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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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The relative lack of humidity has been a welcome change from the summertime stuffiness we’ve had lately. That lack of humidity will once again ensure that temperatures get down into the mid 60s for early morning Thursday. While Friday morning will remain comfortable as well, rain chances ratchet up as a tropical system approaches this weekend.
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