EPA announces rollback of Obama-era coal emissions rule

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 9, 2018

It would allow new coal plants to emit up to 1,900 pounds (862 kg) of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity, up from 1,400 pounds now.

The EPA's new source performance standards does away with the previous standard's requirement for affected coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture and storage at new coal plants - a technology critically important to achieving emissions reductions but not yet available at a broad and cost-effective scale, according to the environmental authority.

But like other Trump administration efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations, the decision is nearly certain to face legal challenges from environmental groups.

Wheeler called the Obama rules "excessive burdens" for the coal industry.

"I'd love to see coal plants being built in China and India meet our standards", he said.

Wheeler said the Trump administration's proposed policy would have "high yet achievable standards that are rooted in reality", that would result in "leveling the playing field" for all types of fuels. With people like this running the country, we are nearly certainly doomed to live out the worst case scenarios in that climate report, as Ring of Fire's Farron Cousins explains. MaCabe in a statement cited the conclusion of the EPA's own staff earlier this year that pending rollbacks on existing coal plants would cause thousands of early deaths from the fine soot and risky particles and gases.

"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.

Proposal eases limits of carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants, making it easier to build new ones.

Xcel Energy added to that trend this week, committing to eliminate carbon emissions from its power generation by 2050 as it moves to replace coal with wind and solar resources across its eight-state service area.

The Trump administration took aim at two Obama-era environmental policies on Thursday to boost the oil and coal industries, proposing to open up a wildlife habitat to drilling and mining and to remove hurdles to the construction of coal-fired power plants. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.

Attempts under the George W. Bush and Trump administrations to promote so-called clean coal use had little to no practical impact on carbon emissions but became large profit makers for investors and energy companies through taxpayer-underwritten subsidies.

"If the administration is serious about helping coal-dependent communities, it should instead be investing in creating new economic opportunities, so people all across the country can reap the benefits of a clean energy transition". The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects 2018 to mark the lowest level of coal consumption since 1979.

But coal industry officials believe this rule change will still help.

"We are not picking winners and losers here", he said. This is set to worsen as a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence expects U.S. power producers to take at least another 19.8GW of coal-fired power plant capacity offline between 2018 and 2022. Another 22.9 gigawatts of coal plants are already scheduled for shutdown by 2024.

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