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EPA rolls back coal rule despite climate change warnings

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restr...

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 12:25 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 12:25 PM

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 US government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

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.

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"We are rescinding unfair burdens on America's energy providers and leveling the playing field so that new energy technologies can be part of America's future," Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former coal industry lobbyist, said Thursday.

The rule change would lift restrictions on coal emissions that effectively limited the construction of new plants.

Wheeler argued that the Obama administration was requiring power plants to use costly carbon capture and sequestration technology and that by reversing the rule, businesses would have a greater ability to innovate and invest.

"Their determination was disingenuous," Wheeler said. "They knew that the technology was not adequately demonstrated, which is what is required under the law."

Critics assailed the move. "Trump's proposal is an act of flailing, die-hard climate denial," said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who characterized the announcement as "backward-looking posturing."

Climate report

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration released a congressionally mandated Climate Assessment which warned the planet is getting warmer, human activity is contributing to that warming and that it is approaching a point of no return in terms of the damage to the climate.

Asked whether the EPA was ignoring its climate report, Wheeler said: "We're not ignoring the government report. We're still looking at the report itself."

"As far as what the findings were -- a lot of what the media has focused on, as I said last week, is the worst case scenario in the report," he added.

Also Thursday, the administration moved to roll back restrictions on oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of Western land placed under an Obama-era conservation plan to protect the greater sage grouse.

Goes against international efforts

The combined announcements come as the United Nations hosted a crucial meeting on climate change in Poland, where delegates are working to create an operational plan to turn the 2015 Paris Agreement into workable reality. The US decisions serve as another reminder of the Trump administration's determination to buck global consensus about climate change and the need to act on it.

Just a week ago, the US drew a red line under its determination to oppose international consensus. At the G20 in Argentina, the delegation insisted on adding a graph to the final communique that said the US "reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment."

The Obama administration rule required new coal plants to be equipped with technology that could capture and store carbon, creating a tight limit on emissions that made building new coal plants uneconomical. The Trump administration changes will allow the construction of new coal plants that use newer and more efficient boilers and related technology.

It's not likely that new coal plants will sprout up across the country in the wake of the change as demand for coal drops in the face of cheaper natural gas and sources of renewable energy.

US coal consumption in 2018 is expected to be the lowest since 1979 and fall further still in 2019, as a near-record number of coal plants closed this year, according to an Energy Information Administration report Tuesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 37542

Reported Deaths: 1272
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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