White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president's action is due to a national security interest in securing the national power grid's resilience.
Sanders added that "impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities" pose a risk to national security, which prompted Friday's actions.
But a draft memo circulated earlier this week indicates the administration might order electric grid operators to buy their energy from struggling coal and nuclear plants.
The memo allegedly wrote that "Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement".
"We support all efforts to ensure the security of our nation's electric power supply, which is critical to the reliability of our electric power grids, to low-priced electricity and to our national defense", Murray said Friday in a statement.
Faced with a rear-guard action of saving a heavily-polluting industry, $43 billion publicly-traded coal and nuclear plant operator FirstEnergy - noted in part for its behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign attempting to eliminate a law that required utilities to assist in electricity efficiency programs for customers - demanded the DOE use its emergency order to bail out a company subsidiary just before it went bankrupt.
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Ocean Infinity, which conducted the search a no find, no fee basis that could have earned it up to $US70 million, has said it hopes to be able to resume the operation.
"Orderly power plant retirements do not constitute an emergency for our electric grid", said Amy Farrell, vice president of the American Wind Energy Association.
Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since past year and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast. After the Energy Department conducted a study of grid reliability previous year, Perry proposed a rule that would have compensated coal and nuclear plants for their ability to store months' worth of fuel on site.
Trump's directive comes as administration officials search for ways to extend the life of coal and nuclear power plants they argue provide reliable, always-on power capable of snapping back after intense storms and emergencies.
By January, the commission had rejected Perry's request, the Times reported.
The Trump administration's claims of energy security for keeping coal and nuclear plants online is not supported by the facts, as multiple power networks, including PJM, one of the biggest U.S. independent systems, point to a recent extremely cold "bomb cyclone" weather event in the USA northeast that showed the regional grid operating efficiently despite coal power plant closures, cited by Ars Technica.
Analysts said the new plan would face numerous legal and political challenges before it could get implemented. The federal government has a lot of assets in the Pacific Northwest.