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Editorial: Trump bailout turns free market upside down

Editorial: Trump bailout turns free market upside down

Americans of a certain age likely remember Tennessee Ernie Ford, a TV entertainer whose musical rendition of a coal miner’s lament, “Sixteen Tons,” sold millions of records in the mid-1950s. Written a decade earlier by a former Kentucky coal miner, “Sixteen Tons” opened with the evocative question: “You load sixteen tons, what do you get?” In his sonorous baritone voice, Ford offered up a doleful reply. What you get when you load sixteen tons of number nine coal, he sang, is “another day older and deeper in debt.”

More than a half century later, Texas Rick Perry, the nation’s energy secretary, knows whereof Tennessee Ernie sang. Although Perry can’t admit it, he knows that coal-mining is a dying industry and, despite its proud tradition, a dangerous, dead end occupation for fewer and fewer American workers. Texas Rick knows that, and yet, “bless his little, ol’ pea-pickin’ heart” — as Tennessee Ernie would have exclaimed — he’s now having to warble his own coal-mining ditty.

Perry has been ordered by President Trump to prepare immediate steps to keep money-losing coal and nuclear plants from shutting down. One plan under consideration is to require operators of the nation’s electricity grid to buy power or reserve generation capacity from plants scheduled to be retired. Phillip Bump of the Washington Post has compared the Trump/Perry plan to “having a failing grocery store in your neighborhood and the government mandating that everyone do enough of their shopping there to keep the place from shutting down.”

Never mind that we consumers will be paying more for our “groceries” under the Trump directive. Never mind that coal is losing out in a power market dominated by cheap natural gas and increasingly efficient forms of renewable energy. What’s important is an ongoing effort by the White House to fulfill an implausible Trump campaign promise to bail out the coal and nuclear industries and to reward the operators who are his cronies. Perry, if he wants to keep his job, can only salute his boss—and betray his oft-proclaimed faith in the free market.

Texans can appreciate the irony. This is the erstwhile governor who was so “fed up,” he even wrote a book, an impassioned screed decrying federal government intervention. Gov. Perry would have sneered at the blatant government intervention in the free market that Secretary Perry insists is necessary, and he would have scoffed at the “national security” rationale offered up by the White House.

Now, of course, Perry—and we—are at the mercy of a president so ill-informed about the environment that he would reverse the progress we’ve made with natural gas and renewables. If Trump’s unprecedented effort to intervene in the energy market goes forward, whether through mandates or subsidies, then both natural gas and Texas suffers, and so does the rest of the country.

More: Perry vs. Texas: Coal bailout will sell out wind and natural gas [Editorial]

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Houston Chronicle/ ieefa

BY:  Editorial

LINK:  http://ieefa.org/editorial-trump-bailout-turns-free-market-upside-down/

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Perry vs. Texas: Coal bailout will sell out wind and natural gas [Editorial]

President Trump has ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare steps that would keep coal and nuclear plants from shutting down. CPS Energy's coal plants Spruce 2, left, Spruce 1, center, and Deely are seen on Calaveras Lake near San Antonio. Photo: LISA KRANTZ, STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Americans of a certain age likely remember Tennessee Ernie Ford, a TV entertainer whose musical rendition of a coal miner’s lament, “Sixteen Tons,” sold millions of records in the mid-1950s. Written a decade earlier by a former Kentucky coal miner, “Sixteen Tons” opened with the evocative question: “You load sixteen tons, what do you get?”

In his sonorous baritone voice, Ford offered up a doleful reply. What you get when you load sixteen tons of number nine coal, he sang, is “another day older and deeper in debt.”

More than a half century later, Texas Rick Perry, the nation’s energy secretary, knows whereof Tennessee Ernie sang. Although Perry can’t admit it, he knows that coal-mining is a dying industry and, despite its proud tradition, a dangerous, dead end occupation for fewer and fewer American workers. Texas Rick knows that, and yet, “bless his little, ol’ pea-pickin’ heart” — as Tennessee Ernie would have exclaimed — he’s now having to warble his own coal-mining ditty.

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Perry has been ordered by President Trump to prepare immediate steps to keep money-losing coal and nuclear plants from shutting down. One plan under consideration is to require operators of the nation’s electricity grid to buy power or reserve generation capacity from plants scheduled to be retired. Phillip Bump of the Washington Post has compared the Trump/Perry plan to “having a failing grocery store in your neighborhood and the government mandating that everyone do enough of their shopping there to keep the place from shutting down.”

Never mind that we consumers will be paying more for our “groceries” under the Trump directive. Never mind that coal is losing out in a power market dominated by cheap natural gas and increasingly efficient forms of renewable energy. What’s important is an ongoing effort by the White House to fulfill an implausible Trump campaign promise to bail out the coal and nuclear industries and to reward the operators who are his cronies. Perry, if he wants to keep his job, can only salute his boss — and betray his oft-proclaimed faith in the free market.

Texans can appreciate the irony. This is the erstwhile governor who was so “fed up,” he even wrote a book, an impassioned screed decrying federal government intervention. Gov. Perry would have sneered at the blatant government intervention in the free market that Secretary Perry insists is necessary, and he would have scoffed at the “national security” rationale offered up by the White House.

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Perry is also the former governor who presided over the fracking revolution that originated, for the most part, in Texas, as well as a rollicking wind-energy market that now produces as much wind power as the next three states combined. Innovation and the free market led to spectacular successes.

Now, of course, Perry — and we — are at the mercy of a president so ill-informed about the environment that he would reverse the progress we’ve made with natural gas and renewables. If Trump’s unprecedented effort to intervene in the energy market goes forward, whether through mandates or subsidies, then both natural gas and Texas suffers, and so does the rest of the country.

Last January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, dominated by Trump appointees, unanimously rejected a similar scheme that Perry’s Energy Department concocted, a scheme that would have bailed out coal and nuclear power plants by raising consumer energy bills. Whether FERC will again object is an open question, but for everyone who cares about the environment — and, yes, free markets, Secretary Perry — it’s time to resist again. “With one fist of iron and the other of steel” — to quote ol’ Tennessee Ernie — it’s time yet again to stand up and fight.

LINK:  https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Perry-vs-Texas-Coal-bailout-will-sell-out-wind-12973728.php

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