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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.

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Why it matters: Investors are facing a "three-headed monster," Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, tells Axios — a worsening pandemic, an economic stimulus package in limbo, and an imminent election.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.