EPA Announces Another Give Away to Coal Industry

EPA Announces Another Give Away to Coal Industry

It hasn't even been two weeks since the release of the EPA's climate change assessment, and already the Trump administration is trying to role back environmental protections.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rolling back a regulation for coal plants that would allow new plants a lower standard on carbon emissions. The most recent US climate report stated that climate change, caused by human activity, was happening quickly and would carry a terribly large cost in environmental, social, and economic impact.

Although the Obama rule regulations did not directly prohibit the construction of new coal power plants, such carbon emission caps were an effective prohibition.

The EPA made the announcement Thursday, saying the Obama-era ruling required new coal plants to produce no more than 1,400 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour.

Despite the continued drops in domestic coal use, 2018 has been a better year for the industry thanks to soaring exports, said Joe Aldina, director of USA coal analysis for S&P Global Platts. The Affordable Clean Energy Rule, as it's called, aimed to replace Obama's Clean Power Plan, though the administration has faced legal challenges. CEO Tom Fanning told Utility Dive he still did not expect to invest in new coal plants or upgrades for his existing units because of competition from cheaper resources.

"There are not going to be any new coal plants built in the US, 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. 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 unsafe particles and gases.

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"The forward curve for natural gas looks exceedingly attractive", he said. Earlier proposals would dismantle a plan meant to shift the national electrical grid away from coal and toward cleaner-burning solar and wind power, and would relax pending tougher mileage standards for cars and light trucks.

"E$3 ven under the emissions limits included in this proposal, new fossil fuel-fired capacity constructed through 2026 and the years following is expected to be natural gas capacity", it reads.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, echoed that argument in announcing the proposed rule change. Now perhaps repealing this rule might encourage coal companies to go out there and build new plants and whatever, but considering the staggering drop in demand, that seems unlikely, so this may actually be one of those cases where the Trump administration comes in, repeals and Obama rule allows for more pollution, but that pollution may not actually materialize because they're, once again, essentially betting on a dead horse because that's what coal is at this point.

"We are not picking winners and losers here", he said. The oil and mining industries, however, have said the limits to development are overreaching.

"Today's proposal is nothing more than another thoughtless attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up their backwards and false narrative about reviving coal at the expense of science, public safety, and reality", said Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

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