The Trump administration could call Thursday “National Coal Day.”
Several Cabinet officials are spreading out to push clean coal, coal power plants and coal mining.
The activities got started Wednesday afternoon when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Native American leaders to brainstorm ways the Trump administration can help prevent one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the country from shutting down in Arizona.
The owners of the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal plant in the West, said they would close the plant in 2019 due to increased competition from natural gas, but might have to shutdown earlier if they can’t get a better lease agreement with the Navajo Nation, where the plant is located. The plant provides electricity to a number of states and is a major source of income and employment for the Navajo.
David Palumbo, deputy commissioner for operations at Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, said the administration is hopeful they can reach an agreement to extend operations beyond 2019, but are planning for the worst if the plant is forced to close. “We maintain our commitment to support these productive and constructive talks and have proposed to participate in the coming weeks,” Palumbo said. “At the same time, we recognize this is a difficult task among the stakeholders and therefore are exploring ways to minimize negative impacts should the plant close.”
On Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry will travel to his home state of Texas to celebrate the opening of an advanced clean coal power plant that has been under construction for years. The power plant generates electricity while stripping out the carbon dioxide from the waste stream. The CO2 is then used by oil drillers to get to hard-to-reach petroleum deposits deep underground in a process known as enhanced oil recovery.
The Petra Nova plant “is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture project,” the Energy Department said in a notice about Perry’s visit. The project is a joint venture between U.S. utility firm NRG Energy and the Tokyo-based JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. The project also received support from the Department of Energy.
Perry will be delivering remarks as part of a ribbon cutting ceremony, officially opening the plant.
Finally on Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will be traveling to coal country in Pennsylvania to kick off what the agency is calling its “Back to Basics” agenda.
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