A coalition of big coal companies, utilities and labor unions urged President Trump on Thursday to adopt a coal-based climate change plan as part of his infrastructure agenda.
St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, one of the largest coal mining companies in the world, with coal mining, utility and other labor groups, embarked on a letter campaign to get Trump and Congress to endorse a plan to build clean coal plants with pipelines as a way to boost fossil fuel use, increase jobs and renew the nation's infrastructure.
"On behalf of the undersigned companies and organizations, we urge you to include carbon capture projects and CO2 pipelines in a broader national infrastructure initiative and portfolio of projects," the letter to Trump read.
Carbon capture technology removes carbon dioxide from the exhaust gas of a coal or natural gas power plant, and then ships it via a pipeline to be used in oil drilling or another industrial process.
"The expansion of carbon capture from industrial facilities and power plants can enable use of America's abundant coal, oil and natural gas resources while reducing carbon emissions, promote economic development, protect and create high-paying jobs in energy production, manufacturing and other critical industries, and drive further innovation and cost reductions in carbon capture technology," the letter said.
The plan also calls for the extension and reform of tax credits for coal-fired power plants that use carbon capture, along with the adoption of "tax-exempt private activity bonds and other financial incentives to support carbon capture deployment," the letter read.
The letter included a list of proposed carbon capture projects to be included in a federal infrastructure plan. The plants are part of Trump's coal agenda to build "clean coal" projects. Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke last week at the opening of one the first commercial carbon capture plants last week.
Many of the plants on the coalition's list are at various stages of planning, permitting and public review.
"We would welcome the opportunity to work with your administration to design a national infrastructure initiative that accelerates the deployment of carbon capture technology by incing carbon capture projects and CO2 pipelines," the letter read.
Some of the companies signing the letter, such as Cloud Peak Energy, have been lobbying the White House over the last few weeks not to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement. The company argues that staying in the United Nations' agreement benefits coal use by helping to urge countries to adopt carbon capture, which the U.S. is a leader in developing.
White House officials and members of Trump's Cabinet were expected to meet this week to form a consensus on whether to remain or leave the Paris agreement. But the meeting was postponed.
Trump's advisers are divided on which way to go, with senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supporting staying in the agreement.
A White House spokeswoman could not say Thursday when the meeting would be rescheduled. The White House has said that a decision will be made near the end of May. In the meantime, some conservative groups have called on Trump not to waiver from his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
"Remaining in the agreement endangers energy prices underpinning the U.S. manufacturing renaissance Trump favors, while also risking that activist courts will reimpose restrictions such as the EPA 'war on coal' rules that Trump says he'll undo," wrote Chris Horner, a senior fellow with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a USA Today op-ed published Thursday.
CEI started an online ad and petition campaign on Tuesday to prod the president not to be swayed from his promise to leave the climate deal.
Horner likened the industry groups that support the deal to energy company Enron, which engaged in criminal manipulation of the energy markets for financial gain.
"Seeking subsidies or competitive advantage for pro-environment industry under these schemes have motivated climate treaties since Enron pioneered the move in the mid-1990s (I was in the room). They seek to use government to profit at your expense," he wrote.