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EPA announces rollback of Obama-era coal emissions rule
09 December 2018, 02:23 | Edward Lowe
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to roll back another coal regulation - this one for new coal plants.
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 PresidentDonald Trump to revive the ailing coal industry and ramp up domestic energy production, comes on the heels of a congressionally mandated report which warned about the hypothetical impact of climate change, and as world leaders gather at a United Nations conference to address global warming. 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. 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 hopes to finalize the rule after a public comment period.
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The original 2015 rule would have required carbon-capture and storage technology for new coal plants.
"Their interpretation was disingenuous", Wheeler said of the Obama administration.
Wheeler argued the proposal would not boost USA greenhouse emissions but would actually help drive them down by encouraging US investment in new energy technologies, which could then be exported.
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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 U.S. government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.
Ironically, the new tax law approved by the Republican-controlled Congress has encouraged coal plants to close, as utilities use a provision that allows them to accelerate depreciation costs for closing plants, he said.
But coal industry officials believe this rule change will still help. "With this decision, this EPA is willfully choosing to ignore the clear science on climate change, put our health at risk and hamper our economy", said Carper. But he added "a lot of the media's focused on is the worst-case scenario".
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The reversal won't lead to the immediate construction of new coal-fired power plants, but it does send an immediate political signal that the Trump administration is intent on shoring up the coal industry and other energy interests. There's one bright spot in all this and it is that coal demand in the United States has fallen by 40 percent, 40 percent because it's outdated, it's dirty, and it's less efficient, so even though they're repealing this rule and putting their new let's pollute more rule in place, there actually are no new coal fired power plants that this rule could apply to at least as it stands right now. Still, it also lists plans for 77 retirements.
"We are not picking winners and losers here", he said.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke previous year had ordered a review of protections for the sage-grouse to "ensure conservation efforts do not impede local economic opportunities", one of numerous reviews of Obama-era environmental protections launched by Trump's administration.
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"Coal deserves a level playing field, and that's what this White House is trying to accomplish", McConnell said.
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