President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday announced a plan to weaken regulations on U.S. coal plants, giving a boost to an industry that former leader Barack Obama had hoped to wind down in order to cut harmful emissions that drive global warming.
"They're trying to put in place approaches that would undermine in the long term EPA's ability to do what many of us think is its responsibility under environmental laws to protect the public health", Janet McCabe, EPA air chief under Obama, said.
Trump is expected to tout the proposal as a lifeline for coal at a West Virginia rally later on Tuesday (we'll probably also hear about CLEAN COAL!), but it's unlikely to save a dying, economically unfeasible industry.
Even with the new rules from Trump's EPA that would reduce regulations on coal plants compared to those pushed by the Obama administration, the trend toward natural gas is likely to continue. In 2016, the U.S. supreme court paused the plan ahead of legal arguments.
Rule, which replaces Obama-era attempts to limit air pollution, provides suggestions for efficiency improvements, leaving the actual regulations up to the state.
"The Obama administration and their plan were really engaged in social engineering and that is not the role of the US E.P.A.", said Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the EPA.
It also acknowledged that the increased emissions from aging coal-fired plants could kill hundreds more people annually and cost the country billions of dollars.
The EPA estimates that its plan will reduce retail electricity prices by 0.2 to 0.5 percent by 2025 and ramp up coal production for power-sector use by 4.5 to 5.8 percent, according to the agency's cost-benefit analysis. Under Clean Power, each state was assigned emission reduction targets.
Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, held a community forum in Owensboro on Wednesday, where much of the attention was focused on the Trump Administration's "Affordable Clean Energy" plan announced the day before.
Washington has joined with other states to mount court challenges to six other proposed changes by the EPA, over topics including new rules for methane, ozone and pesticides, Sherman said.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations for the nation's coal-burning power plants Tuesday, giving more flexibility to emission control.
The new rule is a dramatic departure from the Obama-era measure that it replaces.
"I am thrilled the Trump administration kept its word to the American people by throwing out the so-called 'Clean Power Plan, '" she said.
Critics said the Trump plan would hurt efforts to fight climate change and negatively impact public health.
There are no coal-fired power plants now operating in Rhode Island or MA. Gov. Jim Justice said the rule was "a big win for West Virginia".
Goffman served as the EPA's associate assistant administrator for climate and senior counsel in the Office of Air and Radiation from 2009-2017. The EPA called the Obama rules "overly prescriptive and burdensome".