Trump administration proposes rolling back Obama's Clean Power Plan

Essen Germany

Trump will join supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, for a political rally on Tuesday to celebrate his administration's proposal to allow states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants.

Coal fired power plants have always been a staple of the USA power grid, but are declining due to competition from natural gas, which is cheaper, and wind and solar power, which are far more agreeable to the environment and human health. That will hasten climate change along with their copious carbon pollution and endanger public health with soot and particulate matter emissions.

What has the Trump administration done? In less than two years in office, Trump has appointed officials who deny the science of global warming, sought to defund climate change programs and begun the process of pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. This suggests that the Trump administration doesn't have the appetite to take on the "science" of global warming.

"The US is not on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, the best chance that we have for averting catastrophic climate change", said Houser, who served in the State Department under President Barack Obama.

By contrast, the Obama administration projected that its rule would have cut emissions 19% over the same time frame.

The Obama administration used a new reading of the Clean Air Act to implement the new and expansive rules. But Wehrum acknowledged that move had failed.

Under the new rule, there will be "no lower limit" on emissions targets, Bill Wehrum, the assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, said during the phone conference.

Arguably the most damaging of all Obama's climate policies is still live and risky: the EPA's notorious 2009 CO2 Endangerment Finding.

The new rule is a dramatic departure from the Obama-era measure that it replaces.

Under the Clean Power Plan, Minnesota wasn't expected to see much impact because the state's utilities had already begun phasing out coal, mostly for economic reasons. She said strong, immediate action was needed to curb climate change pollution and promote affordable, clean, and sustainable energy.

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 roll back comes as the president plans to hit the campaign trail to support state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey who is running from a U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia, a major coal-producing state.

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 such plants are harming the nation's electrical grid and reducing its resilience.

The EPA called the Obama-era regulations on coal power plants "overly prescriptive and burdensome".

Trump wasn't correct in saying it has gone away, though.

The move is just the latest effort by the Trump administration to revive an ailing coal industry and strip climate change-fighting regulations established by the Obama administration. More CO2 emissions means more of the other harmful stuff. Earlier in August, they announced plans to scale back fuel efficiency requirements for cars; past year, they pulled out of the Paris agreement on climate change.

But EPA officials did not describe their move as an attempt to save coal. In that view, regulating coal-fired power plants is as far as the agency can go. The plan was halted by the USA supreme court in 2016 and has never come into force.

Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. Now, the tables have turned, and the EPA will have to answer lawsuits coming from the other side to answer whether its ignoring its obligation to address the issue.

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