Published: Wed, August 22, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

EPA proposes relaxing coal plant emissions rule

EPA proposes relaxing coal plant emissions rule

"Did you see what I did to that?"

In a press release on Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule "worse than nothing".

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. Analysts say that Trump's efforts will be unable to reverse the trend. The plan was halted by the USA supreme court in 2016 and has never come into force. This - the plan published on Tuesday - is that something.

Gina McCarthy, the Obama administration EPA chief who finalized the Clean Power Plan, called the Trump administration's proposal "just another step in industry's playbook to dismantle regulations that they find inconvenient but are absolutely essential for our public health and our kids' future".

EPA's proposal would grant states the ability to write their own weaker regulations for the plants and give them the ability to seek permission to opt out of regulations on power plant emissions.

The new proposed rule, which the EPA calls the "Affordable Clean Energy" rule, would eliminate Obama-era standards that would have required power plants to reduce carbon emissions either by converting from coal to cleaner sources of energy or by building carbon-capture technologies.

Even so, the Obama plan has been a factor in a wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power and state mandates that promote energy conservation. Carbon emissions are expected to fall by a total of 0.7 to 1.5 percent between 2005 and 2030 - or about one-twelfth the anticipated reductions under the Obama plan.

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What will it mean for clean air?

A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would go hand-in-hand with a reduction in soot and smog-forming materials from power plants. "The law could not be more clear: It requires EPA to adopt the 'best system of emissions reduction, ' but the EPA has instead opted for the 'lamest system of emissions reduction"'.

Why are they doing this? "The Obama administration's plan would have amounted to a huge energy tax that would have raised power bills for Arkansans and dealt a blow to manufacturers", Cotton's statement reads.

"At exactly the time we should be sending a comprehensive signal for clean energy, we're totally squelching that signal", he added. Rather, it should help upgrade individual power plants and leave the energy mix down to the states. His boss, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal lobbyist. "The Clean Power Plan would have resulted in stranded assets and stranded debt, significantly increasing electricity costs for many consumers", Matheson said by email. And a year ago Trump announced that he would pull the USA out of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.

Details of the plan are being released Tuesday morning, and President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new policy during a trip Tuesday evening to Charleston, West Virginia.

The move represents the latest bid by Trump to fulfill campaign promises to revive the coal industry and restore mining jobs.

If the country doesn't force down its planet-warming gases coming from power plants, vehicles, agriculture and other sources, the world is far more likely to careen into a challenging new climate marked by severe heatwaves, storms, flooding and displacement of millions of people.

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