Former Donald Trump campaign manager and definitely-not-a-lobbyist Corey Lewandowski blamed the “deep state” for rejecting a Department of Energy proposal that would have subsidized coal and nuclear power plants, even though a majority of the government commission that unanimously rejected the rule are Trump appointees.
On Monday, all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to shelve the so-called “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule,” which would have tipped the energy market’s scales in favor of coal and nuclear power plants — and against their solar-, wind- and natural gas-based competitors — due to their ability to store fuel on-site.
Four of the commission’s five members were appointed by President Donald Trump, multiple outlets noted.
The New York Times cited an analysis from Resources for the Future that found that the new rule would have cost electricity end-users $72 billion between 2020 and 2045 (not to mention an estimated $217 billion in environmental damages in that time.) Another estimate from ICF, cited by Politico in November, found it could cost ratepayers $3.8 billion annually through 2030.
And a bipartisan group of eight former FERC commissioners wrote to the commission’s current members in October, urging them to reject the proposal.
But to Lewandowski, the commission’s public decision was actually the result of a deep state insurgency.
Left unsaid: One of Trump’s largest financial backers, and perhaps the loudest advocate in his ear for coal country, Robert Murray, would have benefitted massively from the rule.
Despite Murray’s protestations to Greenwire in November that he “didn’t have any involvement” in drafting the proposal, In These Times published photographs the next month showing Murray at a March meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, handing him a document that the publication’s Kate Aronoff described as “a proposal to alter the policies of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to favor coal plants, as a way to increase ‘grid reliability.’”
The photos, incidentally, also show Perry hugging Murray. The then-Texas governor received more than $100,000 during his 2012 presidential run from Murray Energy donations, the publication noted.
Also left unsaid: An August report from Politico, citing unnamed senior White House officials and records, that Lewandowski advocated for Murray and another coal company’s interests at meetings at the White House and with senior administration officials in the spring and summer of 2017. The coal magnate himself, Politico noted in November, had made “personal pleas for help in face-to-face meeting with Trump and DOE officials, including Perry and Brian McCormack, Perry’s chief of staff.”
That effort — a separate attempt to pressure Trump to declare an emergency to keep certain ailing coal plants open — failed.
But one unnamed senior White House official told the publication, despite Lewandowski’s denials that he worked for either company: “This was entirely a Lewandowski production.”
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