EPA Ready to Kill Greenhouse Gas Rule on New Coal Power Plants

New EPA proposal aimed at helping coal industry

Administrator Andrew Wheeler today announced a proposal to roll back power plant carbon standards, set in 2015, that had required lowered carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed coal-fired power plants.

A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down.

Nevertheless, Doniger called the proposal a "head-in-the-sand" attempt to pander to the coal industry for which Wheeler used to lobby, and to ignore ever-growing evidence of the risks of climate change. The Trump administration wants to bump that up by about 33 percent with our new rule, and they're going to allow up to 1900 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity produced. He spoke alongside Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, a long-time opponent of former President Barack Obama's limits on carbon emissions.

Sen. Tom Carper released a statement December 6 regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to ease carbon dioxide limits placed on new coal-fired power plants. The EPA hopes to finalize the rule after a public comment period. He argued the result of the rollback would be cheaper energy.

Ironically, the new tax law approved by the Republican-controlled Congress has encouraged coal plants to close, as utilities use a provision that allows them to accelerate depreciation costs for closing plants, he said.

It's been less than a week since we got that massive EPA climate assessment warning us how bad things are going to get in this country if we do not address the problem of climate change.

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.

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Trump's agenda to encourage more fossil fuels use clashes with a congressionally mandated government report that came out last month saying climate change is driven mainly by human activity and will cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.

The latest Trump administration environmental rollback, if adopted, likely would have little real-world impact, both industry representatives and environmental activists said.

While coal plants have been on the decline for years, due to a combination of cheaper natural gas options and regulations from the federal government, the new ruling is the latest step meant to boost the industry. US coal demand has been falling since 2007 in the face of competition from increasingly abundant and affordable natural gas and renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. Still, it also lists plans for 77 retirements.

"The science is telling us we drastically need to cut back on the emissions from fossil fuel combustion", Doniger said. The potential to deploy the technologies domestically could spur more research and development for export, he said.

President Donald Trump has made bringing back the coal industry and abundant coal jobs a tenet of his administration.

"Coal deserves a level playing field, and that's what this White House is trying to accomplish", McConnell said.

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