Trump Promotes ‘Clean Coal’ In Gutting Obama’s Clean Power Plan
The Trump administration is set to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s efforts to slow global warming, the Clean Power Plan that restricts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“Carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector will continue to fall under this rule, but this will happen legally and with proper respect for the states, unlike” the Clean Power Plan, the summary says.
A plan to be announced in coming days would 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 announced late Monday that acting administrator Andrew Wheeler planned to brief the news media by telephone Tuesday on greenhouse guidelines for states to set performance standards for existing coal-fired power plants.
President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new plan at an appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday.
Big Rally tonight in West Virginia. Patrick Morrisey is running a GREAT race for U.S. Senate. I have done so much for West Virginia, against all odds, and having Patrick, a real fighter, by my side, would make things so much easier. See you later. CLEAN COAL!!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2018
The plan also would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, according to a summary of the plan and several people familiar with the full proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the plan publicly.
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. Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.
Trump also has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take steps to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, warning that impending retirements of “fuel-secure” power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation’s power grid and reducing its resilience.
The White House had no immediate comment on the plan, and the EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday.
A three-page summary being circulated at the White House focuses on boosting efficiency at coal-fired power plants and allowing states to reduce “wasteful compliance costs” while focusing on improved environmental outcomes. Critics say focusing on improved efficiency would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits.
The White House rejects that criticism.
“Carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector will continue to fall under this rule, but this will happen legally and with proper respect for the states, unlike” the Clean Power Plan, the summary says. The AP obtained a copy of the summary, which asserts that the Obama-era plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
Obama’s plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.
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.
Even so, the Obama plan has been a factor in a wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power and state mandates that promote energy conservation.
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.
“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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