EPA Proposes Rollback on Coal Emissions Regulation

EPA Proposes Rollback on Coal Emissions Regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency acted again today to ease rules on the sagging USA coal industry, this time scaling back what would have been a tough control on climate-changing emissions from any new coal plants.

The Trump administration took aim at two Obama-era environmental policies on December 6 to boost the oil and coal industries, proposing to open up a wildlife habitat to drilling and mining and remove hurdles to new coal-fired power plant construction.

Environmentalists and scientists say that and other rollbacks run counter to efforts to slow climate change.

The latest Trump administration environmental rollback, if adopted, likely would have little real-world impact, both industry representatives and environmental activists said.

But coal industry officials believe this rule change will still help.

The EPA suggested high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal technologies, in contrast, were making a difference around the world right now.

Rolling back the Obama administration's New Source rules would remove another regulatory hurdle for new generators. Wheeler echoed that talking point in a Thursday event at EPA headquarters in Washington.

"Acting Administrator Wheeler today continued the Trump administration's shameful rampage against climate and clean energy policies". "They knew [CCS] technology was not adequately demonstrated". The rule would replace the Obama-era standard allowing only 1,400 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour.

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Under the proposed revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), EPA would let new coal plants emit up to 1,900 pounds (862 kg) of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity. The Affordable Clean Energy Rule, as it's called, aimed to replace Obama's Clean Power Plan, though the administration has faced legal challenges.

Government data shows that US coal consumption is at its lowest level in 39 years and that coal-fired power plants continue to close, citing cheaper natural gas, older facilities, and competition from renewable energy.

Other Trump administration initiatives rolling aback climate change efforts would undo an Obama plan meant to shift the national electrical grid away from coal and toward cleaner-burning solar and wind power, and would relax pending tougher mileage standards for cars and light trucks. They blasted the EPA's announcement.

"E$3 ven under the emissions limits included in this proposal, new fossil fuel-fired capacity constructed through 2026 and the years following is expected to be natural gas capacity", it reads. And amid reports that Carbon dioxide emissions are rising again, as well as the administration's own report that climate change is causing more severe weather more frequently and could eventually hurt the US economy.

Asked if the EPA had an estimate on whether the new proposal would result in many new coal plants being built, Wheeler said that was not up to the agency.

"The science is telling us we drastically need to cut back on the emissions from fossil fuel combustion", Doniger said.

But miners, oil drillers, and ranchers in some Western states have said the plan unnecessarily hurt economic development.

Ironically, the new tax law approved by the Republican-controlled Congress has encouraged coal plants to close, as utilities use a provision that allows them to accelerate depreciation costs for closing plants, he said.

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