Trump's EPA Plans To Ease Carbon Emissions Rule For New Coal Plants

Trump administration to lift barriers to build new coal plants

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed rolling back an Obama-era rule requiring new USA coal plants to slash carbon emissions, a move that could crack open the door in coming years for new plants fired by the fossil fuel.

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.

The moves, part of a broader agenda by U.S. President Donald Trump to revive the ailing coal industry and ramp up domestic energy production, come amid increasingly urgent warnings from within his own government about climate change and as world leaders gather at a United Nations conference to combat planetary warming. The removal or diminution of the rule could help make new coal plants more financially attractive to run and drive up carbon emissions. 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.

The EPA will collect public comments on the proposal for 60 days and plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule change.

In a ceremony today at the agency, acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposal to dismantle a 2015 rule that any new coal power plants include cutting-edge techniques to capture the carbon dioxide from their smokestacks.

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, just days after a United States government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

Companies like Duke Energy have announced plans to close coal-fired power plants, according to the Charlotte Observer, and say they don't plan to open more coal-powered facilities in the future.

"This administration cares about action and results, not talks and wishful thinking", he said.

Trump administration to lift barriers to build new coal plants
Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Dec. 2018

The EPA has already moved to rescind Obama-era rules on carbon and mercury emissions from existing and modified generators, as well as regulations on coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal.

"Still, this is an especially galling move, coming on the heels of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, an authoritative scientific report from 13 federal agencies, including the EPA, which documents the toll that climate impacts are already taking on our economy, infrastructure and health-a toll which will worsen as heat-trapping emissions rise".

Trump's agenda to encourage more use of fossil fuels 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. But he added "a lot of the media's focused on is the worst-case scenario".

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

"We are not picking winners and losers here", he said.

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.

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

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