This week the Trump administration proposed a rule for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired electrical generating plants, fulfilling a promise to replace an Obama-era plan to cut emissions from coal plants by one-third between now and 2030.
TUCKED inside the Trump administration's plan to ease carbon dioxide limits is a change that could breathe new life into scores of ageing coal power plants.
At a campaign rally in Charleston for state attorney general and senate candidate Patrick Morrisey, President Donald Trump touted the coal industry's comeback in West Virginia.
Indiana University McKinney School of Law professor Janet McCabe helped form the Clean Power Plan under President Barack Obama.
The Affordable Clean Energy Rule sets guidelines for states to develop their own plans to target carbon emissions and allows them to scrap the Clean Power Plans' more stringent national targets.
"This proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan will make our efforts to reduce carbon pollution more hard, and will remove a strong incentive for state and federal governments to work together to clean up our air".
"However much people may want EPA to regulate power grids, however much people may want EPA to demand that new renewable energy be built instead of fossil-fuel plants, we do not have that authority under this part of the act", Wehrum said. She says, if the state decides to go with the federal standard for greenhouse gas emissions, she's not sure what that would mean for Indiana. We're going to have more asthma.
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Bill Wehrum, administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, acknowledged that the industry "continues to transform in front of our eyes". The new rules could take years to implement, however, as they're likely to be challenged in court.
"Under this proposal, the air will be dirtier and we'll be less healthy as a country because President Trump is siding with a few powerful special interests", said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. We've seen how climate change is impacting Lake Erie, with algae blooms causing a water crisis for the communities that depend on it.
The coal industry welcomed the move, which follows attempts by the Trump administration to pare back emissions standards for vehicles and throw open more of America's lands and waters to mining and drilling.
One claim running through justifications for the ACE is that the previous administration was exceeding the bounds of what was always known as cooperative federalism, the idea that states and the federal government can work together as partners in protecting environmental quality. "We have abundant legal authority to deal with those pollutants directly", he told reporters. Washingtonians deserve clean air to breathe.
It's not clear how many coal power plant owners might take advantage of the opening to improve their facilities, amid stiff competition from cheap natural gas and with no hint of price relief on the horizon.
Morrisey was an outspoken opponent of the Clean Power Plan. The EPA called the Obama rules "overly prescriptive and burdensome".