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A coal-fired power plant in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

President Trump appeared to signal Thursday that he'll soon examine a plea by the financially struggling power company, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp., for the Energy Department (DOE) to support the operation of its coal-fired and nuclear plants.

Why it matters: Trump's remarks in West Virginia lacked detail, but nonetheless show that the controversial request for DOE to make sweeping use of its emergency powers has landed on the White House's radar screen.

What he said: According to tweets from Argus Media's Chris Knight and other reports, Trump said, "We'll be looking at that 202, you know what a 202 is, we'll be looking at that, we're trying," and "About nine of your people just came up to me outside, could you talk about 202, and we'll be looking at that as soon as we get back."

What that probably means: It's an apparent reference to FirstEnergy's March 29 request for DOE to use its powers under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to keep companies' coal-fired and nuclear plants running and ensure they're "compensated fairly."

One level deeper: As we noted in Axios' Generate newsletter last week, FirstEnergy wants DOE to alter market conditions in the PJM Interconnection region, which covers all or parts of 13 states — including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia — and contains a substantial number of coal and nuclear plants operated by multiple companies.

  • Their filing says DOE should order PJM to ensure financially challenged coal and nuclear plants are compensated by ratepayers for the "full benefits they provide to energy markets and the public at large, including fuel security and diversity."

DOE has said they are reviewing the request.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
10 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.