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Trump’s EPA Signs ‘Deadly’ Clean Power Plan Replacement

Trump’s EPA Signs ‘Deadly’ Clean Power Plan Replacement

Former coal lobbyist and Trump-appointed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a rule Wednesday that officially replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a new regulation that Wheeler said could lead to the opening of more coal plants, the Associated Press reported.

While the Obama administration plan would have established national limits on greenhouse gas emissions and mandated utilities move away from coal, the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule allows states to decide whether and how much to reduce emissions, The New York Times explained.

“I don’t know who is going to invest in a new coal fired power plant, but we’re leveling the playing field to allow that investment to occur,” Wheeler said, as The New York Times reported.

The announcement was roundly criticized by environmental groups, and the attorneys general of California, Oregon, Washington State, Iowa, Colorado and New York all vowed to sue to stop it. Opponents say the plan does not do enough to reduce emissions at a time of growing climate crisis and puts more Americans at risk from air pollution.

The new rule would reduce electricity emissions by less than half of what experts say is needed to stop global temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius, The Washington Post reported. And the EPA’s own initial estimate found the new rule would lead to between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths a year by 2030 due to increased particulate matter pollution. The new rule also comes as U.S. greenhouse gas emissions began to rise again in 2018 after a three-year decline, according to The New York Times. It was also signed a day after the Associated Press reported that U.S. progress on air pollution has stalled.

“This deadly rule rejects science in a groveling effort to satisfy the fossil fuel lobby,” Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Clare Lakewood said in a statement to EcoWatch. “Trump’s EPA is hell-bent on propping up coal at the expense of human health, the survival of endangered species and a livable climate. But we’re confident this attack on our lungs and our planet won’t survive in the courts.”

However, some legal experts told The New York Times there is a danger in suing to stop the rule. The Obama administration’s plan assumed that the EPA had the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on the national level, while the Trump administration plan argues it can only regulate environmental violations at individual plants. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Trump administration plan and interpretation, it could restrict what future presidents are able to do to fight climate change under existing law.

“It could foreclose a new administration from doing something more ambitious,” Harvard University environmental law professor and Obama administration legal counsel Jody Freeman told The New York Times.

The Clean Power Plan itself was suspended by the Supreme Court after it was challenged by hundreds of companies and 28 states.

Bracewell LLP partner Jeff Holmstead, who led the EPA’s air office under President George W. Bush, recommended pushing Congress to pass climate legislation.

“If Trump isn’t reelected and the next president makes climate change a priority, I think there’s a good chance that we’ll see a climate change bill enacted into law, even if Republicans control both houses of Congress,” Holmstead told The Washington Post.

Some argued that the electricity sector is shifting away from coal despite the administration’s attempts to boost the power source.

Beyond Carbon, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new initiative to shut down all U.S. coal plants by 2030, acknowledged the damage that could be done by the Trump administration’s plan while also arguing that it could not stop the national shift away from fossil fuels. Campaign manager Brynne Craig explained in a statement to EcoWatch:

“Each passing month brings new evidence of the climate crisis and the Trump Administration continues to demonstrate its contempt for science and its subversion of fact-based environmental policies. By scrapping the Clean Power Plan, our country’s first ever attempt to cut carbon pollution at the national level, President Trump has weakened climate and air pollution standards and threatened the health and safety of Americans.

“Yet the Trump Administration’s attempts to revive obsolete industries like coal have proven futile: since he has taken office, over 50 coal plants have closed, putting us over halfway to retiring the U.S. coal fleet and showing the undeniable momentum among U.S. markets, organizations, and communities in moving off of dirty, deadly, and costly fossil fuels. American cities, states, and businesses are also inspiring great hope with their work to combat the climate crisis, regardless of the federal government. Beyond Carbon will accelerate these efforts and further the country’s transition toward a clean energy future.”

DTE Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson told The Washington Post the plan would not change his pledge to cut emissions 80 percent by 2040 and close 14 of 18 coal plants by 2030.

“The industry’s in motion, and it’s got its own life,” Anderson told The Washington Post. “We’re moving on, and the rest of the industry is in a similar direction.”


Source: EcoWatch

By: Olivia Rosane Jun. 20, 2019 06:49AM EST










Another reporter: New York Times

CreditCreditKevin Moloney for The New York Times

The rule represents the Trump administration’s most direct effort to protect the coal industry. It is also another significant step in dismantling measures aimed at combating global warming, including the rollback of tailpipe emissions standards and the planned withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

The move largely gives states the authority to decide how far to scale back emissions, or not to do it all, and significantly reduces the federal government’s role in setting standards. The Obama plan would have set national emissions limits and required the reconstruction of power grids to move utilities away from coal.

The new regulation, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, immediately drew a flurry of challenges, with attorneys general in California, Oregon, Washington State, Iowa, Colorado and New York saying they intended to sue to block the measure.

At issue is whether the Environmental Protection Agency has authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions and force states to move away from coal, as assumed under Mr. Obama’s rule. Under the Trump administration’s interpretation, the agency only has authority over environmental infractions at individual plants, like chemical spills and improper handling of hazardous materials.

Andrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, argued that the Obama administration had overreached its authority with its rule. That regulation, known as the Clean Power Plan, was suspended by the Supreme Court after challenges from 28 states and hundreds of companies.

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University and a former legal counsel in the Obama administration, said it would be “a blockbuster” if the Trump rule reached the Supreme Court and justices endorsed the administration approach. “It could foreclose a new administration from doing something more ambitious,” she said.

The new rule, which is expected to come into effect within 30 days, assumes that the forces of the market will guide the country to a future of cleaner energy by naturally phasing out coal over time. It imposes only modest requirements on coal plants.

While it instructs states to reduce emissions, the new measure sets no targets. Instead, it lets states decide how much carbon reduction they consider reasonable and suggests ways to improve efficiency at individual power plants.

Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who served in the E.P.A. during both Bush administrations and now represents utility companies as a lawyer for the firm Bracewell, said he thought the current Supreme Court would be skeptical of any presidential effort to regulate carbon emissions under existing law.

“It will establish what the E.P.A. can and can’t do,” Mr. Holmstead said of the new Trump rule. “I think it really will tie the hands of future administrations.”

Environmental groups say the Trump rule will slow the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at a time when scientists warn that countries must rapidly decarbonize to avoid the most severe effects of climate change, including heat waves, extreme storms, droughts and floods.

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Mr. Wheeler has said the Trump administration’s plan is legally sound, will not damage the economy and will still go a long way toward reducing carbon.

He maintained that, when the new measure is fully implemented, it will reduce carbon emissions in the power sector by 34 percent below 2005 levels, roughly equal to the goals of the Clean Power Plan.

Mr. Wheeler also said the rule could lead to new coal plants in the United States. “I don’t know who is going to invest in a new coal fired power plant, but we’re leveling the playing field to allow that investment to occur,” he said.

Mr. Wheeler noted, as he has in the past that, from 2005 to 2017, the United States reduced its energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent. He did not mention that they rose in 2018 and are on track to continue growing this year. Asked about the upward trend of emissions, Mr. Wheeler said he remained confident that the Trump administration was taking the right approach and should not overstep its authority to address climate change.

“We’re on the right side of history,” he said. “Its Congress’ role to draft statutes, not the regulatory agencies.”

ImageAndrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency chief, on Capitol Hill in April.
CreditPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

Industry leaders welcomed the new rule, saying it grants states and utilities the flexibility to reduce emissions in ways best suited to their individual circumstances. Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, said the Trump administration plan would save jobs in coal country.

The Obama plan, he said, prevented the construction of new plants and led to the closing of existing plants. The Trump rule, by contrast, “is going to reduce emissions while not immediately putting an end to our industry,” he said.

Scientific and environmental organizations, though, maintain that the Trump rule could cause emissions to rise compared with what the Clean Power Plan would have done and that the Trump rule would be only slightly better than doing nothing at all.

That’s in large part because of a phenomenon known as the emissions rebound effect. While plants that make efficiency improvements like those suggested under the Trump plan will become slightly cleaner, those improvements will generally allow them to operate longer, too. The overall effect is to increase the amount of emissions generated over the lifetime of a particular plant.

According to a joint study produced last year by Harvard University, Syracuse University and Resources for the Future, a research organization, 18 states and the District of Columbia would see higher greenhouse emissions from the Trump rule. In 19 states, pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would rise.

An early Trump administration analysis of its own plan also found that it would lead to hundreds more premature deaths and hospitalizations because of that increased air pollution.

On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, issued a new analysis that estimated, based on established E.P.A. methods of calculating the harm from pollution and industry trends, that the new plan could lead to as many as 5,200 premature deaths annually by 2030.

“No matter how you slice it, this is a dramatic retrenchment” Ms. Freeman said. “It’s not just that they’re doing very small, modest steps to reduce emissions. It’s that they’re not creating momentum to substitute renewables and substitute natural gas for coal. That’s what the Obama rule was doing, and it had a long-term view to bigger emission cuts over time.”

Mr. Wheeler, though, continued to push back against the perception that the Trump administration was disregarding the threat posed by rising emissions.

“We are addressing climate change,” Mr. Wheeler said. “We have limited authority but we’re doing a lot.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.


An earlier version of this article misquoted a professor of environmental law at Harvard University. The professor, Jody Freeman, called the Trump rule “a dramatic retrenchment,” not a dramatic entrenchment.

Lisa Friedman reports on climate and environmental policy in Washington. A former editor at Climatewire, she has covered nine international climate talks. @LFFriedman

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: E.P.A. Establishes Plan on Climate Friendly to Coal. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



Glee from the opposition:

Goodbye to Obama’s “Clean” Power Plan


The Obama presidency was an era of bureaucratic overreach.

No bureaucratic agency was more arrogant, or heedless of its legal boundaries than EPA.  No Obama regulation would have been more ruinous than the so-called “Clean” Power Plan.  The “CPP” was so egregious that the Supreme Court put it on hold.  Good thing.

This week Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that EPA is scrapping the CPP.This is big.

CFACT has been been exposing and fighting this destructive plan since its inception.

EPA devised its authority for the CPP by converting 80 words in the Clean Air Act into 2,690 pages of regulations and appendices. The unprecedented plan required that utilities return the nation’s overall CO2 emissions almost to 1975 levels, while our population grows by a projected 40 million.

The CPP would have cost a fortune to tax and ratepayers and would have chased still more American manufacturing jobs overseas.

CFACT’s Adam Houser attended the announcement and posted details at“The Affordable Clean Energy rule — ACE — gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide affordable and reliable energy for all Americans…  The contrast between our approach and the Green New Deal, or plans like it, couldn’t be clearer. Rather than Washington telling Americans what type of energy they can use, or how they can travel, or even what they can eat, we are working cooperatively with the states to provide affordable, dependable, and diverse supply of energy that continues to get cleaner and more efficient.”

While the federal government loosens the regulatory screws on our energy economy, state and local governments are moving in the wrong direction.

The New York legislature adopted a whopper.  We posted details at New York State Legislature just passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law. This measure contains new mandates for the state to eliminate net carbon emissions in the next thirty years, by 2050, equal to just 15 percent of the 1990 levels. By 2040, just two decades from now, 100 percent of the state’s electricity generation is supposed to come from “renewable” resources, such solar and wind power.

The new law also authorizes numerous state agencies to issue regulations to achieve greenhouse gas emission limits that govern nearly every aspect of the private economy, including energy, health, housing, transportation, agriculture, economic development, and utilities. And, the new climate law also must be considered when agencies issue any permits, contracts, licenses “and other administrative approvals and decisions.”

Climate change policy now governs everything in the state of New York.

New York had better watch out.  Business owners and the middle class are fleeing states like California that impose unaffordable energy and climate policies.  If New York’s not careful Wall Street and the rest of it producers could very well shrug and bid the Empire State adieu.

In short, this week saw a huge step in the right direction at the federal level and a huge step in the wrong direction in New York.

America needs an affordable, abundant energy future.  When energy costs rise, people and businesses vote with their feet.

Policymakers take notice.

For nature and people too,

Craig Rucker

Source: an e-mail from: Craig Rucker <>

One Response to “Trump’s EPA Signs ‘Deadly’ Clean Power Plan Replacement”

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