Trump administration proposes rolling back Obama's Clean Power Plan

Jo Lloyd
August 22, 2018

Critics say the decision will result in much more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

"The entire Obama administration plan was centered around doing away with coal", Wheeler told the Journal in an interview.

Details of the plan are being released Tuesday morning, and President Donald Trump is expected to promote the new policy during a trip Tuesday evening to Charleston, West Virginia. Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said the rule change was "at the top" of the coal industry's list of policy priorities, because utility executives had been shuttering coal plants at a fast pace when faced with the prospect of curbing emissions of not just carbon dioxide, but mercury, soot and smog-forming pollutants. The plan also lets states relax pollution rules for power plants that require upgrades. His plan restricted greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Yet under the Obama EPA's Clean Power Plan, the state said it would give the administration a very narrow plan on how it would meet those new greenhouse gas reduction requirements.

What does this mean for climate change?

What are the main differences between the Trump administration's proposals and the clean power plan?

Tuesday's proposal is the latest move by the current administration to roll back environmental protections put in place by Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama.

"The announcement of a replacement rule may largely represent a political milestone for a president who promised to end his predecessor's 'war on coal, ' but we also view it as a significant policy action that could to make it hard for a differently oriented successor to establish greenhouse gas limits on any stationary sector via executive discretion", ClearView Energy Partners managing director Kevin Book said in a research note to clients.

Instead, the Trump administration is emphasizing efficiency improvements at coal plants, while conceding that such a move will do little to reduce global warming.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey cited this summer's wildfires, increasing droughts and coastal flooding as evidence that man-made climate change from burning coal and other fossil fuels is already happening.

In a New York Times video op-ed, former coal miner Nick Mullins says the health costs should bury Trump's attempts to salvage a dying coal industry. Carbon emissions are expected to fall by a total of 0.7 to 1.5 percent between 2005 and 2030 - or about one-twelfth the anticipated reductions under the Obama plan.

In the Southeast, where states lined up against the Clean Power Plan, big utilities such as Atlanta-based Southern Co. now say they are moving to a low- or no-carbon fleet. Trump's rollback doesn't even establish carbon reduction targets, but we will continue to make headway nevertheless.

"Once again, this administration is choosing polluters' profits over public health and safety", he said.

'The Obama administration waged a war on American energy with devastating consequences for workers and manufacturers, ' the Wisconsin Republican said.

The public will have 60 days to comment on the Affordable Clean Energy rule once it appears in the Federal Register.

The Supreme Court put Obama's plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect. That entailed the "steady retirement of the company aging coal-fired plants", DTE said, including the shuttering of 11 coal units by the early 2020s (E&E News PM, May 16, 2017).

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