Trump to relax carbon limits on power plants to support USA coal

Daniel Acker  Bloomberg via Getty Images

The administration of US President Donald Trump has proposed new rules that would scale back limits on coal-fired power plants, a move critics said would have dire environmental and health consequences.

The savings highlighted in Trump's proposal - $400 million in annual net benefits with a reduction in Carbon dioxide emissions of up to 1.5 percent by 2030 - include a severe human cost, which the agency mentions in the fine print of its 289-page impact analysis.

The EPA under the Trump administration argues its previous work is costly and unlawful, a position held by a coalition of states that sued the agency to stop the clean power plan.

Wehrum said that because of the shifting energy landscape, he expected emissions to fall at a rate "roughly comparable" to the goals outlined under the Obama-era plan, which called for a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gases from power plants by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.

The fights that have taken place over the Clean Air Act may be mirrored by legal battles over the new Affordable Clean Energy proposal.

Even so, the Obama plan has been a factor in a wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power and state mandates that promote energy conservation.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whose candidacy for U.S. Senate was another focal point of the Trump visit, praised the proposal.

The Republican Attorneys General Association also liked what they heard from Trump White House. "And, together, we won an historic stay from the Supreme Court of the United States - stopping the so-called 'Clean Power Plan'".

"My colleagues and I have been at this for some time", McConnell said.

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The Clean Power Plan faced powerful opposition from almost the moment it was signed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cancelling public hearings slated for Washington, D.C, Detroit and Los Angeles to discuss its proposed weakening of Obama-era vehicle efficiency standards.

Bill Wehrum, head of the EPA's air office, told reporters that the administration rejects any suggestion the agency has a broad legal duty to combat climate change through regulation of power grids or promotion of cleaner energy. The Obama plan says 1,500 and 3,600 premature deaths would be avoided.

States would determine which of the technologies are appropriate for each plant and establish a standard of performance reflecting the degree of emission reduction from their application.

Trump's regulations have to go through a 60-day public comment period before they are finalized.

Legal challenges are likely, just as they were for the Clean Power Plan.

The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed relaxing pollution standards for power plants nationwide, a move that could slow the decline of U.S. carbon emissions and lead to hundreds more premature deaths and thousands of asthma attacks and missed school days.

"We've got a billionaire governor who owns coal mines". Despite the best efforts of Trump, Wheeler, and their pals in the fossil fuel industry, clean energy is winning nationwide and helping to reduce the pollution that harms our families, our climate, our air, and our water. "He's trying to please his fellow billionaire buddy Governor Jim Justice at the sake of all the rest of us".

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., issued her own statement in favor of the new proposal and criticizing the Clean Power Plan. At the federal level, we'll take aggressive action in the courts and at the state and local level to oppose this unlawful Pruitt-Wheeler plan. "Not only was the one-size fits-all approach disastrous for West Virginia's coal industry, but there was also absolutely no consideration for the economic effects the plan would have on an energy-rich state like ours".