Trump to ease rules on coal plants

Trump administration's rewrite of Clean Power Plan will be a boon to the coal industry

The CPP replacement - which the Trump administration is calling the Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule - gives states three years to come up with plans to reduce Carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants, primarily through efficiency improvements.

"The Trump administration is emphasizing "coal at all costs", said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator when the Obama plan was developed".

Trump, who is expected to tout the plan at a rally Tuesday night in West Virginia, loves what he has called "beautiful, clean coal" and has launched a widespread effort to save the energy source from disappearing from the USA energy mix. The Clean Power Plan is the EPA program to cut unsafe carbon pollution from coal and fracked gas power plants, and Trump will no doubt gleefully proclaim that, by gutting the standard, coal's resurrection is just around the corner. Officials in conservative states may allow utilities to extend the life of coal-fired units, while those in liberal states are likely to keep pressing for steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Announcing the regulation on Tuesday, Bill Wehrum, the EPA's assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation, told journalists that he had worked at the EPA under President George W. Bush when the agency tried to argue that it did not have the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In many states, the CPP's limits on emissions have already been met because the cost of generating power from natural gas and renewable energy like wind and solar is cheaper than coal.

What does this mean for climate change?

Those moves have been rebuffed by California and a dozen other states, which have led a push to maintain high environmental standards and legally challenge the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era rules.

In talking points obtained by E&E News, the administration says the EPA's own analysis shows "the proposal could reduce 2030 Carbon dioxide emissions by 0.7% to 1.5% from projected levels" under a business as usual scenario compared to 2005.

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EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the proposal "would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" while providing "modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans". "We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal", he said, extolling the combustible mineral's superiority to less "indestructible" alternatives like windmills, gas, and solar energy.

President Donald Trump has been obsessed with protecting and expanding the use of coal, one of the dirtiest fuels and a huge contributor to global warming. "Climate change is real, no matter how much this administration tries to deny it", Baraba Underwood, New York State's Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement.

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

Industry officials praised the move. The Supreme Court put the brakes on it in 2016 after energy-producing states sued the EPA, saying it had exceeded its legal reach.

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

Of the Obama Administration's many power grabs, none was more audacious than its bid to regulate coal-fired electric power out of business.

"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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