Trump to ease rules on coal plants

CC BY 2.0 Wikipedia put these kids to work again

CC BY 2.0 Wikipedia put these kids to work again

This is "one of the Trump administration's most egregious attacks on clean air, public health, and our fragile climate", declared Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, and it "subjects the EPA to the very coal industry executives who used to sign Wheeler's paychecks and want to pollute with impunity".

The proposal lays out several possible pathways that individual states might use for regulating coal-fired power plants, and what the consequences would be for pollution and human health in each case.

Environmental groups were quick to criticize the move.

Obama's plan was created to cut United States carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Compared to Obama's plan, Trump's would reduce compliance costs by up to $6.4 billion.

The Trump administration is preparing a plan to give states broad authority to determine how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Tuesday it would deregulate carbon emissions coming from coal power plants and allow states to set their own standards. "This new rule will go a long way toward rebuilding trust between the EPA and rural America, and I'm pleased to see it move forward".

The move marks the latest effort by Trump's administration to roll back the environmental legacy of his Democratic predecessor, having pulled out of the 2015 Paris climate accord aimed at slashing global fossil fuel emissions. His plan restricted greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Bill Wehrum, administrator for EPA's office of Air and Radiation, acknowledged that the industry "continues to transform in front of our eyes", he told reporters.

Obama's Clean Power Plan would have reduced carbon emissions dramatically, as much as 19 percent from projected levels by 2030. The federal government will set carbon emission guidelines, but states will have the leeway to set less-stringent standards, taking into account a facility's age and the cost of upgrades.

"This is another desperate attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up the dirty and obsolete coal industry, but it won't work", he continued.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan'.

Coal fired power plants have always been a staple of the USA power grid, but are declining due to competition from natural gas, which is cheaper, and wind and solar power, which are far more agreeable to the environment and human health.

The US is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and, under Trump, has vowed to step away from the Paris deal and tear up various climate-related regulations.

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.

That's what happened on Tuesday, with a proposal called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said "would restore the rule of law and empower state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable and affordable energy for all Americans". Although the Trump administration forecasts a 4.5 percent to 5.8 percent increase in the production of coal for generating electricity under its proposal, analysts say the shift is unlikely to reverse a spate of already announced closures of coal-fired power plants.

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.

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