Trump Eases Coal-Pollution Curbs in Unwinding More Obama Rules

But the proposed regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency, which would replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, has a serious flaw: it could make climate change worse.

The Environmental Protect Agency announced late Monday that acting administrator Andrew Wheeler planned to brief the news media by telephone Tuesday on greenhouse guidelines for states to set performance standards for existing coal-fired power plants. A final EPA rule is expected later this year.

President Trump's plan broadly increases the leeway given states to decide how and how much to regulate coal power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency's "Affordable Clean Energy" proposal would replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan's sweeping changes in the US electricity mix with more modest emissions curbs at individual power plants.

The EPA says it is created to replace Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan which called for cuts to greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and a shift toward solar, wind, and less polluting natural gas.

The Supreme Court put the plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.

The AP obtained a copy of the summary, which asserts that the Obama-era plan exceeds the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act.

Coal fired power plants have always been a staple of the US power grid, but are declining due to competition from natural gas, which is cheaper, and wind and solar power, which are far more agreeable to the environment and human health.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the proposal was "an absolute nightmare for coal country" and 'the Trump administration has laid out a better path'.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal Trump's "Dirty Power Plan".

Instead of emissions targets or overall reduction goals, the Trump plan takes a power-plant-by-power-plant approach, asking states to review their coal facilities and make tailored changes to improve efficiency.

The EPA is not altering its landmark 2009 conclusion that greenhouse gases threaten health and human welfare - a finding underpinning the power plant regulation and compelling the Trump's move Tuesday.

'The Obama administration waged a war on American energy with devastating consequences for workers and manufacturers, ' the Wisconsin Republican said.

The EPA estimates that the ACE rule could reduce 2030 Carbon dioxide emission by up to 1.5 percent from projected levels without the CPP, which amounts to taking 5.3 million cars off the road. The EPA's own scientific analysis of its new rule reportedly admits that the Affordable Clean Energy Rule could lead to almost 1,400 extra deaths per year compared to what would have occurred under the Clean Power Plan. The new rule would allow coal power plant owners to make efficiency upgrades without triggering any additional costly repairs, as the previous administration hoped to do.

"We are getting us back in our lane", said Bill Wehrum, the EPA's clean air chief.

"They are continuing to play to their base and following industry's lead", McCarthy said of the Trump administration and its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist.

What does this mean for climate change? "The Clean Power Plan would have resulted in stranded assets and stranded debt, significantly increasing electricity costs for many consumers", Matheson said by email.

  • Joey Payne