Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Why Trump’s plan to roll back carbon emission regulations could be deadly

Why Trump’s plan to roll back carbon emission regulations could be deadly

Rule, which will replace the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, proposes to allow coal-producing states to develop and set their own rules for carbon emissions.

The EPA's planwould replace President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan - the centerpiece of the previous administration's efforts to combat climate change - by giving states more leeway to ease emissions rules for aging power plants.

The clean power plan set the first national U.S. pollution limits on coal plants but has never come into force, after a coalition of states challenged it in court.

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.

President Donald Trump is hoping to fire up coal country by lifting federal regulations on greenhouse gases from power plants.

The proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule returns regulation of power-plant emissions to a legal framework following unprecedented overreach. "The era of top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates is over", said Andrew Wheeler, interim administrator of the EPA, as he announced that states will have more leeway to devise their own emissions guidelines.

Easing the pressure on industry will bolster coal's fortunes over the next decade, compared with the clean power plan, as well as slightly reducing electricity prices.

The Trump plan will be the subject of a 60-day public comment period, after it appears in the Federal Register.

Critics warned the plan will boost emissions from power plants, which emit about 28% of USA greenhouse gases, and worsen global warming.

The increase in pollutants is also expected to bring up to 96,000 new cases of exacerbated asthma by 2030, the EPA's figures show.

Those numbers are not addressed in the EPA's new report. It says the new plan would act legally and provide more flexibility to the states. "Climate change is real", McCarthy said. Coal-fired power plants, which have been shutting down in record numbers because of tighter regulations and competition from natural gas and alternative fuels, would get a reprieve.

"Our planning and long-term investment in the communities where we work and live extends far beyond any single presidential administration", he said.

The plan, released by the Environmental Protection Agency, will direct states to establish standards for such plants rather than speeding their retirement.

With natural gas and renewable sources of power becoming more efficient and less costly, the coal industry is being left in the dust.

States would identify standards of performance for the existing power plants and set specific allowable emission rates expressed on a pound Carbon dioxide per MWH-gross rate for affected emission units based on the application of these technologies.

One of the key differences between the Trump rule and the Obama one is the lack of pollution goals.

"It is the states that can best tackle the question of how we reduce emissions without raising people's electric bills and hurting our economy", Barrasso wrote.

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