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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

57 mins ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.