Pres. Trump EPA proposes rolling back another Obama-era coal rule

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The 2015 rule becomes the latest Obama-era effort against climate-changing fossil fuel emissions to be targeted by the Trump administration.

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.

Andrew Wheeler said the curbs on coal emissions were "excessive burdens" on the industry.

Trump "talks tough to the coal miners to get their support, but he doesn't deliver for them, and I don't think that he can, because the markets are bigger than him", said Joe Pizarchik, who directed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the Obama administration.

Janet McCabe, an EPA air official under the Obama administration, and others challenged that.

The EPA was "turning its back on its responsibility to protect human health", McCabe said.

Utilities, analysts and EPA's own analysis of the NSPS rollback say that new US coal plants are unlikely due to competition from cheaper resources, despite the loosening of multiple environmental regulations.

The announcement came ahead of annual United Nations climate talks in Poland next week, where White House officials plan a panel on coal technology.

"By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America's historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world".

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Despite some fiery rhetoric from president Donald Trump in support of the domestic coal industry, there is now only a single coal-fire plant under construction, with several other projects mothballed.

"Did the EPA even read the National Climate Assessment?"

"There are not going to be any new coal plants built in the USA, with or without this", said David Doniger, a senior climate and energy policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noting that the low price of natural gas in recent years has made coal less economically viable.

The announcement follows a recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report showing that domestic coal use will sink to a 39-year low this year, largely due to a drop in its use for generating electricity. There's one bright spot in all this and it is that coal demand in the United States has fallen by 40 percent, 40 percent because it's outdated, it's dirty, and it's less efficient, so even though they're repealing this rule and putting their new let's pollute more rule in place, there actually are no new coal fired power plants that this rule could apply to at least as it stands right now.

Citing that and other Obama administration moves to tamp down emissions from coal-fired power plants in the national electrical grid, McConnell called the proposal "a crucial step toward undoing the damage and putting coal back on a level playing field".

But advocates of renewable energy say that the sort of drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions needed to slow global warming would come only with the continued closing of coal plants and replacing them with wind, solar or geothermal facilities.

"In every rulemaking, they're placing their thumbs on the scale to prop up coal, at the expense of public health and the environment", Duffy said.

"It does appear that this proposal would make it feasible for new coal plants" to be built, Bloodworth said.

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