Trump seeks to roll back Obama-era coal emissions standards

Posted August 22, 2018

Critics say the new plan would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often and extend their operating life, undercutting potential environmental benefits.

"The entire Obama administration plan was centered around doing away with coal", Wheeler told the Journal in an interview.

Trump, who has scheduled a rally on Tuesday in coal-producing state West Virginia, has vowed to end what he termed "the war on coal" and boost domestic fossil fuels production.

"To prop up failing coal-fired power plants, the proposal sets paltry pollution limits based on minimal "tune-ups" at those power plants and then authorizes states to weaken the standards even further - or even eliminate them altogether", Lissa Lynch, Staff Attorney for the NRDC, writes.

"Today's proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE's goal of energy dominance", Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, said in a statement Tuesday.

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The lure of cheaper and cleaner power sources such as natural gas and renewables set electric utilities on a serendipitous path several years ago to slash carbon dioxide emissions while also responding to demands from institutional investors, shareholders and customers.

It will have no effect in slowing efforts by groups such as the Sierra Club with its Beyond Coal campaign in pushing to close coal plants one at a time, said Liz Perera, the Sierra Club's climate policy director. According to the agency, once the plan is fully implemented, power sector emissions could fall 33 to 34 per cent below 2005 levels - roughly mirroring the same target as Obama's initiative, which sought to cut those greenhouse gas emissions 32 per cent relative to 2005. The EPA says should all states adopt these new efficiencies - it's unlikely all will - emissions will go down by around 1% by 2030. Andrew Wheeler, the current acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a former coal industry lobbyist.

The Affordable Clean Energy Rule incentivizes power plant owners increase their plants' efficiency. Indeed, the White House press release for the new regulation does not contain a single mention of climate change or global warming.

Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.

The agency estimates that the power sector's greenhouse gas emissions would continue to decline in coming years, but nearly entirely as a result of market pressures.

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"Once again, this administration is choosing polluters' profits over public health and safety", he said.

"We have abundant legal authority to deal with those other pollutants directly, and we have aggressive programs in place that directly target emissions of those pollutants".

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. At the state and local level, we'll keep winning victories to replace coal with clean energy. Today, about a third of US electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants, down from more than half at the turn of the century.

'We agree with those policymakers who have become increasingly concerned that coal retirements are a threat to grid resilience and national security, ' she said.

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