Trump administration proposes rolling back Obama's Clean Power Plan

President Donald Trump in Washington DC on Aug. 20 2018

President Donald Trump in Washington DC on Aug. 20 2018. Andrew Harnik

The Journal reported that acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposal that calls for states to regulate emissions from power plants, undoing a move from President Barack Obama that made those emissions regulated by the federal government for the first time.

The new EPA proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would give states leeway on whether to limit emissions and by how much, and allow older power plants to operate longer. And that may be optimistic, because any effort to make coal plants more efficient is likely to increase their importance in the overall power-generation system, meaning more dirty energy and potentially higher emissions.

Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.

Combined with a planned rollback of car-mileage standards, the plan represents a significant retreat from Obama-era efforts to fight climate change and would reverse an Obama-era push to shift away from coal and toward less-polluting energy sources such as natural gas, wind and solar power.

"The policy put forward by the previous administration was an illegal attempt to impose a political agenda on the country's power system", Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association said in an emailed statement.

Pointing to recent extreme weather which experts have tied to the global climate crisis that's resulted from burning fossil fuels, Andrea McGimsey of Environment America said, "At a time when communities across the US are threatened by scorching temperatures, historic wildfires, and air pollution, this move is sheer reckless folly, and it could have profound consequences". But it remains on the books as part of the EPA's legally mandated role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. And it may not be enough to save many coal plants.

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Even Trump's own EPA acknowledges that the effects of its latest changes will be slight.

Despite the departure of Trump's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, a notorious anti-environmental crusader who resigned in July amid repeated accusations of graft and public corruption, there is no indication the agency will show any renewed dedication to public health. A technical analysis released by the EPA suggests that the new plan would decrease carbon dioxide emissions by no more than 2% compared to doing nothing.

The ACE rule would reduce the regulatory compliance burden by up to $400 million per year compared to the CPP. The agency also forecasts a modest, potentially 0.5 per cent reduction in retail electricity prices.

"He asked me to keep cleaning up the air, keep cleaning up the water and continue to deregulate to provide more jobs for the American public", he said.

"The announcement of a replacement rule may largely represent a political milestone for a president who promised to end his predecessor's 'war on coal, ' but we also view it as a significant policy action that could to make it hard for a differently oriented successor to establish greenhouse gas limits on any stationary sector via executive discretion", ClearView Energy Partners managing director Kevin Book said in a research note to clients.

The Trump Administration released a new plan Tuesday to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and address climate change.

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It also would overhaul the triggers that prompt new permit reviews - and potentially expensive new pollution controls - that have been criticized as onerous by owners of power plants, refineries and other industrial sites.

Still, the low cost of natural gas and renewable power are not affected by these new rules, the rules only make it somewhat easier for coal to compete.

Since 2010, power plant owners have either retired or announced plans to retire 630 coal-fired facilities in 43 states - almost 40 per cent of the USA coal fleet, according to data by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group representing utilities such as Southern Co. and producers such as Peabody Energy Corp. On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump is visiting West Virginia - one of the states hit hardest by the decline of coal - in a rally supporting Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey.

Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler praised the decision.

Trump's proposal for modest efficiency improvements at power plants falls far short of what's needed to combat climate change, environmentalists said. More CO2 emissions means more of the other harmful stuff. "Economists, scientists, central bankers, and real estate insurance and finance professionals are all warning of dire consequences of climate change, and we get this?"

The Trump plan "will make no meaningful reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions "and it probably will make emissions worse", Doniger said.

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"The Obama EPA was really engaged in social engineering, which is not the roll of the U.S. EPA", Wheeler said on "Countdown to the Closing Bell". We have ended the war on coal, and will continue to work to promote American energy dominance!

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