EPA Rolling Out New Coal-Friendly Rules

Brian Snyder  Reuters FILE

Brian Snyder Reuters FILE

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its final Affordable Clean Energy rule, a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that will do virtually nothing to curb USA power plant carbon emissions, despite the many cost-effective options available, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"We expect under the Clean Power Plan, there certainly would have been a lot more", said Ms. Bloodworth.

"The Affordable Clean Energy rule - ACE - gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide affordable and reliable energy for all Americans", Wheeler said. Yet nearly none of those emissions reductions are attributable to EPA's rule, the agency's analysis shows.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Republican, called Mr. Obama's initiative the "Coal Punishment Plan".

The ACE rule allows states to set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants.

He added that the new rule also puts an end to the "war on coal" launched by Obama.

US coal-plant closings have reached near record numbers in recent years owing to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

The rule also does not address the challenges associated with mining thermal coal in the region: it costs more to extract coal in Appalachia, partly because the region's coal seams have been mined for generations. In Appalachia, coal mines would produce at least 80 percent less coal in 2035 than they did in 2017. Obama's CPP would have resulted in a number of coal plants shutting down, and could have essentially overhauled the entire energy sector.

In comments submitted to the EPA, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. described the new rule as "a vast improvement" over the Clean Power Plan it will replace.

"We're working closely with our partners in both the public and private sectors to research new energy technologies, and a prime example of this is the excellent work that's already underway on carbon capture utilization and storage, or CCUS, which will make our domestic coal fleet more efficient", said Dan Brouillette, deputy secretary of the Energy Department.

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Matt Preston, a coal analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said he could imagine a scenario in which regulated utilities in conservative states use the rule as justification to upgrade their coal facilities.

"At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today's Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership", he said. "Pennsylvania's industries, businesses and consumers rely on the affordable and dependable electricity that is powered by Pennsylvania's coal reserves and produced by Pennsylvania's miners".

GOFFMAN: They occupy a place within a large, diverse and flexible electric grid.

"New York Attorney General Letitia James promised to bring the EPA to court over what she called a "'Dirty Power' rule".

Scientific American admitted that "coal's decline, coupled with a significant injection of new wind and solar, means [that] America is already on track to meet the carbon [emissions] cuts originally envisioned by [Obama's] Clean Power Plan: a 32 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030".

"The right thing to do would be to strengthen the Clean Power Plan and not kill it", he said.

Interestingly, the EPA believes that the ACE rules will be driven by market forces when, in fact, the market has been voting with its feet against coal for years. "This administration isn't do either of those things".

Wheeler told reporters after the signing that he expected new coal plants to open as a result. "It seems like they're basically kind of ignoring the climate change effects that we're having as farmers and ranchers". Coal use is rising worldwide.

"But they have not done that, and without that, I don't believe that the current market trends for coal will get much better", Kotcon said.

"If we don't develop the next generation of clean coal technologies here in the USA, no one else will", Mr. Wheeler said.

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