Coal magnate Robert Murray has gotten a lot for his money by donating to Trump.
Trump is demanding that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) keep open an aging coal-fired power plant in Kentucky that is losing money for the TVA — but just happens to be making money for a big donor of Trump's.
TVA is planning on closing the Paradise #3 Coal Plant because it doesn't make any money. The cost to operate the plant is about the same as the amount it makes from selling power wholesale. With that, it would seem that it just makes economic sense for TVA to shut it down.
But the power plant also buys much of its coal from a company owned by a major Trump donor. That might be why Trump waded into the discussion Monday afternoon, tweeting that coal is "an important part of our electricity generation mix" and calling on TVA to give serious consideration to "all factors" before it votes to close "viable power plants."
The only viable power plant Trump identified in the tweet just happened to be Paradise #3 — a power plant that is, in reality, not viable at all.
Paradise #3 gets most of its coal from a subsidiary of the Murray Energy company, owned by Robert Murray. Murray also just happens to be a huge Trump supporter.
In the 2016 election cycle, Murray Energy somehow came up with $100,000 to donate to the Trump Victory Fund, even though it was in such dire straits it needed to issue layoff notices to 4,400 workers the very next day.
After Trump won, Murray also donated $300,000 to Trump's beleaguered inauguration committee. That's just the tip of the iceberg, as Murray and Murray Energy also gave a million dollars to America First Action, a Trump-backing super PAC.
Murray appears to have gotten quite the deal for that money.
After the election, Murray drafted a "wish list" of pro-coal actions he hoped the Trump administration would take. Chief among those was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, which Trump did in June 2017.
In December 2017, Trump began considering how to roll back rules that protected coal miners from black lung disease, another wish of Murray's.
Murray also asked Trump to get rid of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which Trump formally moved to do in April 2018.
Now, it looks like Murray needs one of his big customers to stay open, regardless of whether the TVA buying coal from Murray makes fiscal sense for the TVA or the people of Kentucky that TVA serves.
And Trump appears happy, yet again, to do Murray's bidding.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.