Cantwell Addresses “Elephant in the Room” at FERC Hearing: Trump Coal Bailout

“I know that the President wants to deliver on this but the grid operators say the emergency does not exist.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the Trump administration’s plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants in the name of “national defense.”

“I know that the President wants to deliver on this but the grid operators say the emergency does not exist,” said Senator Cantwell.

Two weeks ago, the National Security Council met to consider a 40-page memo arguing that extraordinary action is needed to require utilities to buy electricity from uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants to prevent their retirement. 

“The Commission’s work is so complex but it shouldn’t be about bailing out one sector,” said Senator Cantwell. “Just and reasonable is such an important aspect of what you do in holding down energy costs to consumers. That’s your job. That is your day job at the Federal level. That is why we have a FERC,” said Senator Cantwell, referring to the Commission’s standards for determining wholesale energy rates under the Federal Power Act.

Senator Cantwell applauded the Commission for rejecting the Trump administration’s first attempt to bolster the economically struggling industry but also told Commissioners that the President’s coal bailout threatens their independent authority.

“In my view, you started things off right by rejecting Secretary Perry’s radical proposal to force consumers to bail out uncompetitive coal,” Cantwell said. “I really do believe not only is the underlying policy wrong I also believe that it is a threat on your independence and oversight to be directed this way.”

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found here.

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s questions can be found here.

Witness testimony will be available online immediately before the start of each hearing on the committee website.