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: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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