Trump EPA To Scale Back Climate Rule To Pave Way for More Coal Plants
Latest Bailout Effort Comes as Coal Consumption Drops to Lowest Levels in 40 years
Updated on 12/6/18
WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency will repeal an Obama-era climate change regulation requiring coal-fired power plants to install technology that captures carbon dioxide emissions.
The move, announced today by EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, is the latest in a long list of policy initiatives by the Trump administration meant to prop up the failing coal industry. The industry has seen its grip on the utility sector shrink dramatically as significantly cheaper natural gas and the exploding renewable industry fueled by wind and solar is becoming a much more economically viable and sustainable option.
“Many utilities continue to drag their feet with respect to renewables, preferring to gravitate first to natural gas. But investor pressure about climate and financial risk, growing public support for renewables, and the continued declining costs of wind and solar are big reasons why coal is being pushed out of the market,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “And no number of regulatory rollbacks or empty campaign promises to coal miners is going to change the move toward clean energy. The only variable now is how quickly the transition to an electric system dominated by renewables will occur.”
Under the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the Obama climate rule, new coal plants would not be required to use the carbon capture technology, increasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions plants would be allowed to release into the atmosphere.
As Lisa Friedman of The New York Times reported, “carbon dioxide emissions from new coal plants would not be allowed to exceed 1,900 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity, according to two people knowledgeable about the proposal. That’s compared to the Obama rule, which limited emissions to 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.”
A coal industry analyst for S&P Global Platts told The Times that this latest effort by President Trump would not change the economic outlook for coal, which has worsened under his administration, even though both during the 2016 campaign and as president, Trump repeatedly promised to save coal jobs.
During one campaign rally in May 2016, Trump told a group of West Virginia miners: “Get ready because you’re going to be working your asses off.”
Last week, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that coal plant closings doubled during President Trump’s second year in office, despite his repeated pledge to “end the war on coal.” And the federal Energy Information Administration is projecting that in 2018, U.S. coal consumption has dropped to the lowest levels in 40 years.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.