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Matthew Brown / AP

The Trump administration has rejected a coal industry bid for the sweeping use of federal emergency powers to keep coal-fired power plants operating, according to a detailed Associated Press report.

  • The story focuses on a request for assistance from the coal mining company Murray Energy, whose CEO Robert Murray is a major Trump backer, for a two-year moratorium on coal-fired power plant closures.
  • But AP also notes there has been broader coal industry interest in a federal moratorium.
  • Why it matters: The pleas are a sign that administration steps to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations won't be enough, on their own, to save some coal plants as cheap natural gas, as well as renewable energy, eats into coal's market share.

Another is that the rejection of the Murray Energy CEO's request signals that while the administration is aggressively paring back regulations, there are limits to how far White House and other officials can or will go to directly prop up the sector.

In a statement to Axios, a White House spokesperson said:

"President Trump has followed through on his unwavering commitment to the nation's coal miners. Whether through repealing the Clean Power Plan and the 'Waters of the U.S. Rule,' removing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, or signing legislation to overturn rules and policies designed to stop coal mining, President Trump continues to fight for miners every day. Invoking Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act in this manner at this time is not an appropriate use of this authority."

From AP: "The Energy Department says it considered issuing the order sought by companies seeking relief for plants it says are overburdened by environmental regulations and market stresses. But the department ultimately ruled it was unnecessary, and the White House agreed, a spokeswoman said."

The backstory: AP obtained letters from Murray to the White House claiming that President Trump had previously committed to the federal action in private talks with officials from Murray Energy and the power company FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has already used the Federal Power Act twice in "narrow ways" at utilities' request to keep old coal-fired power plants running past their planned retirement dates, due to concerns that shutdowns could create power shortages, according to AP.

Go deeper

Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.