Gov. Justice Asks Trump For $4.5 Million for Coal

Claudine Rigal
Août 11, 2017

Justice said that while Trump's deregulation efforts had been a boon to West Virginia, eastern coal remains at risk due to rising competition from natural gas and coal in western states, the Wall Street Journal reports. The money would be allocated to pay eastern power plants $15 for each ton of thermal coal they buy from the Central or Northern Appalachian region, which includes parts of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

He suggested the payments come from the Department of Homeland Security because it's a national security issue.

"The survivability of the eastern coalfields is very, very iffy", Justice said. USA power plants burned at least 110 million short tons of Appalachian coal in 2016, according to Andrew Cosgrove, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Justice, who said he's also talked about the proposal with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Vice President Pence and Trump adviser Jared Kushner, warned that the U.S. is too dependent on natural gas to generate power.

Asked whether Trump is considering Justice's plan to prop up the coal industry, White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said there's nothing to announce at this time. About 300 million tons of coal are sold there in a year.

If terrorists blew up gas pipelines or disrupted the supply of coal being shipped from mines in the west, Justice said the consequences could be catastrophic.

"Can you imagine what would happen if we lost the power in the east for a month, or two months, or three months?" "It would be like a nuclear blast went off". "And looking at the other side, you would put thousands and thousands and thousands of people to work, and the net-net of that is that the $4.5 billion would get eroded tremendously, so that it may end up costing nearly nothing".

Justice insisted that renewables could one day be the primary source of USA electricity generation, but says he's not sure whether that'll come in 10, 20 or 30 years. "But today we don't have the renewables in place".

While it's legitimate to worry about the reliability of the USA power grid, the decline of the coal industry isn't raising much of a threat at a time of cheap and abundant gas and fast-growing wind and solar power, said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.

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