partlycloudy
Thursday June 21st, 2018 7:30PM

Coal executive's 'action plan' finds success under Trump

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the early days of the Trump administration, the head of one of America's largest coal companies sent a four-page "action plan" to the White House calling for rollbacks of Obama-era environmental and mine safety regulations.

"We have listed our suggested actions in order of priority," Robert "Bob" Murray, the chairman and CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy, wrote in his March 1 letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence. "We are available to assist you and your administration in any way that you request."

A review of the memo by The Associated Press shows Murray, an early campaign supporter of President Donald Trump and major GOP political donor, has gotten about half the items on his wish list. They include pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accords and revoking the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama's signature effort to limit planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Murray has spoken widely about his policy priorities in the intervening months, but a copy of his four-page plan became public this week after it was obtained by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and first reported by The New York Times.

Under Trump, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has also moved to reconsider rules meant to protect miners from breathing coal and rock dust — the primary cause of black lung disease — and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer.

Other Murray priorities, such as eliminating federal tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels, have floundered, however. The renewable energy tax breaks were largely retained in the final Republican-drafted tax plan signed by Trump last month.

And despite Trump's campaign pledges to put scores of coal back to work by ending what he and Murray have derided as Obama's "War on Coal," the administration's regulatory rollback has thus far had modest economic benefits.

Only about 500 coal mining jobs were added in Trump's first year, bringing the total to about 50,900 nationally, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nation's utilities have also continued to shutter coal-fired plants in favor of those burning natural gas made cheaper and more abundant by new drilling technologies.

In an interview with the AP on Wednesday, Murray said Trump and his appointees have overall done a great job helping his industry, rating them "nearly a 10" in the first year. He specifically credited Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry with being "stars."

Murray said he had private meetings with both Pruitt and Perry last year to discuss his policy goals.

"President Trump has done a wonderful job in addressing what is needed to improve the cost of electricity in America and to improve the reliability, security and resilience of the electric power grid," Murray said. "I give him very high marks."

Spokespeople for Pruitt and Perry did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday about Murray's action plan.

Murray said he is still hopeful that Pruitt will follow through on the second-highest priority item on his 2017 action plan, revoking EPA's 2009 finding that emitting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere threatens public health and welfare. The finding provided the legal underpinnings for Obama's efforts to regulate carbon emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Murray also expressed disappointment that Trump appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted Monday to reject a proposal by Perry to make coal and nuclear power plants eligible for billions of dollars in government subsidies.

AP reported last year that Murray had asked the Trump administration to issue an emergency order protecting coal-fired power plants from closing. Murray warned that failure to act could cause thousands of coal miners to be laid off and force his largest customer, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions, into bankruptcy.

Perry ultimately rejected Murray's request, but later asked FERC to boost coal and nuclear plants by subsidizing their continued operation.

The Republican-controlled commission voted unanimously to reject Perry's claim that further retirements of coal-fired power plants pose a threat to reliability of the nation's electric grid.

"There's no question about it, there are folks in the administration that have their own agenda, rather than President Trump's," Murray said. "There are some staffers who have gone contrary to the wishes of our president."

__

Follow AP environmental writer Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Number of missing after Calif. mudslide victims surges to 48
The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48
10:31AM ( 6 minutes ago )
UK leader vows Brexit won't weaken environmental standards
Britain's prime minister has announced a 25-year plan to improve the country's environment and eliminate plastic waste, promising that leaving the European Union won't mean lower environmental standards
10:24AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Missouri Gov. Greitens acknowledges affair, denies blackmail
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledges he has been "unfaithful" in his marriage but denies he blackmailed the woman to stay quiet
10:22AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Russia dismisses Democratic Senate report as unfounded
The Kremlin says a new report by Senate Democrats describing Russian interference in the U.S. throughout Europe is unfounded
9:59AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Lawmakers see boost for immigration deal after Trump remarks
Congress' immigration negotiators dig in, hoping to take advantage of a window of opportunity opened by President Donald Trump
8:34AM ( 2 hours ago )
Catalan separatists argue in court for their release
Two recently-elected pro-Catalan independence regional lawmakers and another separatist activist are to appear before a Supreme Court judge to appeal their jailing for events related to Catalonia's push for secession
8:28AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The future of esports arrives with Overwatch League launch
The Overwatch League has been launched in an audacious attempt to showcase esports within a traditional sports structure
9:41AM ( 57 minutes ago )
European Central Bank close to revisiting stimulus program
Top officials at the European Central Bank at their last meeting remained wary of prematurely signaling the next steps in an expected exit from their monetary stimulus polices
9:38AM ( 59 minutes ago )
YouTube punishes star blogger over apparent suicide post
YouTube says it has punished well-known blogger Logan Paul over a video that appeared to show a body hanging in a Japanese forest that is said to be a suicide spot
9:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Samsung targeted by French lawsuit amid alleged labor abuse
Two French rights groups have filed a lawsuit against electronics giant Samsung, accusing it of misleading advertising because of alleged labor violations at factories in China and South Korea
7:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
N Korea: Popularity of 'Fire and Fury' foretells Trump's end
North Korea has found good material to attack U.S. President Donald Trump: Michael Wolff's bombshell new book, "Fire and Fury"
3:41AM ( 6 hours ago )
China's modern Silk Road hits political, financial hurdles
China's plan to expand trade across Asia and Europe with a modern Silk Road of railways and other infrastructure is hitting political and financial hurdles
12:29AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Global stocks stabilize after China-led wobble
Global stock markets stabilize after China-led wobble, oil prices rise
7:39AM ( 2 hours ago )
German economy grew in 2017 at fastest pace in 6 years
Official data show that the German economy, Europe's biggest, accelerated last year to grow by 2.2 percent
5:49AM ( 4 hours ago )
Global shares steady after Wall Street rally fizzles
Global stock markets steady after Wall Street posts first losses of 2018
5:01AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Another GOP governor seeks exclusion from drilling proposal
Another Republican governor is asking the Trump administration to exclude his state from a plan to open more U.S. coastal waters to offshore oil drilling
5:39AM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump lender, other convicted banks get reprieves from feds
Five banks, including a big lender to President Donald Trump, have received temporary reprieves from the administration to run businesses that they otherwise would have had to shut down after criminal convictions
7:21PM ( 15 hours ago )
Dems say Trump action on Florida drilling guided by politics
Opposition to the Trump administration's plan to expand offshore drilling mounts
7:20PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: NYC sues oil companies over climate change
New York City is suing five major oil companies, claiming they have contributed to global warming
11:57AM ( 22 hours ago )
Iran firm says there may be survivors from tanker crash
Iranian company whose oil tanker burst into flames after collision in East China Sea says there's still hope
1:04AM ( 1 day ago )
Politically important Florida gets a pass on drilling plan
The Trump administration's plan to open up U.S. coastline for offshore drilling is making room for an exception _ the state of Florida
12:47AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Number of missing after Calif. mudslide victims surges to 48
The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48
10:31AM ( 6 minutes ago )
UK leader vows Brexit won't weaken environmental standards
Britain's prime minister has announced a 25-year plan to improve the country's environment and eliminate plastic waste, promising that leaving the European Union won't mean lower environmental standards
10:24AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Missouri Gov. Greitens acknowledges affair, denies blackmail
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledges he has been "unfaithful" in his marriage but denies he blackmailed the woman to stay quiet
10:22AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Local governments won't say what they're offering Amazon
Many state and local governments competing for Amazon's second headquarters are refusing to disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they are offering the online giant
10:17AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Denmark, Greenland sign deal to clean up US military waste
Denmark and its autonomous Arctic island of Greenland have signed an agreement to clean up U.S. military installations that were left to rust in the pristine landscape after the Cold War
10:16AM ( 21 minutes ago )