Trump's EPA unveils weaker alternative to Obama power plant rule

Theresa Obrien
August 24, 2018

The Trump administration proposed Tuesday new rules for regulating carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, in a move that could keep aging coal-fired plants running longer and which is part of its strategy to support USA coal mining. He added, "We love clean, attractive West Virginia coal".

The Obama administration held up the Clean Power Plan as a way to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions and make the USA a leader in the fight against climate change.

The CPP, which Obama's EPA finalized in 2015, sought to reduce emissions from power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Unlike Trump's recent rollback of fuel efficiency rules, the new coal standards do not appear to try to take regulatory authority away from states that have been tougher on coal.

The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans. The Obama rules, which have been halted by court challenges, would have increased federal regulation of emissions from the nation's electrical grid and broadly promoted cleaner energy, including natural gas and solar and wind power.

Easing the pressure on industry will bolster coal's fortunes over the next decade, compared with the clean power plan, as well as slightly reducing electricity prices.

The plan will be open for public comment, and EPA said it plans to issue a final rule early next year.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says its proposal to relax greenhouse gas limits on power plants will cause as many as 1,630 additional premature deaths annually by 2030 from heart and lung disease - an estimate independent experts say may be low.

"This alleged plan does nothing but blow smoke while we eat it", he said.

Assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum told reporters on Tuesday that the short-term, rate-based test aligns the New Source Review programme with other EPA standards.

The plan was the centrepiece in an effort to lower emissions and help meet global climate change goals set out in the Paris agreement, which Trump has pledged to leave.

The proposed rules are Trump's latest attempt to fulfill campaign promises to revive the coal industry and restore mining jobs.

With natural gas and renewable sources of power becoming more efficient and less costly, the coal industry is being left in the dust.

There are no coal-fired power plants now operating in Rhode Island or MA. The Clean Power Plan never went into effect because of court battles. Total carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants peaked in 2007 at almost 37 million metric tons. The Trump Administration has criticized the CPP as "overly prescriptive and burdensome" and has, at times, discussed an outright repeal of the rule. "Acting EPA Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler addressed this in saying there are already rules and regulations in place, that when properly enforced, give them the tools they need to make sure ultimately our environment is being protected", said Avella.

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