Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Science | By Celia Watts

EPA Announces Replacement to Obama's Clean Power Plan

EPA Announces Replacement to Obama's Clean Power Plan

"The Trump EPA once again proves that it cares more about extending the lives of old coal plants rather than saving the lives of the American people", Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the Clean Air Task Force, said by email.

Trump is expected to tout the proposal as a lifeline for coal at a West Virginia rally later on Tuesday (we'll probably also hear about CLEAN COAL!), but it's unlikely to save a dying, economically unfeasible industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a 289-page report yesterday detailing the impact of President Trump's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan has been put on hold since 2016 after pro-coal states and industry challenged it in the courts.

The Trump plan broadly increases the authority given to states to regulate coal power plants. "The era of top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates is over", said Andrew Wheeler, interim administrator of the EPA, as he announced that states will have more leeway to devise their own emissions guidelines.

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.

Rule, as it's called, would give authority to the states to set their own rules how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. That would be accompanied by a rise in cases of asthma, bronchitis, and heart and lung disease because of an increase in coal burning.

"That's a test created to never be triggered", said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"As far as we can tell, we're already well positioned to meet whatever requirements come out as far as the final changes of this rule", Brooks said.

Jason Bohrer, president and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council, praised the rule and predicted it would accomplish "the goals that both the Obama administration set and those folks who are concerned about climate change want to achieve". "Senator Byrd had a coal powered plan fueling the Capitol, you know I [unintelligible] that's gonna go, with all due respect to West Virginia we're not gonna have a coal power plant floating around". EPA's underlying goal through its proposal is to "give states adequate time and flexibility to develop their state plans" and to provide each state with broad discretion in establishing specific performance standards for the affected utilities.

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

Washington is facing a legal battle over its decision to reject permits for a massive proposed coal-export terminal on the Columbia River in Longview. "We feel like the EPA proposal now is based on a correct reading of the Clean Air Act".

President Trump rolled back Obama's fuel efficiency rules earlier this month. "We simply must greatly lower emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from energy producers, and do so soon".

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