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Gov. Justice, Energy Secretary Rick Perry push plan to make coal part of national security

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is pushing a plan that would make eastern coal a vital part of national security. (WCHS/WVAH)

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is pushing a plan that would make eastern coal a vital part of national security.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is on board with the plan which could help stabilize coal production throughout West Virginia.

Perry is following through on President Donald Trump's recent directive to prepare immediate steps to help struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants throughout the country.

“There are only two forms of fuel that are going to be there day in, day out and that's coal, nuclear on site. Every other form of energy can be interrupted in some form or fashion,” Perry said.

The president apparently agrees with Justice, who has been pushing for the government to use more coal for eastern power plants. Justice says the move would help protect the energy grid and have a ready source of power in case of natural disaster or terrorist attack.

“I sat right at his desk in the Oval Office and said, Mr. President what if this happens? And he looked right at me and he said, God forbid it could happen, couldn't it? It could. And if it did, the eastern power grid would collapse,” Justice said.

Secretary Perry said it is in the country's best interests to maintain a strong base of coal and nuclear power, along with a mix of natural gas, solar, hydro and wind.

“My job as the Secretary of Energy is to make sure that when the demand is there for electricity that it is there. And I think you must have a healthy coal industry, coal power plants, nuclear plants, hydro, all of the other types of energy going into that grid to have that sustainability, that reliability, that resiliency of that national grid,” Perry said.

One possible proposal would have the Department of Energy order the purchase of electricity from coal-fired and nuclear power plants. However, critics say there is no legal way to make that happen and that if the plan does move forward, it would cost consumers more money for electricity.

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