President Barack Obama said Thursday he is not abandoning his goal of closing the nation’s largest coal-fired power plant, despite the ongoing dispute with the Trump administration over the closure.
The president said in a statement that his decision is based on the safety of the American people and the safety and security of the people of the United States.
Obama has called for a full-scale review of the power plant’s safety after the Department of Justice sued in July for the closure, saying the coal ash spill had a potential for devastating effects on communities along the nation.
While Obama said he has not decided on whether to keep the plant open or to shut it down, he said he is working with the administration to “address the challenges that we have” and he will “continue to consult closely with the people, communities, and businesses that have invested in our communities and our economy in the wake of the spill.”
In his statement, Obama said the decision to close the plant was based on a combination of the safety concerns, the need to ensure the safety for the communities and workers, and the need for continued work to address the environmental impacts that the spill caused.
He said he does not believe it would be possible to complete the cleanup of the site, noting the amount of waste that was still leaking from the plant would be unacceptable.
“There is still much more to do,” he said.
“It is important that we do everything possible to move forward.”
As the country prepares for the presidential inauguration next month, the White House is trying to build momentum behind the coal industry, a critical part of the economy that employs more than 2 million people in a workforce that was responsible for producing more than $2 trillion in goods and services last year.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in her statement that the president was pleased with the progress the Department has made since the spill.
We look forward to working with our coal partners and our administration to keep coal in the U.S.,” she said.
President Donald Trump is slated to speak in front of coal miners at the White, Black, and Gold mine in South Carolina on Feb. 20.
On Wednesday, the president accused former president Barack Obama of waging a war on coal, saying it was an industry “with great respect for the United Nations.”
The U.N. said Thursday it was sending its highest-level envoy to meet with Trump to discuss ways to protect the environment and the workers who live and work in coal-producing regions.
In a joint statement, the ministers said they wanted the Trump White House to put coal miners first, to take action to protect endangered species and the environment, and to ensure that all people are safe from pollution.