Trump plan rolls back Obama’s coal emissions standards

This stock photo shows the Lake Side Power Station in Vineyard, Utah, Feb. 28, 2008 | Photo by mscalora via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — The Trump administration is set to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s efforts to slow global warming: the Clean Power Plan that restricts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

A plan to be announced in coming days would give states broad authority to determine how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The Environmental Protect Agency announced late Monday that acting administrator Andrew Wheeler planned to brief the news media by telephone Tuesday on greenhouse guidelines for states to set performance standards for existing coal-fired power plants.

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to salute U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. | Associated Press photo by Andrew Harnik, St. George News

President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new plan at an appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday.

The plan also would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, according to a summary of the plan and several people familiar with the full proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

Combined with a planned rollback of car-mileage standards, the plan represents a significant retreat from Obama-era efforts to fight climate change and would reverse an Obama-era push to shift away from coal and toward less-polluting energy sources such as natural gas, wind and solar power. Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry.

Trump also has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take steps to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, warning that impending retirements of “fuel-secure” power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation’s power grid and reducing its resilience.

The White House had no immediate comment on the plan, and the EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday.

A three-page summary being circulated at the White House focuses on boosting efficiency at coal-fired power plants and allowing states to reduce “wasteful compliance costs” while focusing on improved environmental outcomes. Critics say focusing on improved efficiency would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits.

The White House rejects that criticism.

“Carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector will continue to fall under this rule, but this will happen legally and with proper respect for the states, unlike (the Clean Power Plan),” the summary says. The AP obtained a copy of the summary, which asserts that the Obama-era plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

Obama’s plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.

The Supreme Court put the plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.

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.

Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a “war on coal” waged by Obama.

“This is really a plan to prop up coal plants — or try to,” said David Doniger, a climate expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

The Trump plan “will make no meaningful reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions, Doniger said. “And it probably will make emissions worse.”

Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA administrator when the Clean Power Plan was created in 2015, said that based on draft proposals and news reports, she expects the plan will not set specific federal targets for reducing emissions from coal-fired plants.

The plan is expected to address power plants individually rather than across the electric grid as the EPA proposed under Obama. The new plan would give utilities and states more flexibility in achieving emissions reductions, but critics say it could harm public health.

“They are continuing to play to their base and following industry’s lead,” McCarthy said of the Trump administration and its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist. “This is all about coal at all costs.”

Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that represents coal producers, called the new rule a marked departure from the “gross overreach” of the Obama administration and said it should prevent a host of premature coal-plant retirements.

“We agree with those policymakers who have become increasingly concerned that coal retirements are a threat to grid resilience and national security,” she said.

Written by MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • iceplant August 21, 2018 at 7:05 am

    This “president” is an imbittered man-child throwing a near constant temper tantrum.
    Thankfully, coal is on its way out and we won’t have to worry about air pollution much longer.

    • Happy Commenter August 21, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Keep chasing that carrot!

    • Fester August 21, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Coal will be with us all our lives, the US is the KSA of coal. And there’s no more efficient fuel than fossil fuels. Renewables are an expensive luxury, the best they can do is provide a redundant capability, they always require backup by fossil fuel generators of sufficient size to meet peak demand.

      If there’s anybody having tantrums these days it is the left, libs are having a big non-stop one since 2016.

      • iceplant August 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm

        Coal might be around “all our lives” but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the way out.
        Renewables are cheaper in the long term and natural gas is a better and cleaner source of fossil fuels.
        You folks on the right who think coal is some magic rock are so cute. Bless your hearts.

  • Travis August 21, 2018 at 7:29 am

    “Trump also has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry” – Rick Perry is still in the cabinet? Rick Perry is the Energy Secretary? Where has he been for 19 months? Hiding from Trump?

  • Fester August 21, 2018 at 11:51 am

    The latest world climate report from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy finds that in 2017, America reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries. That’s especially impressive given that our economy grew by nearly 3 percent — so we had more growth and less pollution — the best of all worlds.

    Meanwhile China, India, and a large host of other countries are building more and more coal plants. The US is the 4th largest country in the world by land mass, but it is still only 5% of the world’s land. The wind blows where it will. Given the US is the cleanest country in the world, and also that cheap energy is a proven way to improve the lives of all the people – rich and poor, we should not fret over some small amount of coal emissions.

    • iceplant August 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      “so we had more growth and less pollution — the best of all worlds.”

      Thank you, President Obama.

    • Chris August 21, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      ” US is the cleanest country in the world” Not even close. You must be getting your alternative facts from Trump.

  • Chris August 21, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Coal fired plants are dying because of free market forces, namely cheaper, cleaner natural gas. This action by Trump will have no effect on this trend. Coal is finished.

  • Kilroywashere August 21, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    According to Professor Emiritus Guy Mcpherson of AZ we only have a few years anyway before human extinction takes its course due to climate changes. This guy, a doomsayer, no doubt, is a strange cat, and not off the deep end as such individuals of this kind tend to be. Regardless Science is speculative and different opinions challenge his view. But if he is right, or even partially right, even the most prepared humans will be helpless. As one poster points out, other countries are expanding coal production, especially India & China. So it doesn’t matter what we do in the US. I’m not sure the world is going down for the count, but my mind like most of us cannot process the magnitude of such an outcome. Either way, it really doesn’t matter, and one should live their life to the fullest as the future is always uncertain. I firmly believe if we are to heal this planet from an eco standpoint, we need to develop the technology as fast as possible. It is too late to shift the technological paradigm to cleaner energies. We would have had to do that back in the 70s is my guess. Regardless, time is not on our side, so let’s hope we can at least find a temporary fix. Geo engineering, may be one solution, who knows. All I can say is T – 2 weeks until College football season begins. I don’t watch pro ball anymore, as it has turned into a political circus.

  • DB August 21, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I stopped listening ever since the Chipotle Exec proclaimed that we will run out of guacamole within a few years due to global warming. I’m also of a certain age to remember the warnings of global cooling in the 70s. Enough. Y’all are going to have to work on the millenials because I’ve tuned out.

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