The sulfer-coal-burning John E.

Amos Power Plant in West Virginia. (credit: Cathy)
Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry ordered a review (PDF) of electricity markets and reliability late last week, saying that “certain policies” have hindered the development and use of baseload energy sources like coal.

Although Perry never mentions renewable energy explicitly in his letter, he references “significant changes within the electrical system.” That seems to be a direct allusion to the record amount of renewable capacity that has been added to the grid in recent years.
The Obama administration had supported initiatives to increase renewable energy on the US grid given the urgency of climate change and with a mind to mitigate the health problems that come with pollution related to coal burning and mining.

Although wind and solar power are intermittent resources (meaning they only produce power when there’s wind and sun), government agencies including the DOE have funded research (PDF) to improve renewable energy efficiency and energy storage.

The idea has been that adding renewable energy to the grid makes it more resilient, because power generation doesn’t rely on shipments of natural gas, coal, or oil.
It also decreases the grid’s reliance on large fossil fuel-burning facilities and allows more distributed energy generation.
The Trump administration, on the other hand, has been openly critical of climate change science, with the president even falsely claiming that climate change is a hoax made up by China.
In March, the president killed the Clean Power Plan and ordered agencies to ignore climate change. Perry, too, spent most of his early career rejecting climate change science, but during his January Senate confirmation hearing the former Texas governor said he now accepts science showing that the Earth is warming.
Still, Perry has remained coy about whether he believes that climate change is caused by humans (which scientific evidence has been unambiguous about).
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