Green groups and opponents of nuclear energy welcomed a decision by federal regulators late Monday to reject a "ludicrous" plan put forth by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have forced taxpayers and ratepayers to bail out the struggling coal and nuclear industries.
The decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) comes after Perry last year submitted a contentious plan that called for subsidizing the nation's coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are no longer economically viable on their own. According to Bloomberg, "Consumers in more than a dozen states would have foot the bill, which could have totaled billions."
"It's no surprise it was resoundingly rejected by even the industry-friendly commission, just as it's no surprise that Secretary Perry continues to demonstrate he has no idea what he's doing overseeing our nation’s energy infrastructure." —Janet Redman, Oil Change InternationalThough dominated by Trump-appointed commissioners, FERC said Perry's plan did not meet legal and statutory requirements.
Damon Moglen, ssenior strategic advisor for Friends of the Earth, credited the tens of thousands of people wrote to FERC demanding the agency reject Perry's "ludicrous proposal" to bailout financially bankrupt and environmentally damaging nuclear and coal projects.
"No matter how forceful industry lobbying, the market factors simply dictate that nuclear and coal power plants should be replaced by cheaper, cleaner, and safer solar and wind power," Moglen said. "This is a good day for the public and a good day for the cause of addressing catastrophic climate change."
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Neil Waggoner, a campaigner with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Ohio, agreed. "FERC made the right decision," he said. "It does not make sense to force electric customers to pay more to bail out old, dirty, uneconomic coal and nuclear plants."
According to Janet Redmen, U.S. policy director for Oil Change International, the agency's decision to reject Perry's plan should have been an easy one. The proposal, she said, "was nothing more than a massive bailout for the coal and nuclear industries. It's no surprise it was resoundingly rejected by even the industry-friendly commission, just as it's no surprise that Secretary Perry continues to demonstrate he has no idea what he's doing overseeing our nation’s energy infrastructure."
While welcoming the decision, Redman said that FERC—which has a long and troubling track record of backing the interests of fossil fuel companies over the concerns of environmental campaigners—has a long way to go in terms of helping the nation steer a course towards a sustainable energy future that shuns fossil fuels and nuclear power in favor of renewables.
"Well know FERC is really intent on setting a course for a brighter future when they actually start taking our climate crisis seriously," she said. "By ignoring the climate impacts of gas pipelines, export terminals, and other fossil fuel projects, FERC continues to hold us back while doing the industry’s bidding."
Monday's decision, Redman concluded, "was the right one, but FERC needs to do a lot more to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and safeguard our climate before they earn our applause."