clash with the TVA with his call to keep open the Paradise 3 unit, which buys much of its coal from a mining company chaired by Robert E. Murray, one of the president’s major donors and supporters.

Go deeper: With natural gas on the rise, U.S. market is moving against coal

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,066,706 — Total deaths: 56,767 — Total recoveries: 223,697Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 258,214 — Total deaths: 6,605 — Total recoveries: 9,408Map.
  3. Business latest: Mark Cuban criticizes "arrogant" 3M on respirator production — The wartime mobilization effort to produce ventilators and medical supplies got started too late.
  4. Politics latest: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are worried about the difficulties of delivering the $2.2 trillion in stimulus aid.
  5. Jobs update: The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in March, but the new report doesn't reflect the height of the virus' impact on the economy.
  6. World update: About half of the deaths worldwide are in Italy and Spain, with fatalities exponentially increasing across Europe.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Mark Cuban criticizes "arrogant" 3M on respirator production

Photo: Axios Events

Businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said during an Axios virtual event Friday that 3M is "arrogant" for not speaking up about respirator production in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

What he said: Cuban criticized the company for "making more globally than domestically," echoing a similar line from President Trump now that the U.S. is the epicenter of the pandemic. "You can't ghost the American people," he told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei from Dallas.

Coronavirus puts ambitious plans for self-driving cars on the shelf

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In two weeks, the coronavirus has brought the entire U.S. auto industry to a screeching halt. When it finally sputters back to life, many companies may be forced to change, defer — or even abandon — their ambitious plans for self-driving vehicles.

The big picture: Auto factories are shut down across North America to prevent the spread of the virus among workers, while stay-at-home orders have kept car shoppers away from showrooms. The resulting financial shock means carmakers have shifted their focus to survival, not investing in expensive technologies with no clear payoff.