June 01, 2018

Manchin Encouraged by Consideration of Defense Production Act to Save Coal-Fired Power Plants

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is encouraged that President Trump and the Department of Energy are considering the use of the Defense Production Act and other statutory authorities, to protect only clean-burning coal-fired power plants that have invested in emissions controls and to further ensure our nation’s security. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Manchin first encouraged President Trump, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to examine the Defense Production Act in April. The Defense Production Act was enacted on September 8, 1950 at the start of the Korean War. It has been reauthorized over 50 times and is designed to support U.S. civil defense, war mobilization efforts and homeland security, as well as to support emergency management efforts. 

“I am glad President Trump and his Administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security,” Senator Manchin said. “The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply. The ability to produce reliable electricity and to recover from disruptions to our grid are critical to ensuring our nation’s security against the various threats facing our nation today – whether those threats be extreme weather events or adversarial foreign actors. The Defense Production Act grants the President the authority to ensure that the nation’s domestic industrial base is capable of providing the essential materials and resources needed to defend our nation and protect our sovereignty and it recognizes energy production and critical infrastructure as strategic and crucial to that goal.” 

As recent extreme weather events show, the ongoing loss of additional coal-fired and nuclear power will pose a significant risk to the electric grid because these units provide resilience and essential reliability services to our nation's electric grid - indispensable attributes to the delivery of electricity in our country. Coal-fired and nuclear power plants continue to do a lot of the heavy lifting when the bulk power system is put to the test. In the case of coal specifically, the National Energy Technology Lab stated that, during the 2018 Bomb Cyclone at the height of peak demand on January 5, 2018, “had coal been removed, a 9-18 GW shortfall would have developed.”  NETL went on to conclude that, “In the case of PJM, it can also be shown that the demand could not have been met without coal.”