Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the face of the flagging coal industry – whose entire workforce employs fewer people than Arby’s – the federal government is considering using a dusty wartime rule to help it out.
The Defense Production Act of 1950, which dates back to the Korean War, gives the President wide-ranging powers to fiddle with various American industries in order to prioritize them and give them a helping hand one way or another.
“The security of the United States is dependent on the ability of the domestic industrial base to supply materials and services for the national defense and to prepare for and respond to military conflicts, natural or man-caused disasters, or acts of terrorism within the United States,” it reads.
It also refers to the need to restore critical infrastructure under “emergency conditions” and to “respond to actions taken outside of the United States that could result in the reduced supplies of strategic and critical materials, including energy.”
Now, it’s being reported that the act will be used to keep coal-generating power plants propped up, which are threatened primarily by the ever-increasing cheapness of natural gas and renewable energy power plants. Apart from prioritizing contracts from the industries, the specifics remain vague at present.
As reported by E&E News, the use of the act was first requested by Joe Manchin III, a moderate Democrat in the increasingly red-hued state of West Virginia, a part of the US that has a long history of coal mining. His request was picked up by Rick Perry’s Department of Energy, which according to industry sources is now reportedly seriously considering using it.