Bob Murray had early usage of Rick Perry to share coal plan

A photography obtained by the magazine In These Times shows Strength Secretary Rick Perry (middle) and coal executive Bob Murray (right) in a March 29 assembly at DOE headquarters. | Image obtained by In These Times Bob Murray acquired early access to Rick Perry to talk about coal plan The Strength Department did not dispute the validity of the photos.

Coal magnate Bob Murray pitched Strength Secretary Rick Perry on his intend to throw an financial lifeline to coal companies less than a month before Perry set in place plans to aid the sector, according to newly disclosed photos that show both meeting.

The liberal magazine In These Times obtained pictures of Murray and Perry from a March 29 meeting at Strength Department headquarters, significantly less than a month after Perry was sworn in. Other officials were in attendance, incorporating Andrew Wheeler, who at the time was a lobbyist for Murray and provides since been nominated as EPA’s No. 2 official.

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The meeting puts Murray and Perry together at an essential minute in the timeline of the Trump administration’s push to save the struggling coal industry, an attempt that could benefit Murray Energy in particular while hiking electricity prices for potentially millions of people. A month before the meeting, one of Murray’s biggest consumers, FirstEnergy Corp., had informed investors it was significantly considering sending its merchant division, FirstEnergy Alternatives, into bankruptcy, a approach which may likely void its supply agreements with Murray’s coal mines.

Three weeks after Murray’s visit, Perry would order a grid study that after became portion of the justification for a proposed rule to reward coal and nuclear electricity plants for providing “grid resiliency.” FERC, which has jurisdiction over the proposal, must make a decision onto it by Monday.

During the meeting, Wheeler had been the leading candidate to become the deputy administrator for EPA. Wheeler, who represented Murray as a lobbyist for Faegre Baker Daniels, wouldn’t normally get officially nominated for weeks. Wheeler, who features acknowledged taking part in meetings on Murray’s coal plan at DOE and on Capitol Hill, cleared committee the other day and is usually awaiting Senate confirmation.

Murray can be an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and held a good fundraiser for him during the 2016 campaign.

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DOE did not dispute the validity of the photos.

“Industry stakeholders go to the Department of Strength every day,” DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said, when asked about the assembly. “The DOE proposal to FERC was about the future and resiliency of the nation’s power, a concern much bigger than one industry or provider.”

The photographs display Perry seated at the head of a table in the Department of Energy, with Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, to his still left, and Wheeler downward the table from Murray.

“Enclosed can be an Action System for obtaining reliable and low priced electricity … and to help out with the survival of our Country’s coal sector, which … power grid stability and low cost energy,” Murray writes in a resume cover letter to Perry, elements of which are apparent in one photography from the meeting.

Though the document has never been publicly released, DOE critics declare Murray’s plan appears to have inspired DOE’s grid study and the proposed rule Perry sent FERC in September. Copies happen to be visible at the seats of most of the individuals, incorporating Perry and Murray. Wheeler, who told members of the Senate Environment Committee he had only experienced the memo briefly, isn’t holding a copy in the photos obtained by In These Times. Murray informed Greenwire in November he “didn’t possess any involvement” in writing the rule.

Murray has acknowledged sharing the plan with Trump.

“I gave Mr. Trump what I named an action plan extremely early,” Murray said in a recent PBS Frontline documentary on EPA. “It’s about three-and-a-half webpages and – of what he had a need to carry out in his administration. He’s destroyed page one.”

The meeting has been successful for all. One of the photos shows Perry and Murray in a major bear hug.

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