The Trump administration on Tuesday came out with new rules scaling back Obama-era constraints on coal-fired power plants, striking at one of the former administration’s legacy programs to rein in climate-changing fossil-fuel emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency called the regulations on coal power plants ‘overly prescriptive and burdensome’ in the proposal to roll-back the former president’s climate-change initiative.
President Trump’s plan broadly increases the leeway given states to decide how and how much to regulate coal power plants. The EPA says it ’empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation.’
The Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyoming. The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a major rollback of Obama-era regulations on coal-fired power plants, striking at one of the former administration’s legacy programs to rein in climate-changing fossil-fuel emissions
President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new plan at an appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday
Combined with the EPA’s proposal earlier this month to ease mileage requirements for vehicles, the move may actually increase the country’s climate-changing emissions, according to some former top EPA officials, environmental groups, and other opponents.
The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal Trump’s ‘Dirty Power Plan’ and vowed to fight it tooth and nail.
‘The world’s on fire and the Trump administration wants to make it worse,’ the environmental policy organization said. ‘This Dirty Power Plan is riddled with gimmicks and giveaways. It would mean more climate-changing pollution from power plants. That’s a recipe for climate disaster, and we’ll fight this dangerous retreat with every tool available.’
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, similarly referred to it in a release as the ‘Dirty Power Scam.’
She accused the administration of selling out America’s children in order to provide a hand-out to special interests in the energy sector.
‘The Administration is devastating Americans’ health every chance it gets,’ the California lawmaker charged.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein also bashed it as ‘the latest in a string of terrible decisions that undermine our fight against global warming, lower our quality of life and endanger lives’ in a statement.
Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey cited this summer’s wildfires and increasing droughts and coastal flooding as evidence that man-made climate change from burning coal and other fossil fuels is already well upon the United States.
‘Once again, this administration is choosing polluters’ profits over public health and safety,’ he said.
Scientists say that without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to climate change, but climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires.
Trump’s EPA said Tuesday its plan, the Affordable Clean Energy rule aka ACE, would reduce C02 emissions by 1.5 percent on its own by 2030. If states act, the EPA says, emissions could be cut by as much as 34 percent over 2005 emission levels.
Obama’s plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.
EPA will now put the proposed rule through a required 60-day public comment period and a hearing before formally announcing that it will adopt the plan
In a statement, Republican Sen. John Barrasso from the coal state of Wyoming welcomed the overhaul of the Obama administration’s 2015 regulations, called the Clean Power Plan. He said the current rules are in violation of the U.S. constitution.
‘The Obama-era regulation wasn’t just bad policy, it was illegal,’ he said. ‘I am glad the Trump administration is focused on getting this punishing rule off the books.’
Mitch McConnell, the head GOP senator, said that the policy was based on ‘far-left ideology’ and it was ‘unfair, unworkable, and likely illegal.’
‘Remember, the far left tried to push through radical legislation like an energy tax through Congress. Well, enough of us knew it would have hurt American competitiveness, victimized the poor, and done little to actually give the American people a cleaner environment,’ he said. ‘But instead of learning from those failures, the Obama Administration tried to go it alone and impose their radical agenda unilaterally.’
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 Obama administration waged a war on American energy with devastating consequences for workers and manufacturers,’ the Wisconsin Republican said.
The new proposal establishes emission guidelines for states to use when developing any plans to limit climate-changing emissions from power plants. Critics say the new plan would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often and extend the plants’ overall operating life, undercutting potential environmental benefits.
President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new plan at an appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday.
He said in a morning tweet: ‘Big Rally tonight in West Virginia. Patrick Morrisey is running a GREAT race for U.S. Senate. I have done so much for West Virginia, against all odds, and having Patrick, a real fighter, by my side, would make things so much easier. See you later. CLEAN COAL!!!!’
Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. The Obama administration had worked to nudge the country’s power producers to natural gas, wind and solar power, and other less-polluting power sources
Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. The Obama administration had worked to nudge the country’s power producers to natural gas, wind and solar power, and other less-polluting power sources.
He also has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take steps to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, warning that impending retirements of ‘fuel-secure’ power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation’s power grid and reducing its resilience.
The Supreme Court put Obama’s plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.
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.
Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a ‘war on coal’ waged by Obama.
‘They are continuing to play to their base and following industry’s lead,’ Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator when the Obama plan was developed, said of the Trump administration and its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist. ‘This is all about coal at all costs.’
Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that represents coal producers, called the new rule a marked departure from the ‘gross overreach’ of the Obama administration and said it should prevent a host of premature coal-plant retirements.
‘We agree with those policymakers who have become increasingly concerned that coal retirements are a threat to grid resilience and national security,’ she said.
Tuesday’s move opens a public-comment period on the proposal before any final administration action.