President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he is sending the coal-producing Powder River Basin to private ownership, promising to create a new industry in the heart of America.
Trump said the move would save coal companies millions of dollars in federal taxes, as well as help the U.S. transition away from the “unbelievably expensive” power plant industry.
“I am going to put coal miners, coal companies, coal workers and coal companies in charge of the power grid and make sure they can come back,” Trump said during a speech at the White House.
“We’re going to be the cleanest energy system in the world, the clean energy system, and I am going the clean power in this country.”
“I’m not just going to take the coal out of the ground,” Trump added.
The president made the announcement in an Oval Office meeting with governors from across the country, including Republican Gov.
Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and the head of the American Governors Association, New Jersey Gov.
Chris Christie, the president’s nominee for secretary of state.
Trump also named three coal-related nominees, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA, which is tasked with regulating air pollution and protecting the health of Americans, has been criticized for being a political arm of the White Houses power plant.
“This administration is dedicated to taking action on climate change, and we will do so in a way that will not only protect the health and safety of our citizens, but will also protect the American taxpayer,” Trump wrote.
“My administration will move swiftly and decisively to address climate change through new regulations and policies.
And we will protect the economy from climate change.”
Trump’s administration said the coal deal would create about 2,000 new jobs.
The coal deal was first announced in December and will be completed by June, according to the White White House, which said the deal would produce an additional 2 million to 3,000 jobs.
Trump’s move comes after a series of other deals to make it easier for coal companies to keep coal jobs in the United States.
The administration earlier this year approved a deal with the country’s biggest coal company, Peabody Energy, to build a massive new coal-fired power plant in Kentucky, where the state is the third largest producer of the coal it burns.
Peabys plan was backed by the coal lobby, including the American Legislative Exchange Council, which had been pressing the Trump administration to get rid of the EPA.
The proposed coal plant would create nearly 200,000 temporary construction jobs.
Peacock Energy said in a statement that the company “is committed to the health, safety and prosperity of our workers and our communities.”
Peaboys plan to spend $5.2 billion to expand its Kentucky coal plant and create 1,000 permanent jobs, according the company’s website.
Peboys president, David M. Cote, said in his statement that he “welcomes President Trump’s announcement of his intent to sell Powder River Power Plant to private sector investment.”
“The Powder River project is a vital lifeline for our state and the coal economy in Appalachia, and a vital part of our efforts to address the climate crisis,” Cote said.
The Trump administration is also moving to reduce the number of federal rules that have blocked coal companies from dumping their excess carbon dioxide into the air.
In January, the EPA said it would begin issuing new rules for power plants to capture carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants.
The move was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, which argued that the coal companies should be required to take some of the CO2 from their plants.