Trump administration rolls back Obama-era restrictions on coal plants

Trump climate change coal

Trump climate change coal

It's replacing the Obama rule with a less ambitious one that gives states more discretion in regulating those power plants.

"These provisions will give states and the private sector the regulatory certainty they need to invest in new technologies that increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions", said Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who grew up in Southwest Ohio. "New York Attorney General Letitia James promised to bring the EPA to court over what she called a "'Dirty Power' rule".

President Donald Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the US coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

One item that the ACE rule did not include in its final version is an update to the New Source Review, a program requiring new plants or major upgrades to power plants to obtain environmental permits. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler says coal is essential to the nation's power grid.

"Americans want reliable energy that they can afford", he said at a news conference.

There's no denying "fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix", Wheeler said.

New York's attorney general says the state will sue to block the Trump administration's rollback of an Obama-era rule created to wean the nation's electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.

"We're not ready for renewable we need coal", declared Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican.

"I believe this is the first rule in EPA's history that acknowledges the existential threat of climate change but by the agency's own admission does absolutely nothing to stop it", she said in a statement.

While the Obama administration and Democrats saw the Clean Power Plan as a crucial component in worldwide efforts to curb global warming, Republicans have long claimed those regulations went too far and were too costly.

The Trump administration finalized a new carbon emissions rule for US power plants on Wednesday that it said could cut pollution without damaging the coal industry, replacing a much tougher Obama-era version to fight climate change.

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The Clean Power Plan was one of former U.S. President Barack Obama's signature efforts to curb climate-changing emissions.

The Obama plan aimed at encouraging what already had been market-driven changes in the nation's electrical grid, pushing coal-fired power plants out and prodding utilities to rely more on natural gas, solar, wind and other lower- or no-carbon fuels.

"The Trump administration has made painfully clear that they are incapable of rising to the challenge and tackling this crisis".

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Burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and heat is the main human source of heat-trapping carbon emissions. Wheeler said the changes are being made because "the American public elected a president with a better approach". They condemned Wednesday's act.

Democrats and environmental activists have called for the government to take a more aggressive role in combating climate change, including reducing the use of fossil fuels and drastically reducing emissions of CO2.

"This is an immoral and an illegal attack on clean air, clean energy, and the health of the public, and it shows just how heartless the Trump administration is when it comes to appeasing its polluter allies", said Michael Brune, head of the US environmental group Sierra Club.

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Wednesday he would take the pen Wheeler used to sign the final rule and give it to Trump as a memento, adding USA carbon emissions have fallen in recent years despite a growing economy, proving the Obama rule was not needed.

"We're leveling the playing field" in terms of regulations on various energy sources "to allow that investment to occur", he said.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that it would replace the Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy rule or ACE. Environmental groups promise court challenges there, too.

An Associated Press analysis on Tuesday of federal air data showed United States progress on cleaning the air may be stagnating after decades of improvement. Despite Trump's repeated false claims that America's air is the cleanest it's ever been, there were 15% more days with unhealthful air both last year and the year before than on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.

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