Saturday, 20 October, 2018

How the Trump administration is rolling back plans for clean power

Jim Watson  AFP  Getty Images Jim Watson AFP Getty Images
Derrick Tucker | 22 August, 2018, 14:43

Yet under the Obama EPA's Clean Power Plan, the state said it would give the administration a very narrow plan on how it would meet those new greenhouse gas reduction requirements.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) has come out against ACE. Because more efficient coal plants would make that energy source more competitive compared to less carbon-intensive alternatives, some analysts argue that the measure could lead to increased carbon emissions. In fact, it is exactly what Trump and Wheeler's fossil fuel friends want, especially since they are losing money as the USA economy continues to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, cheaper competitors like solar and wind.

His state has made progress in cutting emissions, but 79 percent of its electricity still comes from coal. "And worst of all, they impose severe public health costs on us all".

But officials from the EPA say the proposal would provide companies with an incentive to update their operations and that the agency has other policies that reduce traditional pollutants.

"What we're dealing with here are greenhouse gases", Wehrum said. More CO2 emissions means more of the other harmful stuff. John Barrasso from the coal state of Wyoming welcomes the overhaul of the Obama administration's 2015 regulations, called the Clean Power Plan.

By contrast, the Obama administration projected that its rule would have cut emissions 19% over the same time frame. Although it is unlikely to dramatically alter the USA power mix - or give a big boost to domestic coal demand, which has flagged amid competition from cheap natural gas and renewables - industry advocates hailed the effort as curbing federal government overreach and leveling the playing field.

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Environmentalists and several Democratic attorneys general said they would challenge the proposed rule in court because it would delegate too much authority to the states. Conservatives have filed a half dozen petitions challenging the endangerment finding, though Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has signaled he is not eager to reconsider the issue.

President Trump has vowed to reinvigorate America's decaying coal-fired power plants and increase reliance on the fuel source.

"The cost of failing to act is enormous - from increases in lung disease and heavy metal poisoning to the many health harms from climate change that doctors are already seeing among their patients", said Mona Sarfaty, director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. Today, about a third of USA electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants, down from more than half at the turn of the century.

The Trump proposal may open a small window for a revival of coal even as it prolongs uncertainty over the USA electricity mix and casts doubt on investments by utilities making decades-long choices about new plants and upgrades.

Under the Trump plan, the EPA would establish broad guidelines on the technologies that can be used to pare carbon dioxide emissions and then give states three years to develop their own plans for paring that pollution. The Trump Administration's rule is expected to face the same opposition that the Clean Power Plan faced: that rule was put on hold by the Supreme Court in February 2016, and when Trump took office he moved to do away with the plan entirely. Trump has long targeted the plan - the cornerstone of Barack Obama's climate change agenda - by portraying it as disastrous for coal-producing regions in particular and the USA economy in general.

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